Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Review: Mama Rock's Rules

Ten Lessons for Raising a household of Successful Children by Rose Rock, with Valerie Graham. Collins, May 2008. (Advance Review Copy) I was eager to get my hands on this parenting guide written by Chris Rock's mom. She's the mother of ten and foster mother of 17 additional children and she has a lot to say about how to raise strong, resilient, successful, happy children.

She speaks directly with a forceful, confident voice. She presents ten sections in this book focusing on ten major principles that guided her and her husband Julius in the parenting of their children. The rules cover the whys and hows of setting boundaries, discipline, structure, respect, positive communication, routines and traditions, integrity, education, expectations, responsibility, inspiration and determination. I found her no-nonsense approach to be heartening and based on common sense.

I have to say that nothing in this book was a surprise to me, since I have been blessed with two parents that taught me all the same lessons. It's good to hear it all again, however, and laid out in a down to earth, comfortable style. You could imagine yourself sitting down in her kitchen listening to her wisdom while she brews you some coffee and dishes out cookies. Even if you came to realize that, yeah, maybe you do let the kids watch a little too much TV and you hate homework time yourself, she's right that those are important and worthwhile things to keep trying to improve on. Eating dinner together, feeding the kids and listening to them chatter about their days; those are the blessing times. It's worth all the clean up to take the time to teach them table manners and there is no substitute for family laughter.

Since this is an early reviewer's copy I noticed there are a few places where it could use a little more editing. Some of it is repetitive and some of her folksy talk is distracting to someone as "cut to the chase" as me. Others may enjoy it more but I tend to be impatient. I just want to know the bottom line: how did she raise all those fine Black men? Give me the code.

She says in chapter one that sometimes we need to "pull out that can of Whup-Ass". Exactly how does she do it? She says,
"Let me be real clear" my whup-ass expands far beyond just a physical punishment. It's about whatever I can do to change a negative behavior. It is about taking something away from a child and how he feels about it. Believe me. I've got a lot of tricks up my sleeve for making that happen. I can unleash whup-ass disciplinary techniques like nobody's business."

I need to see that action. After 25 years of teaching and 20 years of parenting I think I have a pretty good range of whup-ass my own-self, but sometimes it just doesn't feel like enough. I need her to come over here and show me, because I want my kids to turn out like hers.

I have one other question. Maybe someone can help with this. On page 91 Rose Rock gives her recipe for biscuits, which she says she is known for as they are really good. I'm puzzled though, because her ingredients only list flour, milk and Crisco. I always have made biscuits with baking powder and salt as well. Can you make biscuits without any leavening? Wouldn't that be a cracker or a pie crust? And no salt at all? I think it might be a typo. Does anyone make biscuits this way? Please comment with your recipe.

You can read an interview with Rose Rock on the Today Show here and visit the publisher's page here. This review is sponsored by the MotherTalk blog tour. See other reviews here.


Carol P said...

How's your day going :)

It's quiet at work--so here's your answer to the biscuit question.



Andromeda Jazmon said...

Ha! That's funny but I can't see Mama Rock spending half an hour beating biscuits with 10 + kids running around. Maybe she gave them turns at it?

I saw on wikipedia that beaten biscuits can need beating for an hour to get them tender. Sheesh!

TheFamousStacie said...

She calls for "self-rising flour" which is a flour already containing baking soda and salt. Quite handy.