My main reason for reading this book was in support of the post I recently made on what I like to call “Wesley Crusher Syndrome.” If you haven’t yet read it, I use the post to discuss how and why youthful characters are so often done poorly, and some considerations for how they might be executed more effectively. I suppose I could have found a book that was a little more directly pointed at that topic, but I have long maintained that the best way to write a convincing character is to write based on real experienced. Now, I don’t know anyone who has experienced visiting the afterlife, or wielding Blood Magic, but I do know that a lot of people are children, and almost as many interact with them, so this seemed a logical book to read. At least, it did in my brain.
Like many nonfiction books, including several that we’ve reviewed here on the site, Parenting Is a Contact Sport suffered from a severe case of repetition. It wasn’t a long book, but however many tens of thousands of words it contained, I could pretty much communicate the same message in a single sentence: have a relationship with your children. All of the chapters, all of the awkwardly personal anecdotes that were supposed to be hacking my brain and convincing me of the author’s message, could really have been reduced to just that statement. Granted, some elaboration is useful, but I really don’t think that quite so many words needed to be used.
Considering that, to the best of my knowledge, most of us were children at one point in time, the way that most people seem to relate to children has long bothered me. Specifically: that people feel the need to treat children differently. Yes, there are neurological and developmental differences, but if I were going to write a book about interacting with children, mine would be summarized with this statement: treat children like they’re people, not like they’re children. Actually, that advice applies to a lot of situations, not just involving children. But I digress.
There were, inevitably, parts of this book with which I disagreed. It would be worth considering its contents in light of The Coddling of the American Mind, which I read before I started doing the weekly book reviews, but would certainly recommend as worth your time. If I expected to be interacting significantly with children on a regular basis in the near future, I would probably want to find a lot more books on these sorts of topics, but for my purposes in regards to writing, this seems adequate at the moment. It is therefore with some ambivalence that I suggest to you Parenting is a Contact Sport.