When it comes to raising children, it really does "take a village," as that clichéd trope suggests. But who specifically is in that village? Your mum, that's who. Along with her sister, her mother, and her mother. Conveniently, there are now parenting books to advise you on your villager role in the child-rearing scheme, based on where you stand in the matriarchy.
Three recently published titles support that mama-filled village idea—that child caregiving can extend beyond the parents. Now aunties and grandmothers want a piece of the action! Turns out that ovulatory sensation can kick in even when the kid isn't yours, as you'll see below.
Let's start with Mom
What Great Parents Do: 75 Simple Strategies for Raising Fantastic Kids (2016, Penguin), by psychologist and parent educator Erica Reischer, touts itself as "the everything-you-need-to-know road map for parenting that you will consult again and again." That's a grand statement, but I agree with her. And the book isn't just for parents. (Okay, I admit this book isn't about mothering specifically, but about parenting.) Reischer also notes that it's for "grandparents, teachers, and caregivers." There you go: the village!
Reischer is specific about each of the 75 strategies, and her philosophy follows the Authoritative Parenting model—or what she coins her own "ABCs of parenting: Acceptance, Boundaries, and Consistency." Examples such as "Great parents notice what they say and how they say it," or "Great parents practice emotion coaching," demonstrate the parent's role in modeling for their kid. And the chapters are actionable: Each one includes relatable situations and dialogue for practicing with your kid, whether you're his mother or grandmother.
Aunties have a say too
Delia Ephron and Edward Koren's recently re-released classic, Do I Have to Say Hello? Aunt Delia's Manners Quiz (reprint 2015, Penguin) is a humorously disguised guide for the parent and child from the perspective of a loving auntie who values good manners. I had one of those aunties myself, although her approach to instruction was to "tut, tut" me rather than model her expectations. Shame doesn't work well on kids, and it didn't work on me. (Proof? My manners are terrible to this day!)
However, Ephron wins kids over by presenting outrageous multiple choice answers for situational etiquette questions, ranging from birthday party to beach to visiting friends and family. Koren's illustrations give the appearance of a picture book, and read aloud, the interactive Q & A cleverly challenges kids to be the most solicitous version of themselves in order to get the answer right. And the process teaches them manners. Thanks, Auntie!
Finally, there's Grannie
Some grannies cannot wait to get their hands on new grandbabies, as was the case for journalist Lesley Stahl. In her memoir Becoming Grandma: The Joys and Science of the New Grandparenting (2016, Blue Rider Press), she weaves her personal experience as a doting grandparent with the wider cultural impact that grandparents have on families and society.
Sometimes it's hot: There's the ardor she feels for her first grand-child, a feeling backed by science. "When I looked at [my granddaughter]," she writes, "I felt I was floating, that I was on a high. I feel like a lover. I keep wanting to burst into song!" Turns out holding a baby floods a grandmother's system with oxytocin the same way as a mother.
And sometimes it's not so hot: like when one is referred to as a MIL (mother-in-law). I like that Stahl gently disavows the myth of theAmeddlesome mother-in-law, because now, more than ever, that extra hand is needed with the rise of moms in the workforce. And grandfathers can pitch in, too. Stahl devotes much of her book to observing her husband's care for their grandkids.
Stahl covers a lot of territory in her cheerfully written book, but because she's a professional observer, her account sometimes includes lengthy backstory to get to a point. Thankfully, the attention she gives to her topic promises both instruction to readers and some very lucky little granddaughters for Stahl.