Growing up, my mom didn't have a lot of time for me. She worked long hours and often left me alone at night. But while I was given a lot of freedom, I also knew what her expectations were and kept to her rules. I respected her and in return I was given more leeway. Many of my friends thought that I had it easy, and that my mom was more of a friend than a mom. But while she was someone I could always talk to about anything, she was still my mom first.
After reading Mama Rock's Rules, I think my mom and Rose Rock would get along well. Parent Bloggers offered me the chance to read this book, and I thought, "The mom of Chris Rock wants to tell me how to parent? This should be good."
But having read it, I have to say that this woman may be one of the best parenting experts out there today. After raising ten children of her own, along with 17 foster children and working in preschool and special ed, Mama Rock has some well-tested theories of parenting that are simple to follow and practical.
She jumps into the most important aspect of parenting in the first chapter: you are your child's parent, not their friend, and you must set boundaries. This seems to fly in the face of the new parenting guidelines that ask us to be kinder, gentler parents. In Rose Rock's house, the kids knew that she was the boss, and their job was to follow her rules. Establishing these boundaries early on isn't some attempt at forcing your children into submissiveness, but instead setting them up to understand that the world is full of rules you must follow, and learning to be a respectful human being early on will help you cope with the world around you.
I was really impressed with her advice. One tip was to have a family dinner time free of distractions. This is something we don't have, and I can see how a dinner ritual, free of outside distractions, could help a family connect each day. We're often eating at different times, and TV is always a distraction. It's something that I want to start in our home.
She also discusses the need to establish respect, often beginning with eliminating swearing and negative talking from the house. (Yes, parents, this means you, too. Where do you think your little one learned those words?) But not only do your kids need to respect you, they need to respect themselves, too. Her ideas for teaching self-respect were inspiring and reminded me that I must always choose my words carefully around my daughters.
This isn't just a book about being tough with your kids, though. There is a lot of talk about love, too. She stresses that your kids should respect you, but not fear you. Mama Rock explains that kids want to belong, and they want positive attention from their parents. Rewarding kids for good behavior with hugs and kisses is always a good idea.
For me, the greatest lesson I took away from this book is that while your children may not always like you, they will someday appreciate and understand the rules you set for them. Looking at my own life, I remember many times when I did not like my mom at all. But as an adult, I can examine those situations and see that she really did have my best interests in mind, and most likely saved me from some very bad decisions.
This book is an easy read, with a casual tone and a lot of humor and anecdotes. She even throws in a few of her best recipes, in case you can't think of any food to make for a family dinner. Mama Rock's Rules is the most down-to-earth and honest parenting guide I've ever read, and I recommend it for new parents as well as veterans who feel they need to find some support or a new direction to go in. Mama Rock will set you straight on how to be an effective parent.