Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Guest Post: Single Mom/Book Coach Says: The Best Parenting Books are in the Business Section

Today we have a guest post from Rebecca McCarthy. Rebecca is a freelance writer and book coach at The Written CoachYour Guide to Writing an Unforgettable Book to Grow Your Business, as well as a single mom of two adorable boys. She shares with us a valuable discovery: Parenting is management, and kids are like employees. See how a management technique from a book focused on executive leadership development made bedtime at Rebecca's house a breeze, and check out some more of her insights. 

Find Rebecca at http://www.thewrittencoach.com, and check out her Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/TheWrittenCoach.


There are no bedtime battles in my house. At 7:00 my kids take a bath, brush their teeth, put on their PJ's, read a story and get into bed—all with much enthusiasm and no argument. But up until two months ago, this was not the case. My older son, whose speech is somewhat disordered due to autism, used to shout, “No bed! No bed! Mommy can you have give it play? I want play? I WANT PLAY!!!” My toddler always joined in, “I want pway! No sweepytime! AAAAAHHHHHH!!!!”

Determined to win these battles, I tried reasoning, negotiating, out-shouting, ignoring, soothing, cuddling, caressing, shushing, rocking, hugging—every technique in the book from Supernanny to Dr. Sears and beyond—and lost. After a while I just accepted that my kids weren’t going to be “sleep-trained” until they were much older. “Well it’s autism,” I said to myself. “He’s just not going to be ready to let go of me for a long time…”

The turnaround came when I was asked to write up a summary for one of my clients about a webinar based on the book, Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter, by Liz Wiseman. If you’ve never heard of it, it’s a Wall Street Journal bestseller focused on executive leadership development. Target audience = not single moms. I didn’t read this book expecting to find anything for me.

But there was an exercise in the book called, “The Extreme Question Challenge,” where you have to get a person, or a group of people, to accomplish a task, but you can’t use statements, directions, explanations or orders; you can only ask questions. It’s meant to help CEOs transition out of the Know-It-All mindset. The author learned about this technique from a co-worker, and then tried it on her kids. So I tried it on my kids…

That night at bedtime, I said, “What time is it?”

My older son said, “Bedtime!”

I followed up, “Oh. So…what do we do at bedtime?”

“We go upstairs!” he said excitedly and skipped towards the stairs.

“Shasha teef!” chirped the baby and ran after him. (…“brush your teeth” for those of you who don’t speak toddler.)

I went upstairs to find both boys standing at the bathroom sink, brushing away. When they finished, I asked, “What comes next?”

My older boy zipped over to his room and, all smiles, said, “Pajamas!”

“Where do pajamas go? On your head?”

“No! On your legs and on your tushy!” (commence giggles. You know, because, tushy).

I was really surprised at how much they knew. They didn’t need me to micromanage them through the bedtime routine. I was also touched by how much they wanted to impress me, and show me that they knew it. When I turned out the light and walked away, I almost cried. The problem with bedtime, all along, had been me.

I have since scoured Multipliers forwards and backwards, gleaning every ounce of instruction, inspiration and advice inside. I’m learning that leadership is a transformational process that takes practice and time, which is a concept I just never got from all the other parenting books out there. (I don’t know why exactly, but I suppose somehow it’s offensive to suggest that someone needs to improve their leadership skills in order to become an effective parent. It’s not what we want to hear.)

I've also changed the way I look at the business section of the bookstore. As the one-woman C-suite of my family, I've added the following books to my parenting library:

First, there’s Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, by Daniel H. Pink. From this book I learned the three key motivators for inspiring my emplo...er...my children to perform at the top of their creativity and intelligence. Simon Sinek’s, Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action is another great one. This life-changing book inspired me towards a deep inward search to discover what’s truly important to me about parenthood and why I chose to do it all in the first place. And The Speed of Trust, by Stephen M.R. Covey, taught me how to establish and nurture trust in my relationship with my kids.

When these authors set out to write their books, I sincerely doubt any of them had moms in mind. Their target markets are CEO’s and other business leaders, who manage multimillion-dollar organizations and have 500+ employees to supervise. But when a book speaks the truth, it becomes meaningful to all of us, even if all we supervise are two precocious little tots.

If you're reading my blog, it is likely you are considering writing a book to grow your business. Maybe it's worth taking a few moments to notice their far-reaching power. Books find their way to the people who need them, even if we don't know we need them.

If you are interested in writing a guest post for Jessica on Babies, contact Jessica at jessicaonbabies (at) gmail (dot) com, or message her through her Facebook page


  1. Great blog Rebecca!! I will take some of your advise. My area of negotiating is my 10/11 yr old daughter. I'm quickly learning I am going to need HELP! Thanks for sharing~

  2. Definitely trying it tomorrow night!

  3. Newmans: let me know how it goes! And I really mean that- I really want to know.

    Patty: you just made me realize the next parenting book I should pick up should be a business book about negotiating. The only one I can think of is Trump's "The Art of the Deal." But I'm not really a fan of the Donald so I don't want to go there. I'm going to look into this...