Kiss Me!

7

25 September 2012 by thaliakr

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I first encountered Carlos Gonzalez in this Guardian interview, and thought, what a lovely man! I bought his second book, Kiss Me!: How to Raise Your Children With Love, and gobbled it in a couple of days. He had me at ‘hello’ with this on the second page:

The stance of a book or of an expert is rarely explicit. On the back of every book it should state clearly: “This books assumes that children need our attention” or “This book assumes that, given the slightest chance, all children will try it on.” Paediatricians and child psychologists ought to provide similar explanations during the first appointment. … Seeking the advice of a paediatrician without knowing whether he or she is an advocate of affection or discipline is as absurd as seeking the advice of a priest without knowing whether he is a Catholic or a Buddhist, or reading a book on economics without knowing whether the author is a Communist or a Capitalist.

Because, in the end, this is a matter of personal opinion, not of science. Although throughout this book I will try to provide arguments in order to back up my point of view, it must be said that, in the end, ideas on parenting, like political or religious ideas, are more about personal beliefs than rational arguments.

Yes! Yes. One of my chief frustrations through pregnancy, as we tried to decide what kind of parents we would be, in a bit more detail than before, was this.

Not only does pretty much everyone have strong opinions about parenting, but most people’s opinions are based on anecdote, personal experience or ideology. Which is fine for justifying what works for you, but not so good for telling other people about the Right Way To Raise Children.

There’s hardly any good research on which to base parenting philosophy, certainly once you go beyond the general advice to love your kids and do your best for them. So I feel much more inclined to listen to someone like Gonzalez, who acknowledges that and then tells you what he thinks and why, based on a career in the field and his own parenting, than anyone who professes to know the only right way to do it.

I read this before we sort of morphed into kind of attachment parents, and Gonzalez’ charming attitude and permission-giving air helped me feel ok about where we were heading.

I particularly loved the chapters – both title and content – ‘Your child is a good person’ and ‘Theories I do not share.’ (Heavens, I could write a Proust-length collection with that title.) Check out more by looking inside the book on Amazon.

Kiss Me! is one of the few parenting books I’ve enjoyed and found useful (though there’s a lot more parenting to go!). I probably would have hated it if he hadn’t begun with the words above. The other books I’ll no doubt rave about soon.

What about you?  What books or other stuff have you found helpful?

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7 thoughts on “Kiss Me!

  1. Caroline says:

    Sounds like an interesting book, but I try REALLY hard not to read parenting manuals. I suspect I would get obsessed with reading them & then feel guilty when I failed to implement them perfectly. Also, parenting is such a personal thing & seems to raise strong emotions – I get too wound up by things in the books that I don’t agree with. Although, I suspect there’s lots of interesting ideas I miss out on too by not reading them.

    • Oh, that’s really interesting. I really relate to your reactions, but for me they’re reactions to other parents rather than books.

      I can feel really pulled around by observing other people’s parenting (even if they’re being very permission-giving/not giving advice etc).

      But books I find handy and helpful and I guess I don’t take them personally because I know the authors aren’t talking about ME :)

      • Caroline says:

        That’s really interesting as (obviously) most people are not parenting to criticise your parenting – just doing the best they can in whatever situation they’re in.

        [I’m now hoping I haven’t done any critical parenting…]

        • Of course you haven’t :)

          And i don’t mean that anyone’s trying to send a message, just that I’m hyperaware of the differences between my parenting (subset of me, generally, probably) and other people’s and am more likely to be a bit irrational/defensive/worried in my reactions.

          The travel has helped with that, actually, and I’m trying to think why. Perhaps we have had so many different parent-friends around that my brain has realised it’s silly to use whoever’s nearest as the yardstick?

  2. I think you would like the author Deborah Jackson. She wrote a fab book called Do Not Disturb: The Benefits of Relaxed Parenting that really rocked my world, as all of her books have. I’m going to order a copy of Kiss Me.
    We sleep on a big mattress on the floor, too…I didn’t realise that was Montessori!

    • Thanks for the recommendation, Transatlanticbelle!

      The Montessori idea is for toddlers to have beds on the floor (in their own rooms, or wherever) so they can choose to be in them or not depending on whether they’re tired or not. For the few months that we had floor-level beds, it was great. We now have a big bed on legs, and he can get off but not on, so I think we’ll get a step for him :)

  3. […] Kiss Me, Carlos Gonzalez Just love your kids. (Key influence in how I parent, giving permission to connect affectionately with your children and treat them as real people.) […]

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