Do You Have a Monster Living in Your House?
See below for giveaway

I had a perfectly lovely, sweet little girl living with us until she started to walk.

Then she turned into a monster.

For four and a half years before that, I had what I had longed for, what all mother’s-to-be hope for—an easy, happy, cooperative, snuggly little boy—and I felt like the best mother in the world. Then Molly was born.

I felt like sweet baby Molly had been abducted and in her place dropped in this alien child I had no idea how to handle. She suddenly screamed and fought. She didn’t want to do anything, and she certainly didn’t want to do what I wanted her to do. Everything I tried was wrong. I felt like my best-parent-in-the-world medal had been ripped from around my neck.

Molly and I screamed at each other, sometimes from opposite sides of a door I was holding closed. We were in power struggles daily. (Confession: I was a parent educator and recent Masters degree recipient in Early Childhood Development.) What was wrong with this picture?

We all know how much easier it is to see what others need to learn when we can’t see beyond our noses in our own backyard. But I knew that what I was doing felt wrong, so I went on a quest to find what was right—at least most of the time.

Molly was my teacher. I learned in the trenches of everyday battles how to understand her and where she was coming from. When I did, responding appropriately was easy. When I thought she was out to get me, it was all I could do to keep from running away.

It’s all in the perspective. That’s why I love Emily Lemole’s new children’s book, How to Tame a Monster. Emily’s got the perspective thing down.

Violet’s little brother, Rupert, is a monster—everyone agrees. Except Violet. Violet understands what Rupert needs and gives it to him. She doesn’t have to worry about what he will turn out like or what rules he has to follow the way parents do. Violet is simply with Rupert on his level. She understands him. She knows how to connect with him and when she does, he is happy—often annoying, but happy and therefore responsive.

Not only are the illustrations by Emily Quintero delicious (one of my favorites is the look on Rupert’s face when the babysitter puts him in his room), but the story appeals to so many little monsters out there who identify with Rupert. Rupert helps them understand themselves. Violet is the voice of reason for parents to see how much simpler it can be. She is the illustration of how a calm and understanding approach can help a little monster be much less of a monster.

What I needed to learn about Molly was that she wasn’t out to get me. It had nothing to do with me. It was just that so many things overwhelmed her and made her miserable, especially when people didn’t get her—most especially when her mother didn’t get her.

(Note: Molly is now a grown woman and is the person I most admire on planet Earth. Learning what she needed—and what I needed in order to parent her—was the most important learning I ever had.)


I am so happy to be able to offer a free book giveaway of Emily Lemole’s charming, How To Tame a Monster. Simply write a comment below with something about your little monster to enter the giveaway.

On Sunday, June 21 (Father’s Day) by midnight, I will pick a winner using a random number generator. The winner will receive this fabulous book in the mail.


The winner of the book wrote me this email:

We received this book earlier this week and my 6 year old son has asked me to read it to him at least ten times. I’m delighted by it too. Thank you again!


22 thoughts on “Do You Have a Monster Living in Your House?

  1. Yes, I’ve had a monster appear in my house at times. Thankfully we’ve developed ways to handle the monster, but it was a huge learning curve for all of us. And I truly needed to learn to accept the monster for who “it” was and let go of what I wanted “it” to be. This book looks like a winner.

  2. Our four year old grandson decided that meanies and monsters were not allowed to enter the family home, therefore, rendering them powerless over controlling all who lives or visits inside.
    “Signs” were hand-scribbled by my grandson and transcribed into handwritten ones by his mama clearly stating in varied renditions that in summation, “Meanies and Monsters are NOT ALLOWED HERE!” These were taped to the outside of the front door. Those proclamations were “cute” the first couple of days but soon became unsightly.
    However, those seemingly silly, scribbled signs still stay taped to that front door! Their messages have since faded and the corners have curled but they served as important shields of protection, shifting the fields of power that helped calm fears, transform unwanted/undesired behaviors and strengthened new-found confidence.

    1. Nancy – I love this! And I love how you describe what it was about for your grandson. I too have a 4 yr. old grandson!

  3. Timely. While there’s always been plenty of monstering from my oldest two, my third was sweet and (relatively) compliant until yesterday, when a monster suddenly emerged (perhaps because #4 is now here?). I think he’d appreciate Rupert’s perspective.

  4. I’ve “known” this deep truth about parenthood for some time (thank you Bonnie) but it’s still often a struggle to live up to it. The brightest reward comes when my child forgives me, her understanding is a great inspiration for me to do better, and know that underneath our conflict is enduring love.

  5. I am very much at the dawn of this stage with my 2.5 year old twins. As a single mom, I need as much help as I can get to get us all through these early years in the best way possible.

    1. Molly – as well as this book for your twins (I have almost 2 yr. old twin grandkids), I would also recommend my book, Confident Parents, Remarkable Kids: 8 Principles for Raising Kids You’ll Love to Live with. (Just had to get a plug in!)

  6. My son is now 6 1/2 and I am always looking for ways to connect with that part of who he is. I am looking forward to checking this book out!

  7. I had to deal with an adult monster in our family, ME!! I used to be a screamer,slam the door, hide away, yell, anything except calm down and be an parent. By reading ‘Confident Parents, Remarkable Kids’, and a book written for the male audience(can’t remember the name of it) and ‘How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk’ I learned to be a better, calmer and less stressed mom. My kids are forgeting that there ever was a ‘Monster Mom’ and I no longer feel that anger and despair that I would forever ruin my kids lives.

    1. Glenda, I am so glad you wrote this comment and I hope everyone else will read it. You are the type of mom who can really give others hope. So many feel despondent that they can’t change and have ruined and will continue to ruin their kids. You show us all that it can be done! Congratulations. You have made, in my estimation, the most important accomplishment in the world.

  8. I have a 6 year-old son, but I have to admit that most often I feel like “my little monster” is Me!

      1. Thank you for pointing that out to me, Bonnie. I read Glenda’s comment and I resonate with it, and your response to it very much.

  9. I would love this book to share with my kids, who all think of each other as the “monster” at times! I’m always looking for new ways to help increase the empathy between them (and remind me to have empathy FOR them)!

  10. Before I had children I always thought that they would be my mini-me. My first daughter QUICKLY proved me wrong. She is a challenge every day but her strong spirit is so admirable that I wouldn’t change a thing. She is definitely our little monster. This book would be perfect

  11. My three year old has started manifesting a monster who will scream and cry for an hour or two at a time. We are working hard to figure out what the monster needs, but it is tough!

    1. He needs your acceptance of who he is more than anything else. You won’t always know what he needs but acceptance is always needed. If he knows he has that, he will be fine.

  12. I have a two year old “monster” we nicknamed him Marcus. As frustrating as it can be this makes it a tad easier.he truly does transform into a different person. You can see it in his eyes and face. And then he’s back. Def going to give this book a read!

  13. I really relate to Glenda’s comment so much. The monster in me that I have to battle with is the one that, when confronted with difficult behaviour from the kids, first rears up with a roar of “why the hell do I have to deal with this crap??!” and slams out of the room, and then piles on the guilt afterwards for being a crap mum who is damaging her kids permanently. Glenda – so good to hear that you can break out of that trap!

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