Published: Monday October 7, 2013 MYT 6:00:00 AM
Updated: Thursday August 1, 2013 MYT 5:08:14 PM

Parenting with shortcuts and less effort

Sh*tty Mum

Sh*tty Mum
The Parenting Guide For The Rest Of Us
By Mary Ann Zoellner, Alicia Ybarbo, Karen Moline and Laurie Kilmartin
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

If you’re a Type-A parent obsessed with being the perfect parent, getting things perfectly right with your child, the child’s favourite teddy bear, his playdate, the “other mum”, the milk warmer and everything else about parenting – then this book is not for you.

Or perhaps it is.

Sh*tty Mum throws in a good measure of common sense with wit at a time when parenting books packed with “you-ought-to's” have seized the shelves. The bestsellers that promise you hours of blissful sleep or a perfectly well-mannered two-year-old often neglect to tell you that the training itself can be a case of long suffering with no guaranteed results.

But here, the four co-authors put it clearly upfront, “the book is about shortcuts and parenting with 40% effort.”

Why put up with a bawling toddler when Angry Birds is here to rescue? Do you really need to wipe your child’s snot using a tissue when her dress sleeve will do? So what if your boy prefers dolls – it is possible that he will style your hair forever … for free. Plus, you did have dagger thoughts about the other kid’s mum who’s flaunting her “barely two months after delivery” killer abs.

Written by, amongst others, two Emmy-award winning producers, this “off-centre” parenting book is for the mum who scrutinises others, and comes under the scrutiny of others. And because none of us would ever readily admit we’re a “sh*tty mum”, the book starts out with a pop quiz to test if you “qualify”.

In a 12-part book with chapters of no more than six pages each, the authors offer “… tips to help you through days when there (isn't) enough sh*tty advice in the world.”

From how not to hear your baby in the middle of the night (gasp! sacrilege!) and how to drop your sick kid at school or daycare before the teachers find out (go ahead, admit you like this one!), to should you stop texting if another mum yells at your kid, the book brings to light some of the fleeting thoughts exhausted parents have.

While all the advice may not help you get past the “parent police”, it will give you the assurance that it is very okay to slip up once in a while. We’re only human with innate selfish desires. As are the “children who ‘want everything and want it now. They don’t care about killing your sex life, or the way they add six inches to the length of your breasts.”

Dealing with honest thoughts and emotions in a sort of reverse psychology sort of way, Sh*tty Mum offers its readers a sense of respite on a wide range of topics – from sex to ex, nums (non-Mums) to naming your child. Taking a side view at the mundane duties of nappy changes, the lack of sleep, playdates, and spouses who cheat, the book has whacky lists and is packed with unconventional tips.

Take for example, the issue of spanking – most books give a list of reasons how it will damage your child’s emotion and tarnish his self-esteem. Here, it gets put across this way: “while cathartic, (it) merely increases the noise and you can’t beat your kids for being tired or hungry. Save the physical abuse for something special, like when they crash your car or get into your liquor.”

Be warned. In living up to its title, the book is riddled with four-lettered words. Some were unnecessary, serving only to dramatise the issue. However, the adjectives were probably added to break stereotype thinking about parenting.

The book is probably a little hard for most regular Asian parents to swallow. Still, there are nuggets of wisdom to glean, if you look past some of the obtuse language to loosen up about parenting.

While the days of playing Barbie with your girl may make you feel like you want to stick your head in the oven, it’s not going to last forever. They’ll outgrow their dolls, balls and tricycles in a blink.

And, they’ll always love you – sh*tty mum, or not. Bless.

Available at Books Kinokuniya Malaysia. For further enquiries, call +603-21648133, email or visit BookWeb Malaysia.

Tags / Keywords: Shitty Mum, Sh tty Mum, Mary Ann Zoellner, Alicia Ybarbo, Karen Moline, Laurie Kilmartin, parenting, family, book review


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