By Jennifer Mazzoni
I first heard KJ Dell’Antonia on the parenting podcast, The Longest Shortest Time.
She was promoting her book, How To Be A Happier Parent. Her 10 mantras for happier parents resonated with me right away. She was relatable, genuine and offered advice without claiming to be an expert. Her experience comes from being a mother of four children, and throughout her book, she reiterates to do what works best for your family. Happiness and parenting are relative.
Dell’Antonia is not Buddhist, but a few of her happier parent mantras are inspired by Buddhist teachings, such as “there is nothing wrong,” which came from Sarah Susanka’s The Not So Big Life. Rick Hanson (Hardwiring Happiness, The Buddha’s Brain) inspired another mantra: “soak up the good.”
Parenting can (and does) induce stressful moments on a daily basis for me, so remembering to “soak up the good” moments has made a significant difference in my life. It’s a practice, and sometimes I’m not as mindful as I’d like to be, but when I take the time to be present and absorb the good I’m a much happier person.
The author tackles a wide range of family life topics such as, morning routines, siblings, screen time, discipline, food and free time. She offers real life examples of where things have gone wrong for her family (sibling rivalry, picky eating, homework challenges, etc.) and advice that is honest, kind and lacks judgment, which was a welcome change.
I’ve received (unasked for) advice from a wide range of people from the moment I was pregnant.
Most of them will insist “well, that’s how I did it, and my kids turned out fine.” I know most people mean well when offering parenting advice, but it turns me off when they infer that I’m doing it wrong because it’s different from how they raised their kids. This is why I loved Dell’Antonia’s mantra “you do you.” What works for one family may not help another.
We live in a digital age of ubiquitous screens, social media and rapidly changing technology. So how I raise my children will be different from the generation before. It doesn’t make either way wrong—only different.
Some of the advice applied to older children, such as homework and how to manage sports/activities, which didn’t apply to my current parenting situation (mine are two and four). This is a book, however, that I plan to re-read as a guide as my children grow. It’s easy to get caught up in the daily stress and for time to pass without even noticing. Mindfulness and helpful resources such as How To Be a Happier Parent are great tools and reminders to “soak up the good” and to live every day of your life.
I highly recommend this book for parents who feel stressed out or overwhelmed and are seeking ways to feel happier.
Jennifer Mazzoni M.S. CCC-SLP, is a full-time mom, part-time Speech Language Pathologist, and she works part-time in a rehabilitation setting. She lives with her husband, two daughters, and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel in the Chicago area. Follow her blog, Help Mama Meditate, and catch her on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest!
Editor: Dana Gornall
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