Thursday Interview: Denise Schipani, author of ‘Mean Moms Rule’
By NannyTimebomb on April 16, 2012
This week Nanny X interviews Denise Schipani, author of ‘Mean Moms Rule’ a book that offers timely child rearing advice, such as: do the hard work now and get the good stuff later. She’s a married, working mom of two, living in the suburbs. A self-employed writer and editor with a background in women’s’ and parenting magazines. We found Schipani’s book title compelling, so we tracked her down to explain what she meant by mean moms!
What made you write this book?
Well, I'm a writer, so there's that! But seriously, I started my blog, then called Confessions of a Mean Mommy, in 2009. At the time, writers were starting blogs daily, it seemed, but I didn't want to unless or until an idea struck me that I had so much to say about, I couldn't resist. And then it hit me: mean mommy! That's what I was. I'd written an essay I'd been trying to place about how I'd never bought my children toys when they were babies, or presents "from Santa" or for their birthdays before they knew what that meant. Why would I, when the few toys they'd gotten as gifts were delightful to them?
Why turn my house into a Toys R Us outlet? It struck me, this was a pretty offbeat stance in today's parenting world. I began blogging and in short order, I was contacted by a couple of agents wondering if I had future plans for book. I was interviewed for a story in the New York Times about how parents overprotect at bus stops, walking even middle schoolers halfway up the street, which I am most definitely against, and my blog got even more attention. Later that year, I started the process of synthesizing my ideas into a book proposal, which I shopped around to agents. Once I found one who believed in the idea, it took another six months or so for him to find a publisher -- and I was darned lucky to settle with Sourcebooks, who have been wonderful to work with.
What's the book about?
The book is divided into 10 chapters, each one of which detailing one of my 10 Mean Mom Manifestos. These are the principles I try to parent by, such as "Hang on to yourself" (which warns against losing yourself in motherhood); "Say no" (which is about how parents shouldn't be afraid of seeing their children temporarily uncomfortable); and "prepare your child for the world, not the world for your child."
This last one is the crux of the whole thing: too many parents today spend all their time trying to smooth out every bump and hurt in their child's life, which leaves these kids, as a generation, less well prepared to take on the world someday, as adults. That's when you end up with twenty- and thirty-somethings who can't deal with an adult life without their parents. But, I'm careful to add, I am not didactic or dull -- my approach is light and commonsensical, and dare I say, funny. We all need to cut ourselves some slack, keep our eyes on the prize of raising good kids.
Why do you think your message is so relevant today?
Because so many of us have seen the results of indulgent, helicopter parenting of the last generation or so, and that should make us wake up and realize we have the next generation toddling around our houses now. Do we really want them to be the kind of kids who can't go off to college without their parents running interference? I have a friend who hires and manages interns at a major magazine, and she has had interns' parents calling her to complain that their little dears aren't getting interesting-enough work. The question of whether the interns' work is interesting is beside the point; the point is that if these interns have something to say to their bosses on their own behalf, they should be saying it! I have another friend who is a college dean. When students' parents call to complain about grades or whatever, his first question is, "Is your child over age 18? yes? Then he or she can come see me on his/her own, thanks."
Now, I don't want to be too crazily critical of what parents did or used to do; I firmly believe we all do our best, and what we do is often influenced by the broader culture. Helicoptering seemed like the right thing to do for a long while, in a world that seemed less safe and more uncertain than we remembered from our childhoods. The impulse to care for and protect is always, at its heart, a good one. But I do think it's time we lifted up our heads from the here-and-now and thought more about the future.
Where can we buy your book?
Hopefully at any of your favorite booksellers! It's at Barnes & Noble, and at Wal-mart, and any independent bookstore can order it for you if they don't carry it (please support your indie bookstore, if you're lucky enough to have one in your town/city!). And of course you can get it online, at indiebound.com, amazon.com, and bn.com, or any of your preferred online retailers. Paperback, or Kindle versions are available.
The book was released April 1, and all the promotional efforts are still in the works! But come to my blog, http://www.meanmomsrule.com/,
or "like" my book's page on Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/pages/Mean-Moms-Rule/231093596950540, for up-to-date information.