Praised and Enthused

local man pens parenting book based on praise

Kinzy Janssen, photos by Andrea Paulseth

Author Bill Callaghan believes in parenting through positive tone and body language.

For Bill Callaghan, hot tubs have always been conducive to brainstorming. Fittingly, then, in 2000, the idea for Raised with Praise “landed like a cannon ball” – title and all – in a hotel hot tub where Callaghan was rejuvenating. The book would center on parenting, and would draw insight from two main reservoirs – Callaghan’s childhood, which he shared with 10 siblings, and his own parenthood, wherein he raised four kids along with his wife, Laurel.

Though the topics themselves range from golf to faith, the theme is firmly grounded in the Callaghans’ deliberate, proactive approach to parenting. To illustrate what he means, Callaghan gives two outcomes to the classic “spilled milk” scenario: parents can either react with harsh yelling, thereby insulting the child, or be proactive and grab a rag to help out.

“What I’ve seen and what I’ve heard is like a foreign language to me,” says Callaghan. “It’s sickening to see parents hit and verbally abuse their kids. Don’t be their boss; be their teacher. Treat them with respect and kindness. Be aware of tone and body language,” he says, reminding me that these signals account for 90 percent of any message.

These straightforward practices closely follow the methods his parents started employing after his birth in 1960. While still in the delivery room, his mother’s doctor posed a question that now carries a mysterious resonance. “What are you going to do differently with this one?” the doctor asked as he transferred Baby No. 8 (Bill) to her arms. As the story goes, she answered in an off-the-cuff manner, “I’m going to raise this one with praise.”

Though it seems the delivery room question prompted the entire thought, Callaghan suspects the new approach can be explained by the “grandmotherly intuition” that his mother was slowly gaining. “It was as if she was given another shot, but she was still raising her kids,” he says. “Nothing I did shocked them because they’d seen it eight times over.”

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