Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Good Kids Bad Habits

I read in a book that our children will be the first generation to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents.

I ran to The Partner in alarm. I squeaked out the news and asked him what he thought.

He looked at me funny. “I think it means The Boss won’t live as many years as we do.”

I tried to collect myself amidst a series of eye twitches. “I am not asking you to explain the concept to me. I get that. I want to know what we’re going to do about it.”

“You’re the one reading the book.”

Yes, I’m the one reading the book. In this house, I’m always the one reading the book. I’ve loved words on paper since the day I deciphered my first children’s story. But I’ve never been particularly interested in non-fiction and am even less inclined to accept someone else’s idea of self-help. When I signed on to review Good Kids Bad Habits, by Jennifer Tractenberg, for the Parent Blogger’s Network, I hadn’t tried to read a parenting book in its entirety since I threw down What To Expect When You’re Expecting in disgust.

I have, however, cracked the binding on some cookbooks and nutritional guides (à la The Healthiest Kid in the Neighborhood by Dr. Sears) and I hoped to find similarly useful information, charts and lists when I started in on Good Kids Bad Habits. The back of the book promised “insightful tips, preventative steps, and kids smarts” to help us parents teach our children to be the “healthiest adults they can be—while still allowing them to be kids.”

Though the book covers everything from nutrition, to exercise, to safety, it is the former category from which I extracted most of the usable information. As the mother of a 19-month old girl, my biggest concerns revolve around finding the best foods to feed her rapidly growing body and mind. I particularly liked the “Keep Your Family’s Diet Colorful” chart, which lists a variety of foods according to color and suggests that you buy at least two items from each color category on every shopping trip.

The rest of the book did not hold my attention, as its focus on the wide-ranging toddler-to-teen demographic lost me when it skewed toward the older part of that spectrum with discussions on things like homework, video game playing, and the kind of outside activities for which my topsy-turvy toddler is not ready. More forward- and big-picture-thinking parents could no doubt learn a lot by reading up on the inevitable challenges of the years ahead, but I ended up bored by subject matter to which I couldn’t relate.

For those who aren’t as literally, spirtually and emotionally procrastinatory as I am, Good Kids Bad Habits is a much more valuable read. However, I do have enough foresight to put it on my book shelf, befitting its status as a reference book that I will most likely go back to as my daughter’s life renders new chapters more and more relevant.


Kate said...

I love you. Just thought you should know that. WTEWYE got thrown down in disgust at my house too. I haven't finished a parenting book cover to cover yet... and while I work hard to keep the diet healthy (with a few yummies here and there) I don't see what is so hard about "lots of fruits and veggies, whole grains and lean protein." I don't think you can parent from a book. It's all about flying by the seat of your pants. I don't think a book can teach you how to do that. I frequently tell Maya she's my trial child. If she turns out ok, we'll think about another one ;)

PeppermintDani said...


First off, thank you for taking time to write your thoughts on Good Kids, Bad Habits. We really appreciate you sharing your feedback!

Secondly, your readers can check out a 'Preview' of "Good Kids, Bad Habits" which includes the Table of Contents and Chapter Two (with Nutrition Charts) by
Clicking Here (pdf) or sending me an email at dbaldwin at realageinc dot com.

Thanks again!
Real Age Parenting Center