Dear Sober Dad,
What’s the best book you ever read about parenting?
– Tom H., Santa Barbara, CA
Dear Tom H.,
I’ll tell you, but only if you promise not to call the animal rights people (or the equivalent group for children’s rights).
It’s The Dog Whisperer by Cesar Millan.
You heard me right – that’s the best book on parenting I’ve ever read.
The premise of The Dog Whisperer is that lots of people think their dog is their little child. Their substitute child for a human one.
So they dress their dog up in cute outfits, give them special treats until the treats aren’t special, and try to figure out what the dog wants instead of telling the dog what’s up.
Millan says that dogs are pack animals – and if they don’t see a pack leader when they look around, they get confused and then assume that they are the pack leader.
Which is why dogs get so confused about things – and why they’re so easy to straighten out.
Millan acts like the alpha dog around the “confused” dog – who immediately snaps to attention, relieved that he finally has someone to follow, which is what dogs instinctively do.
When I read this, I thought, that’s it! Kids are exactly the same!
If the parent isn’t the pack leader, children get confused…and take the lead role in the family, bossing the parents around.
The parents now think that the child is “bossy” by nature.
The parents are passive and afraid by nature. Maybe the parents also haven’t completely grown up and realized they need to take responsibility for themselves, their kids, their family!
So instead of sending the children for therapy to wipe out this bossiness, the parents must simply step up and be the pack leader.
Which allows children to relax and just be a child.
Instead of being confused and instinctively filling the leadership gap you have inadvertently created.
Millan offers one more key tip: run dogs early.
He says that dogs are so full of energy when they wake up that you need to get them moving first thing – run them, so they can dissipate that energy and be comfortable.
Same thing with kids.
By the by, Tom, Sober Dad is coming out with his own book on parenting early in 2017.
The good news is that it isn’t a dog book to be applied to children.
It’s a sobriety book to be applied to people like us who are raising kids.