My first book, Sandcastles: Tools for Letting Go of Addiction and the
Pain of the Past by Janet Stegman, that’s me, focuses on healing addiction, depression, and any other pain left over from a person’s past. My second book, How to Raise a Healthy, Happy Child, will be out in a month and a half. This book is a parenting guide that teaches parents what to do and what not to do in order to ensure that their child grows up health, happy, and fully functional. It details the mistakes parents of the past, whose parenting skills (or lack thereof) I heard about in living color detail from my clients for 15 years, made that caused my clients to turn to addiction or other mental or emotional disorders in order to cope with life. Kids, as I affectionately call it, is chock full of tools, suggestions, and ideas on how to raise a child in a fun, loving, and positive environment that is enriching and enjoyable for both parent and child.
I love my chapter titled, “A Gingerbread House”. It likens a child to a gingerbread house, and each time you criticize the child, put him down, or make fun of him, you rip a piece of the gingerbread house off, until the child is unrecognizable as a human being and instead becomes a dysfunctional, dilapidated fixer-upper that you will have nothing but problems with. But if you are constantly building your child up and instilling self-confidence and self-esteem in them, they will thoroughly enjoy their childhood and raise up into a healthy, happy, fully-functional teenager and adult.
I have a chapter entitled “Spare the Rod, Spare the Addiction,” which advocates for using childrearing techniques that do not include hitting, because, well, a battery is a battery no matter the age of a person. Why is it that at 17 years and 364 days, hitting a child is considered “discipline”, but at 17 years and 365 days, hitting a child is both a crime and a tort, and you could go to jail for it? It makes no sense. A battery is a battery, no matter what age a person is. Our world has given parents bad advice with “Spare the rod, spoil the child,” as violence upon a child starts them down a road no one wants them to go. There are other, more effective, ways of teaching a child to be safe and do the right thing – ways that leave the child proud of themselves and in love with life.
I discuss how music, dancing, humor, hugs, laughter, quality time together, heart-to-heart talks, and respecting your child’s feelings makes for a successful parenting experience. One that parents will cherish forever.
After spending fifteen years counseling people with addiction, depression, and the pain from their past that still haunts them, I have learned first hand what parents do and omit to do that cause their children to suffer from agonizing mental, emotional, and even physical afflictions. I also have learned what parents do and don’t do that enable their children to grow up into happy, joyful, fulfilled adults. Having acquired this knowledge and the tools I use to help people heal and move on with their lives, I was able to put onto the printed page a book for parents in order that they may circumvent the craziness and misery that can accompany childrearing and know right from the start what mind-sets and methods will allow them to raise a fully-functional, healthy, happy, child.
In addition to working extensively with clients on a wide spectrum of disorders, clients with vivid, detailed childhood memories of the parenting methods and treatment that wounded them so badly, and helping them let go of those disorders, I spent many years working with children, first as a camp counselor at a YMCA summer camp, and later as a teacher, director, and producer of musical theatre with children. Those experiences enabled me to pinpoint the precise attitudes and actions and that instantly turn children from feeling frustrated and acting out to feeling content and engaging in constructive behaviors leading them to live their best life.
As you begin to read Kids, you will notice that I don’t dwell on the negative. I don’t advise about “discipline” or, God forbid, “punishment”. That is because I firmly believe those parenting modalities masquerade as parenting tools but are really destructive to a child’s happiness and end up destroying their sense of self, free spirit, and enjoyment of life. I have learned that discipline and punishment only serve to make a person live with the sense of feeling controlled, punished, and wrong, which is not a good place for anyone to lead from, ever in their life.
I advocate for and focus on parenting skills that embody love, compassion, fun, affection, and interest in and caring about the child’s feelings. I have found that this positive approach raises a well-adjusted person that doesn’t need discipline or punishment; heartfelt conversations suffice. When your child is on your side and organically wants to participate in their own upbringing, they don’t feel the need to rebel; they simply are focused on doing what they love to do, developing themselves into the kind of person they want to be, and finding the things in life that tickle them and make them feel alive.
I firmly believe that if you implement the parenting methods described in this book, you can avoid the unpleasant and difficult dramas parents often encounter, and your child will not have the need to seek therapy or recovery later in life. Besides, I need a vacation. Seriously though, it is true what they say: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” If you embrace the practices set forth in Kids, you won’t have to worry about fixing your child later.
As you work to make the suggestions in this book your own – learn them know them, and live them – it will not be an adversarial 18 years; rather, it will be a joyous adventure, full of wonder, amazement, laughter, and fun. You will wish it would never end. And you will see your child raise up into their best self: a fully-functional, healthy, happy, treasure.
Look for How to Raise a Healthy, Happy Child by Janet Stegman on this very website, booksbyjanetstegman.com, in a month and a half. Now I have to get to work to finish up my manuscript so I can get it to my amazing publisher, YOUR ONLINE PUBLICIST!