I just got this month's issue of Parents magazine which my sister continues to renew for me because she is a generous soul. I have not yet found a tactful way to tell her to not bother. I have nothing against the magazine, but rarely does an issue give me any information that is pertinent to my family.
Take this issue for example: in the food fun fast section, the authors claim that "you can hook your child on clam chowder or any kind of healthy soup simply by floating a tiny treat on top." I don't care if you float a life-sized Thomas the Train engine, my children will not touch clam chowder with a 10-foot pole. Danny never eats soup; in fact, he doesn't eat anything with competing textures: no chili, no stew, no soup, heck, not even ice cream with chunks. And don't think I haven't tried bribes and funny shaped foods, etc. but still the powers that be at Parents think they have my son's dietary problems solved. Please.
In another section, they suggest playing Simon Says before bedtime to get your kid through his routine in a relatively calm fashion. The author says, "It is a relatively quiet game that won't escalate your child's energy level before bed." This is actually inaccurate in our case. Almost anything, but especially a game, can escalate Danny's energy level anytime of the day or night.
I used to think the reason so little of the information in these magazines applied to my family because of Danny's sensory needs. I know that he is an unusual kid in a lot of ways and I can't expect the parenting authors to understand that. Still, it would be nice if these magazines had a decent article once in a while (more often than once a year, please) dealing with kids with special needs. I mean, there are probably more kids with special needs out there than we think. If you include kids with ADHD, speech delays, motor delays, physical handicaps, sensory problems, autism spectrum disorder, etc. we might actually have more special needs kids than "normal" kids.
Anyway, after this issue, though, I am changing my opinion; these articles don't even help me with my "normal" child. I think that the info is just so generic that the advice may not work on a lot of children. In another article this month, the author confesses to being really lenient. So, she undergoes a "pushover mommy makeover." I have no problem, per se, with the advice, but more with the outcome. The author claims that becoming less lenient was a piece of cake for her and her son, who she previously claimed was walking all over her. She says, "Surprisingly, it's been kind of easy. Will listens when I tell him what the routine is...He doesn't fight me."
Does anyone have a toddler who wouldn't fight them when the parents suddenly instituted rules? Because I would sure love to meet the kid. My daughter is a very spirited little girl, and like most toddlers, she wants her own way. When we lay down the rules (which I routinely am forced to do) she lets me know she is not happy about it. In her case, it could take me weeks to get her to really cooperate with a rule. In fact, we are undergoing this process as we speak, as I am forcing her to wear clothes when we leave the house and keep her diaper on when we stay at home. She doesn't like it, but after weeks of battling, she is finally giving up. Mostly.
Maybe the real problem is the magazines try to appeal to everyone: parents of babies up until teenagers, parents who work, parents who homeschool, parents with easy kids, difficult kids, etc. How can there really be one formula that actually applies to everyone? Each kid and parent is so different. Still, I often find myself rolling my eyes at yet another attempt to get my kids to eat their veggies by disguising them as caterpillars. Do they really think my children will fall for that? Or like when I read about some cliche piece of parenting advice, like potty training tips, which I have tried for years, and which are not working on my son.
I don't mean to bag on Parents magazine; it is just not the right fit for me. I do wish there were a good parenting magazine out there that dealt with unusual situations, not just the ideal, typical scenarios. You know, to help those of us out there who have kids who do crazy, unexplainable things.