What I’m Reading
I was hooked. I bought the book; I just couldn’t help myself.
In PARENTSPEAK, Lehr examines typical phrases we’ve likely all heard on the playground or in the checkout line at the grocery store. Chapters include, “Who’s My Big Boy?,” "Give Grandma a Kiss,” and “Do You Want a Time-Out?”
The chapter I found the most fascinating was, “Do You Want a Spanking?” In it Lehr makes a moving and well-supported case for abolishing corporal punishment. She shares some shocking facts, such as the U.S.’s continued support of hitting children as an acceptable form of punishment while many countries chose to outlaw spanking decades ago. She also shrewdly points out that spanking children is a leftover from a time in our history when children were treated as property rather than the sentient human beings we know them to be.
Lehr's writing is personable, funny, and engaging. She speaks from personal experience and is self-deprecating. Her points are thoughtful and perpetually in the pursuit of respect for all children.
“So often we devalue engagement of any kind when children are involved. Their drawings are cute. Their performances are cute. Their stories are cute. Their fights are cute. Their thoughts are cute. Cute. Cute. Cute. The thing is, they don’t feel cute when they are drawing or telling a story or fighting or thinking. So, when we call it cute, we essentially erase their whole experience. It’s demeaning...Why is it so hard for us to take young children seriously” (Pages 78-79)?
“...I want the kids to grow up knowing and understanding that ‘No means no,’ and I believe the best way to teach that is to respect their ‘no’ when it comes to their bodies from an early age. If a child is taught as a toddler that ‘no’ or ‘stop’ just means someone will force you into their arms or keep tickling you or kiss you anyway, what do we expect from them as teens and adults” (Page 99)?
“Our culture’s knee-jerk impulse to apologize for being ‘too emotional’ is backward. We have so much shame around expressions of emotion, as if they are a sign of weakness instead of a sign of our humanity” (Pages 180-181).
“Because we expect children to be deferential to adults, they become easy scapegoats. We get to blame them for ‘making us’ yell, as if they not only deserved it but we literally had no other choice. Without realizing it, we take advantage of their vulnerabilities - the fact that their cognition isn’t yet fully developed and that they depend on us to survive”(Pages 214-215).