MotherTalk Blog Book Tour — Momfidence!

Fri, October 27, 2006


After a meeting of kindergarten parents last year, I came away suspecting that at least a few of the moms and dads had pegged me as the “bad mother” in the crowd.

That evening’s conversation ranged, as it often does when a group of parents with six-year-olds gather together, about how to set rules on:

1. getting our kids to eat more fruits and veggies,
2. TV limits, and, 3. bedtime.

I’ve pretty much given up on broccoli, I let Rachel watch TV before bedtime because it actually helps calm her down at the end of the day, and I think parents shouldn’t set bedtimes by committee.

I came away from that gathering wondering if I was a parenting dinosaur and needed to implement more parenting rules. Maybe I should be stricter about how much TV she watches (sometimes we do watch SpongeBob or Kim Possible)? Should I be force-feeding the carrots and spinach? Should she be signed up for more “enrichment” classes?

My thoughts quickly changed when, one night long after that, Rachel looked up at me from her dinner plate (sans green accompaniment) with her yummy chocolate brown eyes and said, “Mommy, why don’t you smile so much?”

Message received loud and clear – MORE. FUN. NEEDED. NOW!!

After reading hew new book, I believe author Paula Spencer would approve with my new mothering mantra.

Momfidence! An Oreo Never Killed Anybody and Other Secrets of Happier Parenting, is a much needed life raft in the current sea of books about mommy competition and planning children’s paths to Harvard while still in utero. Her message in a nutshell — lighten up, have more fun, and don’t sweat so many of the little decisions you won’t remember a year from now, let alone when your kids are adults.

Momfidence! resonated with me because Spencer has been able to put some much-needed humor back into our mothering experiences and remind us all that we need to find more enjoyment in our mothering experience. Spencer has found her celebratory way through motherhood, sharing that with her readers through hilarious anecdotes, and by admitting and embracing the aspects of parenthood that many of us are afraid to for fear of being judged by the parenting police.

Sure there’s a place for rules and codes of conduct, but Spencer’s radical theory is that maybe we would have happier families and happier children if we just let our kids have that cookie, play outside ‘til dark, skip the violin lesson and hang out with mom and dad while eating a bowl of French Silk Ice Cream. If it feels like the right thing to do, maybe it is, even if the parenting “experts” would disagree.

To that end, Spencer provides a recipe of five ingredients she believes are essential to, but sometimes missing from, mothering today:

1. Instinct – use it.
2. Reality – question whether others really know more than we do about parenting.
3. Common Sense – use it.
4. Fun – have it.
5. Parents – don’t always put the kids first. Parents are people too!

Spencer is a go with your gut, not your guilt kind of gal, and I can really appreciate that sensibility. If we have learned as adults to trust our gut instincts, common sense and life experiences in so many other aspects of our lives – choosing a job, selecting a mate, finding a lifestyle that suits us — why not try it with child-rearing?

Early in her book, Spencer remarks, “Raising kids has become such a dreary business. … Ever notice how the good-mothering messages always focus on the dark side [of parenting]?” That’s a pretty sad, but true, statement these days and I want to change with Rachel before it’s too late.

After I finished reading Momfidence!, I must admit that I felt smugly superior that there have been a few times recently when I have inadvertently been at the cutting edge of this new parenting trend for harried moms – embracing the winging-it aspect of mothering, taking mommy “time-outs,” and celebrating more low-key time with Rachel.

We, as mothers, know our kids better than anyone else … T. Berry B. and Dr. Spock can only help us out so much. In the end, Spencer believes that confidence, er, I mean, Momfidence!, in our innate abilities to mother should prevail.

This is a book that all moms should read, if for no other reason, than to know that at least one other mom has scoffed at today’s mothering “rules” and seems to be raising a pretty happy and well-balanced brood.

Thanks to Miriam, Andi & Stacey over at MotherTalk for asking me to participate as a first-timer in their blog book tour series!

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15 Responses to “MotherTalk Blog Book Tour — Momfidence!”

  1. CrankMama Says:


    Let’s hear it for more laid back parenting, with fun, and instinct and less “enrichment”!!

    I’m going to order this book now!

    A nice response to the issues raised in “Perfect Madness” — don’t you think?

  2. Paige Says:

    Some of my happiest moments are curled up in bed with Avery at the end of the day, watching “Arthur” on PBS. Yes, I know a half-hour of television a day is far more than the “experts” recommend for an 18-month-old, but I guess I’m just setting her up for a life of autism and lower-tier educational experiences because I’m an awful person who isn’t fit to parent a parakeet.

    About time someone wrote a book like this. I’m gonna go find it…

  3. jen Says:

    I LOVE IT. YES….it’s so easy to get so uptight, and in the end, i can’t imagine that is what we want our kids to remember. truly…we all might do it a bit differently, but since it’s our daily lives, we should try and make it as light as possible. for us, too.

  4. Kelley Says:

    That book sounds like a refreshing change from all of the stuff about parenting that I see in the media. People seem to think that there is some kind of magical formula for raising the “perfect” child, and that leads to the assumption that – if your child isn’t perfect – someone must be to blame (usually the mother). It’s just so ridiculous! I can’t even imagine the pressure of being a parent today, with the whole “mommy wars” thing, and all the books and studies and assessments…so intimidating.

  5. Heather Says:

    I HAVE to have this book! I am a teacher, and I am a FIRM believer in just letting kids be kids. There will never be a time in their lives where they are able to live with such little responsibility. Why not let them enjoy it? I have also felt the glare of judgement. I have had other parents astonished that I did not work with my children at home with flashcards and other aids. I LET THEM PLAY! Studies have shown that children who are involved in too many extracurricular activities are over-stressed and children who receive no extra schooling are still at the same levels as the religiously over-taught ones by age 6. ( As long as there are no other problems–in other words, at least of average intelligence) Also, my daughter is in the gifted and talented program at school, she reads, does math, and other academic functions 3 grades higher than her third grade status. I never pushed her to do more than I thought she was ready to do. Let these poor kids play. Let them eat some junk food! Let them stay up a little later every now and again! Preach on Sister!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. miriam Says:

    Hey, thanks for the review–and so glad to have you on board the MotherTalk tour. Here’s to all of us having more fun with our kids, xo, Miriam

  7. Lawyer Mama Says:

    I’ll DEFINITELY check it out! Just call me lazy but there’s no way I could overschedule my kids the way some parents do today. I’d rather chase them around the back yard then cart them all over town for classes.

    And I enjoy watching TV with Hollis before bed too. Our guilty pleasure is Pingu.

  8. Mixter Says:

    My kid is considerably older, but I have always been pretty laid back. My daughter and I actually LIKE each other, she’s got a strong moral character, and she’s smart as a whip, so I figure we must have done something right.


  9. PunditMom Says:

    I’m so glad that I seem to be surrounded (in blogosphere terms!) by so many laid back mothers! That gives me faith that maybe there aren’t so many over-scheduled and harried kids (and moms!) out there.

    Mixter: Since your child is older, maybe you hae some tips for the rest of us!

    Paige: I know what you mean. When Rachel was that age, my “break” in the day was watching 15 minutes of “Elmo’s World” on Sesame Street with her.

    Thanks all you moms for your great comments!

  10. vasilisa Says:

    We aren’t quite that old yet… Just shy of 19 months. The only thing I think is reasonable for us is common sense… Otherwise I’d feel like such an incompetent mother, that I’d have to check into a clinic… We sleep late (rediculously late… cause dad works late… and we like family time.) We watch TV (baby Einsten) before bed. And sometimes even in the middle of the night, cause we have nightmares. We’ve been known to eat chocolates… Occasionally.

    The only positive thing I can think of is: we love broccoli! I don’t know why… I don’t even like it. But the kid does! Hurray! Let’s pretend it’s my parenting…

    (Unfortunately I’m not sure I can buy into momfidence. I don’t know how to enforce the rules. But I do believe in them. I’m a bit old fashioned. So I hope they hold a place for me in that clinic… Just in case.)

  11. Mixter Says:

    I have a 16 1/2 year old kid who suffered from severe obsessive compulsive disorder (successfully treated, for the most part), so hubby and I have been through a lot! I’ll have to post about Friday night sometime…

    I’d be happy to share stories with you gals!


  12. Mommy off the Record Says:

    Great review. I will definitely check this book out. I am all for getting perspective on this whole mothering thing. I know how easy it is to question whether you are doing all the “right” things with/for your child. But I like the idea of being more laid back about it all – after all, a stressed out mama is going to have a harder time being a good mama.

  13. Momish Says:

    Wow! I never heard of that book, I have to read it. I am lucky that my first parenting experience has come in sych with the internet and blogging. There are so many people out there that share the laid back attitude I have, and I get to connect and share with them through blogging. I would be a complete insecure mess with a total complex if it wasn’t for that. Still, I could still stand to read this book and have more confirmation! Thanks for the tip!

  14. Jenny Says:

    Love it!

    Hailey watches TV all the time and she’s brilliant. She just turned 2 and can count to 20 in spanish. Thanks. Dora the Explorer.

  15. Gunfighter Says:

    Her message in a nutshell — lighten up, have more fun…

    This applies to dads as well, friend.

    I wish that the hypermoms (and dads)would lighten up a bit.

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