Like many adoptive parents, my husband and I gained experience in childproofing long before we gained experience in parenting a child. We childproofed our house for our home study visit - outlet covers secured, toxic materials raised to high shelves, safety latches attached to the windows- early on in the process. By the time our daughter arrived home, childproofing wasn't even fresh in our memory. It was just something we'd done to prepare our home for our child, to make it safe and welcoming.
The book Babyproofing Your Marriage: How to Laugh More, Argue Less, and Communicate Better as Your Family Grows (Collins) by Stacie Cockrell, Cathy O'Neill, and Julia Stone springs from a similar concept; it's the how-to behind keeping your marriage healthy and fun as you welcome children into your family. Written by three friends, it collects the marriage and parenting experiences of the authors, their friends, and a considerable number of perfect strangers into a practical guide for today's trying-to-do-it-all parents. Cockrell, O'Neill and Stone dive into issues such as romance, communication, sex, child rearing, work, housekeeping, time management and in-laws with purpose and a sense of humor.
Babyproofing Your Marriage is full of advice to help you integrate your original husband and wife roles with your new dad and mom roles. Moms and dads will find something (if not many things!) to identify with as the book fairly presents male and female perspectives throughout various phases of parenthood. Even better, you'll both find great tips such as the Dad's Training Weekend, Five Minute Fix, and the essential and too-easily-underestimated Divide and Conquer which are sure to refresh your approach to each other and to your new familial responsibilities. Cockrell, O'Neill and Stone make sense in their observations and suggestions; they give straight-forward advice from a been there, done that point of view.
It's true that Babyproofing Your Marriage employs stereotypes such as the workaholic, intimacy-starved dad and the bathrobe-wearing, martyred mom to represent common pitfalls of parenthood, but the authors' hyperbole seems used to catch the reader's attention, to wake you up. Sort of a Hey! Just because your new child is helpless doesn't mean you can ignore your partner! The joy of your marriage is what made you want to grow in your love in the first place! Their nudging works. By the end of the book, you've paid attention to all the little things they suggest and realized they might just make a big difference. You're ready to cast off the stereotypes and become your own version of a happy, healthy spouse and parent ready to enjoy the chaotic wonder of your life.
Spend some time with Cockrell, O'Neill and Stone- their chapters are great stand-ins for your real-life parent friends dishing their advice over lunchparticularly if your real-life parent friends are too overwhelmed or sleep deprived for this kind of chat. Whether you're a first-time parent, a parent in the process of adding more children to your family, or just a parent needing a boost of spirits, I highly recommend Babyproofing Your Marriage. It may not be an adoption-specific book, but the help it provides is just as necessary for adoptive moms and dads.
Violeta Garcia-Mendoza is a Spanish-American poet and writer living in Pennsylvania . She and her husband have two children: a daughter, Maya, already at home, and a son, Joaquin, coming home this month. Violeta's website is www.TurnPeoplePurple.com.
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