Monthly Archives: December 2012

Encouragement not Praise

One thing I’ve realized being the author of a parenting book, is you get to know authors of other parenting books.  One who reached out to contact me was Amy McCready, author of If I Have to Tell you One … Continue reading

Posted in Parenting with Renegade Rules | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

4 Responses to Encouragement not Praise

  1. We most definitely overpraise children these days (exhibit A: medals or ribbons for everyone who competes at some activity; “You’re all winners!” (Blechh! That ain’t the way life works, kiddies.)

    I feel I was raised with an appropriate amount of praise. If I got an A on my report card, I was praised. If I struck out in baseball, or was the losing pitcher, I heard, “You’ll get ’em next time,” not, “I LOVE the way you swung the bat so hard at that last pitch!”

    The one word I heard the most growing up was “No.” Way more important for kids to hear that than, “You’re so smart (or any other positive adjective).”

    My pet peeve praise phrase is “Good job!”
    *Hey, “Pet peeve praise phrase” is a cool phrase. Maybe I should copyright that and market the heck out of it.* 😉

    Kudos to Amy for getting it and being another strong advocate for intelligent parenting.

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Saying “NO” is indeed an excellent word. And love your ‘pet peeve praise phrase.’

      Besides ‘Good job!’ I really dislike “good girl” and “good boy.” Unless you’re talking to the family pooch, of course.

  2. “…gives you clear steps on how to change from a praise-giver to an encouraging parent.”

    This sounds like a great book that would make an excellent gift to give to parents.

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Yes, so many books are book on theory, but when you want to change you need clear steps. Thanks for your comment, Laurie.

Presence not Presents

“You must know that there is nothing higher and stronger and more wholesome for life in the future than some good memory, especially a memory preserved from childhood, of home. People talk to you a great deal about education. But … Continue reading

Posted in Parenting with Renegade Rules, Celebrating Holidays | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

8 Responses to Presence not Presents

  1. Memories, without question. We had our traditions at Christmas, too. The best was Mom reading “The Night Before Christmas” next to the tree to us three kids. Then we’d go up to bed with our special candles lit and guiding the way. It was a good way to put Christmas dreams into our heads just before falling to sleep–assuming we could calm our excitement enough to actually fall asleep.

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Love the image of candles and Christmas Eve poetry, Chris! Fantastic. Your mom knew how to build memories.

  2. “The joy of surprise that a gift brings is something to be treasured, not overdone.”

    As a minimalist, this resonates with my heartstrings – zing!

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Yes, I think some people overreact against too many presents by saying no to presents completely. That skips the joy. The element of surprise, care and insight into a gift is such a joy both to give and receive.

  3. Angie Lathrop says:

    Love the Dostoyevsky quote! For me, one of my favorite parts about Christmas is the music and the excuse to walk around humming…
    My sister-in-law started a tradition of making gingerbread houses and having a decorating party every year, usually about two weeks before Christmas, and now it’s unthinkable to not have Gingerbread House Day. She bakes (and puts together) 20-25 houses, makes the frosting, and we all bring candy and spend the day snacking and making our houses. She always takes pictures of each family with their house. Every year she invites the immediate family plus a variety of friends and acquaintances–it’s a slightly different mix every year. It’s super fun, relaxing, and there are no presents to purchase (just a competition to see who can bring the most original candy…)

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Oh my gosh, LOVE the Gingerbread House Day. Can I come? Sounds like a magical time. And humming is great, too, of course.

  4. Zane says:

    Lovely post, Heather. Singing at Christmas time is one of my favorite parts of the season as well. We’re still working on creating our own traditions as a family, and your caroling party is one of them!

    I grew up with what I would describe as an “overdone” Christmas (as far as presents were concerned), and one of my challenges is continually reminding grandparents to scale back for our children.

    I love the Dostoyevsky quote!

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Overdone gift-giving is far too common. For some people presents = Christmas. You also hit the nail on the head about what to do about the issue – sometimes convincing grandparents is even harder than doing stopping ourselves!

Books by the month

I read 24 books a year.  On good years, maybe more, but I always try to read at least two books a month. Reading is vastly important to me.  It’s one of my favorite parts about being alive. It’s my … Continue reading

Posted in What I'm Reading | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

10 Responses to Books by the month

  1. “…but now I stop and put a book aside if it’s not engaging me. Life’s too short to struggle through a bad book.”


    In your list I, too, have read: The Glass Castle, and The Art of Racing in the Rain (balled my eyes out on this one. I’ve added the rest of your recommendations to my must-read list, thank you!

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      You’re welcome! Word of mouth is still the best way to spread the news about good books. Happy reading.

  2. I was going to say “The Help” by Kathryn Stockett, but after racking my memory, I’m pretty sure I read it in 2011. So, believe it or not, (and I am in no way sucking up here) my favorite read was “It’s OK Not to Share.”

    That’s by no means a reflection of the quality, or lack thereof, of the other books I’ve read this year. Most of my reading has been first-published novels by now-bestselling suspense/thriller authors like Ken Follett, John Sandford, David Baldacci, and Dean Koontz.

    “It’s OK” was my favorite for the enlightenment it gave me, the new perspective, and the appreciation that there is a small but growing group of parents and childcare givers who truly understand children and aren’t trying to turn them into obedient robots who will glumly take their place in the vast economic machine and do as they’re told for 50 years while never having a creative thought or original idea the rest of their lives.

    I enjoyed the book so much that I actually recommended it to social acquaintances I know who are in the teaching/childcare field, which is something I’ve never done before.

    I still have trouble quitting a book in the middle, especially non-fiction. I reason that with non-fiction in particular, one must read the entire work so as to not miss a particular point the author may make toward the end of the book.

    But for fiction, I mainly finish a ‘bad’ book to see if the author can maintain that pace of drivel for an entire novel. Sadly, some of the worst books I’ve read are by bestselling authors. Which gives me hope, because there is no way I’d write like that– mainly droning on and on with a rambling plot, lackluster characters, and trite, repetitive dialogue.

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      You should become my official PR man!

      Thank you for your kind comments about my own addition to the books of 2012. New perspectives are startling and energizing, which is why I loved “Nothing to Envy” so much. Hope your teacher friends take a peek!

  3. Deidra Gorgos says:

    A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is absolutely one of my most favorite books in the entire world! I first read it when I was maybe 12 or so. I read probably once or maybe twice year until I was in my twenties. You have inspired me.


    • Heather Shumaker says:

      I can’t believe I waited so long to read it. What an outstanding book! So glad to hear it’s a favorite of yours, too, Deidra.

  4. Cari Noga says:

    Room – Emma Donoghue
    The Prospect of My Arrival – Dwight Okita
    Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn
    The Submission – Amy Waldman
    Queens are Wild – Jack Chaucer
    Also a great re-read: Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time.
    HAve you heard about Chris Brogan’s Three Book Diet? He’s challenging people to commit to read only three books from 11/1/12 to 11/1/13. Re-read all you want, but limit yourself to three. His point is that we don’t spend enough time absorbing the messages. I know I’d break, but it’s an intriguing idea.

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Oooh – thanks for sharing your list. I actually hadn’t heard of any of them except the “Curious Incident..” book (which I loved).

      A diet for book reading???! Ack. I find that idea appalling. Maybe he will live as long as a redwood, but I know I couldn’t stand it given my normal human lifespan.