Parenting Blog

The official blog for Ann Douglas, parenting book author and weekend parenting columnist for CBC Radio. Ann is the creator of The Mother of All Books series and the author of Parenting Through the Storm. Her latest book, Happy Parents, Happy Kids, will be published by HarperCollins Canada in February 2019.

What Parents Love -- and Hate -- About Parenting Books

This may seem like a strange thing for me to write about the very same week that my latest parenting book is hitting the bookstore shelves, but there’s actually a very logical explanation. I just finished drafting an email to a group of parents who had responded to a survey of mine on this very issue. You see, back when I was just starting work on my new book, I had invited them to offer their best advice on what makes a parenting book helpful, not harmful. And, let me tell you, they definitely came through for me.

Here’s what I learned from them about what makes for a great — or a not-so-great — parenting book.

They told me that they were looking for parenting books that are diverse in every conceivable sense of the world: parenting books that reflect the fact that there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all experience of parenting—or even a one-size-fits-all definition of family. Here’s how one parent put it: “Share recipes for good parenting, but make it clear that parents can—and should—substitute different ingredients in order to create their own special recipe for parenting: one that may be different from yours, but that’s still amazing.”

Ann Douglas is the author of Happy Parents, Happy Kids, which was published by HarperCollins Canada this week.

Ann Douglas is the author of Happy Parents, Happy Kids, which was published by HarperCollins Canada this week.

They urged me to steer clear of pat solutions and quick fixes—and to recognize that “not everything works for every family — and that’s okay.” They also cautioned me to avoid giving parents the message that “they’re doing it all wrong.” Parents are already feeling anxious and guilty enough, they explained. What they need is more kindness and compassion and less judgment.

They challenged me to grapple with some really big-picture issues. Issues like the lingering affects of trauma (and how that affects both parents and kids); the many ways that public policy makes parenting harder; race; class; gender; neurodiversity; and the challenges of parenting in a rapidly changing and often very scary world. Above all, they urged me to confront my own privilege and to challenge myself to write for a range of readers, not just readers with experiences similar to my own: “Talk to a diverse range of parents! Not just people like you!” they said.

“Parents don’t have to be perfect. No one gets parenting right all the time." - Ann Douglas,  Happy Parents, Happy Kids

“Parents don’t have to be perfect. No one gets parenting right all the time." - Ann Douglas, Happy Parents, Happy Kids

They spelled out what they loved about parenting books they’d read — and what they just plain hated. The books that they loved were books that taught them something: books that provided them with new insights and strategies that they could apply to their lives as parents and that were kind, compassionate, and real at the same time. And, as for the books that they quickly tossed aside? Those were the books that tended to serve up impossibly high ideals: “Parenting is messy and exhausting and just plain hard sometimes. Reading about the perfect parent or the perfect kids just feeds that sense of failure,” they said. They also urged me to bring my own glorious imperfection to the table. “We need to throw out the idea of the perfect parent. And parenting book authors need to acknowledge the limitations of their own parenting abilities and knowledge.”

As you will see if you happen to read my book, I took the parents’ comments to heart. In fact, if you take a moment to skim through the book’s introduction, I think you’ll spot their fingerprints on every single page. (Or at least I hope you will.) I am grateful to these parents for inspiring me to write the bravest parenting book that I am capable of writing: a book that isn’t afraid to connect the dots between what’s happening in our communities and what we’re experiencing in our own families—and to talk about what would actually help to make things better for parents and kids.

Ann Douglas is the author of Happy Parents, Happy Kids, which was published by HarperCollins Canada this week.

The Mother of All Toddler Books, The Mother of All Toddler Workshops, and more!

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Sometimes I get so busy blogging about all things parenting that I forget to tell you about all the exciting things that have been happening behind the scenes.

I haven’t done a very good job of telling you, for example, that there’s a brand new edition of The Mother of All Toddler Books on the bookstore shelves — a massively revamped edition that takes into account the most important things we’ve learned about toddler development over the past 15 years, when the first edition of the book was published. Of course, what hasn’t changed is the book’s fiercely Canadian perspective: the fact that it incorporates recommendations from Canadian health authorities and includes the voices and stories of Canadian parents. It’s still very much a “mother of all” book, in other words.

Deeply rooted in the latest research about what allows young children to thrive and packed with practical strategies and fresh ideas, this kind and supportive book feels like a conversation with a good friend.
— Cathy Kerr, early childhood professional

Anyway, now that there’s a brand new edition of The Mother of All Toddler Books to share with the world (or at least in the tiny little corner of the world that is Canada), I’m going to be doing a fair bit of speaking about toddlers in the coming weeks.

Comprehensive, easy to read, this guide is packed full of great advice for parents trying to navigate the turbulent toddler years.
— Michael Dickinson, MD, past president of the Canadian Paediatric Society

This weekend (October 13 and 14), I’ll be at The Baby Show in Toronto, hosting two rounds of Toddler Trivia — a fun, interactive game featuring the most exciting prize imaginable. (No, it’s not a car! It’s a signed copy of The Mother of All Toddler Books!) Anyway, you can join in the fun on Saturday or Sunday afternoon at 1 pm. I hope to see you there.

On October 23, I’m joining forces with Hello, Baby! (a doula service and childbirth education company in Peterborough, Ontario) to offer “The Mother of All Toddler Workshops.” The fee for this workshop includes a signed copy of the book and the chance to participate in an intimate, small-group workshop. I hope you’ll join me and/or spread the word to family members or friends living in the Peterborough area.

On November 12, I’ll be giving a delivering “The Mother of All Toddler Workshops” to members of the Life With A Baby community in Thornhill, Ontario. The workshop is free for members and open to non-members for a nominal fee, but pre-registration is required.

I think that’s all the news on the toddler front. In the weeks ahead, I’ll be sharing news about my forthcoming book, Happy Parents, Happy Kids, which will hit the bookstore shelves in February. I’ll also be speaking at a number of parenting events and health conferences and I’ll be continuing to publish issues of my three brand new newsletters. (Go ahead. Make my day. Sign up for one or more of those newsletters….)

Parenting Through the Storm (American + International Edition) Has Just Been Published by Guilford Press

The US and International edition of Parenting Through the Storm by Ann Douglas has just been published by Guilford Press.

The US and International edition of Parenting Through the Storm by Ann Douglas has just been published by Guilford Press.

Over the past year, I've heard from a lot of parents in countries outside of Canada, wondering how they could get their hands on a copy of my book Parenting Through the Storm.

One American parent who really wanted to read the book went so far as to have a Canadian friend purchase and mail her a copy of the Canadian edition. Now that's persistence and dedication!

Well, as of this week, parents outside of Canada will no longer have to resort to such extreme measures to get their hands on a copy of the book.

The US and International Edition of Parenting Through the Storm has just been published by Guilford Press, a respected publisher of books about mental health, education, and parenting.

About the book

This is easily the most personal book I’ve ever written.

I talk about my children’s struggles, my family’s struggles, and my own struggles.

But this book is so much more than a book about struggle.

It is also a book about hope and healing and resilience—about practical things you can to do to make life better for your child and your family, starting right now, even before you have a definitive diagnosis or treatment plan in place.

A lot of that wisdom is based on the best advice of the 60 other parents I interviewed for the book—parents who bravely opened up about their families’ struggles in an effort to make things better for other parents and kids. These parents offered practical advice on everything from making sense of a child’s diagnosis to dealing with bullying to advocating for a child at school. And they offered messages of encouragement and support, like the fact that having a child who is struggling doesn’t make you a bad parent, just as being a child who is struggling doesn’t make your child a bad kid. It’s just the particular challenge your family is dealing with.

What people are saying about the book

The book attracted some very positive pre-publication reviews and it has already been featured in a few media stories, too:

How the American edition is different from the Canadian edition (and vice versa)

I've had a few people ask me how the Canadian and American/International editions of the book are different, so I figured I should answer that question here, too. The Canadian edition of the book is, well, very Canadian. It talked a lot about the mental health and education systems in Canada, featured Canadian experts, spotlighted Canadian research and resources, and suggested some uniquely Canadian solutions to our uniquely Canadian challenges. (Hey, I told you it was very Canadian.) That book wouldn't have been particularly helpful for an American parent who was trying to make sense of American laws (think ADA, IDEA, and 504) or to figure out what supports were available to their family and their child -- and what supports should be available to their family and their child (the advocacy piece of the puzzle). That's why I had to research and rewrite large sections of the American and International edition of the book from scratch. I figure that about 75% of the content is the same for the two editions of the book and about 25% is different. 

The good news is that I didn't have to tackle these far-reaching book revisions on my own. 

As I noted in the acknowledgments for the book, it's impossible to write a book of this kind without the help of a great many people:

So there you have it -- the book publishing news from here! 

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If you know someone who would benefit from this book (perhaps the parent of a child who is struggling, a teacher who wants to learn how to better support parents and kids who are going through a difficult time, or a clinician who would like to have a book of this kind to recommend to parents), it would be great if you would tell them about it. 

Any questions? Ask away! I'd love to hear from you.