When Shawn Hosford and Mark Israel’s daughter was young and didn't like the rules or boundaries being imposed, her mama explained that the rules came from a parenting handbook that all parents received. Simply put, they were non-negotiable. Shawn would additionally clarify, “The handbook is invisible to children—only their parents can see it. One day, if you have children, you'll be able to see the handbook too.”
Though Carly (Shawn and Mark’s daughter) isn’t yet a parent, she is a world-traveled adult busily forging a life of her own. Knowing how quickly life can fly by, Shawn decided she needed to write out that handbook for her daughter before the stories faded too far into the past. Hosford says, “I wanted to share with her, and others who might be interested, the stories that we heard and experienced that helped us become better parents. I wanted to make that invisible handbook more visible.” This book is the culmination of those efforts.
When Shawn’s daughter was four, Shawn and her husband became foster parents to a seven year old child, who’d been in and out of the system for seven years. While parenting this child, the couple realized the critical need for guidelines to help foster parents succeed. Shawn followed her passion for parenting and started FosStars, a foster-care agency, where she and her team created an eight-week, intensive, solution-based course designed to help guide parents through the ins and outs of parenting children with a variety of challenges. Writing The Invisible Parenting Handbook is a logical progression from Shawn’s past work helping people become thoughtful and creative parents.
This book was written for Carly by her Mama. Here's a brief description of mama by Carly:
Sometimes my mom flies through this world like a gale-force wind. But, I always know my Mama is my biggest supporter. Bypassing compliments such as “You’re smart” or “You’re beautiful,” my mother shows her love by facilitating my growth. She loves in a way that surpasses physical proximity. Sometimes when I think about my mother, I imagine her carrying these big baskets full of people, me included. Not because we need her to hold us up, but because she chooses to take us under her wings regardless. Sitting in my Grahamstown, South Africa bedroom, I can still feel her wings stretching from Seattle to nurture and encourage me. To call her a people person would be an unfortunate understatement. In fact, I’ve never met a person who is more unassuming, outspoken, genuine, supportive and welcoming in my life.
Mama's philosophy is that parenting comes in all different shapes and sizes and that, above all else, becoming a parent should be a choice. One size never fits all. Every child has different needs. Every parent is an individual. To name just a few qualities that parenting takes: being intentional, maintaining consistency, staying present, remaining flexible, and focusing on the end game. There a many ways to achieve great outcomes for our children, by looking toward their future and developing a road map in advance you may find it easier to find that path that works best for you, your child, and your family. What I found to be most useful was to write a list of our goals and wishes for Carly's future when she was very little. It was also important to us to have a strong village of support.
I hope that our story will touch the heart of many, inspire others to become clear and more conscious about the outcome of their actions with regards to parenting, and to move our communities and world to a place of more caring and sharing.
"Although Shawn Hosford is not a professional writer, she is a great storyteller. The Invisible Parenting Handbook reads comfortably, like a conversation with an old friend over scones and hot tea at the kitchen table. I would recommend this insightful book to any parent, especially those starting their journey of raising a family." — Bruce Battoe