Idea/Concept: With Parenting at Your Best, Roni Wing Lambrecht digs deep into her own life and experiences raising a family to share personal, hard-won advice about parenting. Tragically, the author and her husband lost their son Dalton in an accident when he was 15; Lambrecht's love for Dalton is the book's heartbeat, as she draws often on her memories of him and even her regrets. Far from the standard-issue guidebook its title suggests and that readers might expect, Parenting at Your Best is an act of love, healing, and memorialization.
Prose: Lambrecht's prose is savvy and casual, unfussy as can be, loose and conversational but always clear. In this book (and two others she has published) Lambrecht champions the practice of writing frequent notes to family to be read by them now -- and also of journaling about memories and milestones to be shared in later years. There's no doubt, reading the personal stories and clear-eyed advice in Parenting at Your Best, that she has poured herself into her book just as she would into her missives to family.
Originality: Lambrecht distinguishes Parenting at Your Best from the self-help pack by focusing on her own unique, self-generated parenting advice, always illustrated with compelling, often affecting examples from her own family. Even somewhat familiar relationship advice -- lead by example; establish expectations in a family; establish and respect traditions; learn to ask “Are they asking me a question, or are they just asking to be heard?” -- here is freshened up by Lambrecht's thoughtful, heartfelt, personal approach. Besides that warmth and practicality, the book is set apart by its frank, moving handling of grief and loss, as Lambrecht shares family photos and memories and even describes how her journal about Dalton might have saved her marriage after her son's death.
Execution: While Lambrecht's writing is inviting and touching, some chapters face a rawness of grief that can be surprising. Some readers might not be eager for a reckoning with loss and grief in a book about raising their own children. Parenting at Your Best could signal more strongly on its cover and in its title that death is one of its throughlines. That said, passages about topics like establishing nightly "cuddle time" or sharing a family business plan boast rare feeling and urgency, as it's impossible to forget that our time with our loved ones is always limited -- and we never know when it might end. A couple of chapters (on hugging, dancing, and family game nights) are too short to offer much insight or inspiration.
Date Submitted: November 01, 2019
Reviewed by Mamta Madhavan for Readers' Favorite
Parenting At Your Best: Powerful Reflections and Straightforward Tips for Becoming a Mindful Parent by Roni Wing Lambrecht is a useful guide to all those parents who are struggling to have a loving and positive relationship with their children. Parenting will always throw unexpected curve balls and the book prepares parents to enter the world of parenting. The book helps all parents to breathe, be present, and enjoy their moments of parenting. The advice and suggestions are helpful in maintaining a good relationship with their children and the author’s personal experiences and stories help readers connect well with the book.
The author handles a relevant topic with mindfulness and simplicity, making it easy for readers to incorporate her suggestions and tips into their lives while handling their children. The stories, footnotes, and journals make the book unique, original, and different from the usual parenting books that one reads. The photographs shared in the book make it personal and help readers feel and understand the author’s words - the loss of her son, Dalton, is palpable throughout the book. There is a thread of melancholy that runs through the book because of the references to their son, Dalton, and his loss. The questions at the end are helpful in understanding the roles of children in our lives and also help to assist parents in becoming more successful in their roles. The book is a must-read for all parents as the suggestions and advice help them in becoming better at parenting.