My siblings should all read this. It explains a lot about how my parents raised us. Not that we turned out perfect, but then neither did Elizabeth Beckwith, presumably. The point is, I’m convinced that one of my sisters (or possibly one of my cousins – many of my aunts and uncles practiced this parenting technique, as well) actually wrote this book and changed some names to avoid embarrassing my parents…or giving them credit (blame?).
The book isn’t fabulous – it’s kind of a one-note joke, and works best if you break it up and read a chapter every now and then, rather than gulp it all down at once. But it’s surely worth reading just for this gem of advice, which I am SURE she stole directly from my parents:
Speak loudly and disparagingly of people who do bad things. For example: “Can you believe how fast that guy is driving through the parking lot? What a moron! That’s how people die!” (It’s always good to sprinkle the fear of death into these lessons whenever possible.)
Her whole concept of creating an us vs. them mentality in your children, and then constantly pointing out what’s wrong with all of the “them”s reminded me so much of my own parents that I laughed out loud more than once. My parents were always big on pointing out people that they disapproved of and telling us in no uncertain terms that we didn’t want to be like THOSE people, did we? Yes, if I didn’t know all of my sibs personally, I’d think this woman grew up with us. All in all, a fun read, even if you just skim the highlights.
Not exactly a read-alike, but in a similar vein: The Three-Martini Playdate: A Practical Guide to Happy Parentingby Christie Mellor.
Go out right now and buy this book. Whether you are a neurotic mess like me or not, there will be at least one segment that will speak to you. When it does, it will make you laugh until you cry. Trust me. And come on, how could anyone fail to enjoy a book with the subtitle “Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened”?
Allie Brosch is a blogger who writes mostly about her odd childhood experiences, her dogs, and her various brushes with anxiety and depression. She illustrates her blog with pictures she draws using Paintbrush. If you have ever used Paintbrush, you probably know immediately that these illustrations are … well, primitive would be the polite word. How she manages to get such expression onto the faces of what are basically fattened-up stick people and dogs I will never know.
I have been reading her blog forever, but when I heard that her book would contain FRESH NON-BLOGGED ABOUT MATERIAL, I signed right up. Yes, I bought 4 copies, because I knew some friends needed this one for Christmas (sorry if I haven’t seen you yet and just spoiled the surprise…). Partly I admit I bought the book because her blog is so funny I felt guilty reading it for free and thought I’d cough up now that some of it exists in print. Also – what if the Internet stops working? I will need this shit archived! And then I realized I hadn’t reserved one of my four copies for myself, and got one from my library until I have more book money.
To my family: you know how you’ve probably wondered all these years what is wrong with me? Read this, it will explain (nearly) everything.