Doug Peine Interview, plus links to author biography, book summaries, excerpts and reviews

Doug Peine

Doug Peine

An interview with Doug Peine

Doug Peine explains why he things why he thinks good parenting is just 'not that complicated', and why, as a trial lawyer and parent, he feels in a unique position to give advice!

What is the logic, if any, of a lawyer writing a parenting book?
I was in line at the checkout at Kmart when I had one of those sudden flashes of insight, one of those moments we see connections between things we'd never noticed before. I had spent most of that afternoon trying unsuccessfully to help an estranged couple resolve their disputes so that they could avoid the trauma and expense of a divorce trial. Now, in Kmart, I watched as the toddler in a cart ahead of me absolutely refused to put back the candy bar she had grabbed from a box by the checkout. There in that child's body language, tone of voice, and insistence upon irrationality did I see the very same patterns played out in my conference room that afternoon. And so it dawned on me: It's Not That Complicated.

Do you honestly believe good parenting is "not that complicated"?
I absolutely believe it. And the supporting evidence is abundant. Think, for example, of the times you yourself have been held hostage to one of those public, pitched battles between parent and child. Do you see an endless variety of parental mistakes? Or the same one or two over and over? And why is it that unsophisticated parents who take the job seriously have just as much success raising happy, well-adjusted children as, say, child psychologists? There has to be at work among those who parent well, not a specialized knowledge, but a fundamental common sense. It is that common sense my book seeks to rediscover.

How, exactly, do you define a "happy, self-reliant" child?
In the book our aim is to nurture children who:

  1. Have the ability not only to fully enjoy the pleasures of life but also to gracefully bear their sorrows;
  2. Are self-disciplined;
  3. Are compassionate toward, and respectful of others.

Thumbing through your book I noticed several references to Kmart. What's that all about?
One of the early titles for the book was Parenting Lessons From the Checkout Line at Kmart. That's because we spend a lot of time looking at those public parent/child struggles that seem to take place in that particular store as nowhere else on the planet.

If parenting "is not that complicated," then why do so many seem to do such a poor job of it?
While good parenting isn't complicated, it isn't necessarily easy. To parent well means committing time and effort. It also means establishing in our children the same self-discipline which, let's be honest, many of us haven't quite figured out yet how to develop in ourselves.

There are thousands of parenting books on the bookstore shelves. What makes yours different?
Among other things, it is brief and to the point. When I myself went looking for advice on parenting, I became convinced that many books on the subject are padded so as to fill out a certain standard length. There may have been some nuggets of wisdom in there some place, but they were nearly impossible to locate among the irrelevancies and redundancies. And the fact is, new parents never have had less time in their lives to spend prospecting for those nuggets. They're after crisp, confident information now. Please cut the crap.

Do you believe in spanking or any other form of corporal punishment?
Absolutely, positively, categorically, unequivocally not. The reasons are several and obvious:

  1. We don't allow corporal punishment of our worst criminals. Why should we do it to our children?
  2. Nineteen times out of twenty, physical punishment is inflicted not as the result of a parent's calm and rational assessment that it is needed. It is done for no other reason than the parent is angry and wants to vent. Thus, the line between corporal punishment and abuse is very, very thin.
  3. There is nothing positive spanking can achieve that non-corporal disciplinary measures cannot.

Bottom line, unless you want to teach your child that it is appropriate for the stronger to physically hurt the weaker, there is no legitimate reason to ever strike your child.

Are the twelve rules in your book the only rules that apply to parenting?
Of course not. But the reasonable goal is not to acquire all knowledge, only enough to work with and not feel overwhelmed by. I firmly believe that if a parent follows my twelve rules consistently, he or she will have a very good chance of turning out to be a very good parent.

What is the most common mistake parents make?
It occurs when they say "no" to their child and then do not enforce it. If your child learns early on and consistently thereafter that you will not brook disobedience, you will not only have few behavioral problems you will also be nurturing a happier child who understands her limits and is able to trust her parent's word.

Is any one of the twelve rules in your book more important than the others in developing happy, self-reliant children?
I'm convinced that the most crucial feature of parenting is making sure that your child has absolutely no doubt that you love her unconditionally. Such confidence seems to provide the rock solid foundation that is essential if we are to be able to accept our sorrows in life and to enjoy our pleasures. Those of us who don't have that foundation, spend the rest of existence looking for it in one usually self-destructive way or another. The rest of us can get on with our lives.

Unless otherwise stated, this interview was conducted at the time the book was first published, and is reproduced with permission of the publisher. This interview may not be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the copyright holder.

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