Sometimes we come across a parenting book that must be shared with the Mom Collective community. Erin Daniel’s Volunteer Parent is one of these books.
Courtney Snow, our site’s owner, was moved to write a review on Volunteer Parent after reading it. As an extra treat, we even get a little bit of Erin’s own words at the bottom of the blog for our readers!
Not only is Erin a really great writer with some amazing insights and advice, she’s also a wonderful person.
I got the chance to chat with her for a little bit while I got a signed copy of her book. I couldn’t wait to start reading it. It’s packed with a lot of the most critical parenting challenges and situations we face raising kids.
I read the back of the book first and kept wondering why she kept referring to herself as a “volunteer parent.” I’m glad she didn’t leave me questioning that for long! We parents are all volunteers because we do the unpaid work of raising little humans. It’s a labor of love that we choose to do without payment or accolades. It was a unique perspective I hadn’t heard before.
I love that she shares her life stories – getting real, authentic, and raw – in each chapter. She then follows it up with her “unqualified advice” based on personal experience and many years of observations, along with advice from qualified sources.
I applaud Erin for her courage in standing up for herself and others, along with giving back, and then instilling the confidence in her kids to do the same. She tackles topics ranging from bullying to gender to race to finances to body image to anatomy to sex to gun violence and more.
We all parent differently
Another thing I really appreciate about Erin’s book is that she recognizes how every family and every child is different and that she’s not attempting to tell other parents HOW to parent; she’s more presenting a case study we can all draw on to see what works best for us and our families.
This is a must-read for any parent out there. She says it at the beginning of the book, and my own parents said essentially the same thing to me, “There is no rule book to parenting; you just figure it out as you go.”
Now that I’ve reached the teenage stage with my own daughter, I’m aware of how little time I have left to help shape the woman she’s becoming. It’s caused me to reflect more and more on all I’ve done right and all the times I’ve messed up.
A lot of what Erin shares in Volunteer Parent I have done over the years; other things I wish I would have had the confidence to do much earlier. When I had Adilyn, moms didn’t even talk about the REAL stuff.
Keep it real
I was just glad to find a Mom’s Collective when my daughter was about four years old. We were just finding the confidence to talk to each other without judgment or fear. Most of us hadn’t even gotten close to gaining the confidence to talk about all the real stuff with our young children!
I wish I could have had Erin’s book when Ady was little. Now, I will try and implement the practices in the short years I have left as a full-time volunteer parent before she goes off into the world as an adult without me.
Whether you’re planning to have kids or have children already of any age, get your copy of Volunteer Parent today!!!
My primary parenting goal is to support my kids to be the best people they can be. Since all kids are different, it’s really a matter of supporting each child to be the best possible version of themselves; working to help them identify and follow their strengths.
My husband and I have three young children and they are all incredibly unique, which means we parent them differently. They all have the same basic rules (“Brush your teeth”, “Be a good person”, daily responsibilities, etc.), but we parent each of them in a way that they can separately hear.
For us, this understanding happened gradually and organically as our kids encountered different experiences, opening up a new parenting challenge… like when our daughter was bullied at school, or when another kid at recess put his hand up to our daughter’s head in the shape of a gun, asking her if she wanted to die.
They are unique
Because they are each unique, they each react and internalize things differently. We just never know what encounters our kids will go through from day to day. As events arise, we determine how to handle them with our kids to help set them up for success as they maneuver through a complex childhood.
I learned more about who our kids are simply by paying attention and listening. I watched how each of them reacted to different scenarios, and how they acted when they were in trouble or made a mistake.
I watched how they each responded when our dog of fourteen years died. That milestone taught me a lot about each child’s emotional intelligence, as well as how they dealt with grief. One of them cried for weeks and weeks. She’s very in touch with her feelings. One was angry and in denial. Her sensitive feelings turn to anger when she feels like she’s out of control of a situation. One had to take time to process this and talked about our sweet dog for years and years to come. He processes information in a more methodical way and talking about it helps him heal.
I had to train myself to stop. Put down my phone. And listen. Be in the moment and engage with them.
It’s really easy to answer kids’ questions in the moment. Sometimes we answer half paying attention and move on without much additional thought. It takes extra effort to be intentional in communicating with them and in how we give them attention.
In our family, we schedule time to be with our kids individually. They each have private time to ask questions, share about their day, or talk through something weighing on their minds. We offer them intentionality and focused attention. This results in greater trust in us and a stronger relationship.
When we show that are listening and are there to help them navigate through challenges, their trust in us is reinforced and their confidence in themselves grows.
The tough stuff
Teaching kids to have confidence in themselves is tough. Furthermore, teaching them to love their bodies and how to stand up for themselves (as needed) is hard work. We communicate regularly with our kids. It encourages them to share when they are facing negative feelings or have feelings of despair or fear.
The hard conversations are the ones that are the most impactful to them. I have to remind myself if I lie to them about how the world works or avoid a conversation because I’m uncomfortable, the end result is they will lose trust in me and ultimately feel alone or scared.
Our kids have no misunderstanding about who is in charge of our household or sets the rules, but they do know that they are important, their ideas matter and we love and support them. We have lots of fun. We laugh and hug a lot. Sometimes we yell. It’s all a normal part of parenting.
I’ve shared our ideas for building confidence, trust and stronger family relationships in my new book, Volunteer Parent. I have been a financial advisor for over twenty years, so I have also shared ideas on how to teach kids financial responsibility, as well as how (and why) to give to others.
Our objective is to raise kids to be kind, responsible and able to survive the world on their own when we eventually kick them out of the nest.
Here’s the link to check it out and get your own copy today: Volunteer Parent by Erin Daniel