THE MOTHER’S ALMANAC II <i> by Marguerite Kelly illustrations by Katy Kelly (Doubleday: $22.95; 408 pp.) </i>
“The Mother’s Almanac II,” a guide for parents of children aged 6-12, makes no bones about speaking to yuppie parents. A distillation of the baby-boom wisdom touted in magazine articles since motherhood came back in fashion, Marguerite Kelly’s mother-psychology aims to lighten the “having it all” burden. “You will not be all-loving, all-attentive all the time,” Kelly writes, “but no matter, your child will settle for less.” (Happily, the phrase quality time does not jump off every page.) The practical advice Kelly offers is sensible. The almanac tells parents what to expect at various ages, at transitional points (beginning junior high, the onset of puberty) and at the possible curves the family may be thrown (divorce, death). It answers such nuts-and-bolts questions as: At what age would giving the child a diary be a good idea? What about allowances? When will a haircut start being a point of contention? What are intelligence tests, and how seriously should they be taken? There are lists of books for children and parents, and lots of ideas for activities such as art projects and recipes (baking bread together is good for “bonding”). One of the few topics that gets short shrift here is science, but there are other good books on the subject.
On serious problems, Kelly offers particularly down-to-earth, anti-hysteric advice. There are very sensible ideas on dealing with bed-wetting or shoplifting, for example. The section on drugs and alcohol predictably dwells on good communication. However, Kelly also points out parental habits that may predispose children to experiment with intoxicating substances. The chapter on sexuality gives parents enough hard information to be able to answer the sort of questions children ask--and this is not all stuff parents know just because they’re adults.
“The Mother’s Almanac II” succeeds Kelly’s volume about children to age 6. Fathers shouldn’t be put off by the title; they will find the book useful, too.