Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Reading Parent

As many of you know, I've been on a reading binge. Recently, at an online community where I belong we were asked about how reading has affected our parenting. Below is my response. I've had a very difficult time writing lately so when my response came easily to me, I felt so good I wanted to share it with you.

Have the books you read shaped the way you parent in any way? What is something you do as a parent that you have taken from books? Is there a book that changed the way you see your role?

Reading about the relationships between mothers and daughters has affected the way I parent. I am more conscious of my relationships with my girls in part because of reading. Maybe this isn't something to admit, but for me it is true. And there are interactions and responses in these relationships that I find myself emulating or asking if I do some of the things I find objectionable.

I have always read to learn first. I've mentioned here before that whenever we list why we read I never list escape or entertainment high on my list. In fact I never list escape and if I remember, entertainment falls low on the list.

I am always reading to learn and grow so when you ask if reading has affected my parenting, the natural answer is yes for me. Not only do I read fiction and pay close attention to these relationships that matter most to me, I read non-fiction like self-help or parenting books.

I can't name one book. What I have taken from books is to listen more to my daughters. I was not raised listening regularly and casually talking with my parents. Reading reminds me to sit with my girls and simply listen. This is a learned skill that is reinforced from reading. I've taken the ideas of getting my girls to journal and write stories from books. The absent, overworked, distracted parent in books reminds me to be present.

I love my children. Left to my own devices however, I am more likely to raise them the way I was raised because that is what I know. What I have learned in part from reading is that there are other parenting styles. Characters help me to see what I want or don't want in my relationship with my children.

My girls are not big readers, but they are curious, resilient, independent and learners. They do emulate me in many ways, and I am happy to say that when they are particularly interested, they will ask me about a book. They assume their mother knows a book or how to find a book on a subject they want to know about.


Anonymous said...

i love your response to the question. no matter what we read or why we read, i think it opens us up and engages us on a level of questioning or understanding we may never have realized without A Good Book.

...deb said...

Good to read you...and I enjoyed the response very much, even though I am not a parent!

wisteria said...

I really enjoyed your essay response. It was so honest and heartfelt. You really have put a lot of thought into your personal reading and what is best for your kids. Bravo.

Anonymous said...

What a lovely, insightful comment. I too read to enrich my life and to learn more about the world...I can only hope that I'll take these lessons when I'm a parent someday. Thanks for the inspiration.

Anonymous said...

missing you!

susan said...

I've been away too long. I apologize for a being a lousy friend. Our connection is through this world of the web and the written world and I've been away trying to pull myself together.

I have been doing lots of reading. I'm pretty sure, I have plenty to draw from for some writing of my own.

Thanks for your kind words.

Anonymous said...

no need to apologize. :) good to hear your voice.

email me any time!!