by: Shirley Robinson Sprinkles, Ph.D
My new book, “Seven Keys to Successful Single Parenting” (Wheatmark, 2011), is just days from publication and already I’m shaking in my boots. When it comes to the subject of parenting, there are so many ideas of what constitutes “good” parenting. Everyone has an opinion. Most people reference their own upbringing, of which they either approve or disapprove as a model to raise their children by. In the book, I acknowledge, up front, that there is not one size that fits all; we do the best we can with the information we have—which is usually very limited. Anyone taking on a project that seeks to dispense advice on this very touchy subject should don thick armor, because the barrage of criticism is on the way! Well, I did it with this book, now I’ll await what’s coming to me.
“Seven Keys” is a small book that I began writing with my son, Jonathan, about three years ago. It was to be a mother and son conversation. In fact, we initiated the project with a tape recording whose format was question and answer; his questions, my answers. I still have the disc. After many starts and stops—mostly due to phone call interruptions (he has a “busy” business as a motivational speaker), we decided to table the project until a more quiet time and place could be arranged. That time and place never materialized. So, the project was completed as a “stand alone” of which I am the sole author. That means, of course, that I will have to take both credit and blame for its contents. Since the book is written from my personal perspective—having spent some time as a single parent—I can report that I don’t mind at all. All around me I see and hear the need for just such a book as I have written; one based on wisdom that has been forged from real life experience.
In the three years that have elapsed since I began writing the manuscript, I have gained three more grandchildren. That brings the total to eight, ranging in age from twenty-three years to nine months. From my front row seat, reserved for grandmas, I observe the pain and the pleasure of rearing today’s children. Although, admittedly, it’s different in many ways from how things were done in the past, it is also very much the same—parents still have to act authoritatively and responsibly in their role.
My purpose in writing “Seven Keys to Successful Parenting” was not just to focus on the things that I think I did right, it is not a self-serving treatise on my own prowess as a parent (that would take about two lines); but to also acknowledge mistakes that I made out of ignorance. Parenting is a very hard job—one that you never retire from—but is the single most important endeavor of one’s life.
Not just “good” parenting, but “great” parenting is needed to raise kids who will be prepared to lead us into and through the next millennium. Fundamentals of ethics and decency in behavior, as well as essential rules for development of positive human interaction and personal dignity must be carefully taught—no, “caught.” As I point out in the book, it all begins with parents. Children do learn what they live: the spotlight will always be on parents. So, do I dare write a book on such a provocative subject? Darn right, I do! I hope you’ll get it and read it. If you think it’s good, pass it on.
Shirley Robinson Sprinkles is semiretired and lives with her husband in Austin, Texas. She is the author of From Dunbar to Destiny: One Woman’s Journey through Desegregation and Beyond.
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