As the cover suggests, this book is “A Parent’s Guide to:
Urinary Frequency, Daytime Accidents, Constipation, Encopresis, Bedwetting,
and More.” Dr. Smith is exceptionally well-qualified to address
these issues as both a parent and as Fellow of the American
Academy of Pediatrics, of the American College of Surgeons, and of the
Society of Pediatric Urologists. (The aforementioned Fellow status means
he did residency work in three separate areas and is board-certified with
each of the three organizations.) The information he presents is comprehensive,
perhaps exceeding in scope what a typical parent would find useful, though
I tend to appreciate having more than I need, just in case.
I was frustrated with this book. In fact, I’ve had difficulty writing
this review because I’d really like to recommend something like
this for parents, especially those struggling with their children’s
medical issues which reach beyond the typical potty training “excitement” each
of expects to experience. I hate to sound nitpicky when someone has put
in effort trying to fill a need such as this.
Having said that, here are my complaints: Most of all, Dr. Smith could
have used a skilled proofreader. The awkward grammar, misspellings, and
sometimes odd syntax distract the reader to the point that it becomes
difficult to absorb the information. The interchangeable use of terms
can be confusing if you don’t already have familiarity with the
conditions the author is outlining. While he is clearly trying to speak
thoroughly to a non-medical audience, the terms are sometimes so simplified
that it seems as if he’s talking down to parents (or to their children)
and at others as if he’s slipped into the writing of a medical text.
While there is no doubt that he’s qualified to write such a tome,
Dr. Smith would have an editor for such an undertaking, just as he should
have had here.
As an aside, self-published books often struggle against these issues.
While there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with the subject matter,
presentation is everything when trying to communicate well, especially
when engaging an audience in what it finds to be unfamiliar territory.
There are three sections in the back which I found particularly useful:
a chart for Fiber Calculations, Child-Friendly Recipes for Constipation,
and Commonly Used Medical Words. Kudos to his illustrator, Denise McClure,
for her contribution of clear visuals. This is helpful for children as
well as their parents. I appreciated deeply the author’s discussion
of the personal and familial awareness required for children to succeed
in having good potty habits. The plan he presents is sound and I’m
implementing it with two of my own children.
Dr. Smith does an excellent job of being calm on a subject rife with
potential for emotional trauma – which I’m sure he sees plenty
of in his practice. Having dealt with pediatric urology issues in some
of my own children, I commend him for his handling the gamut of topics
with the sensitivity and understanding one would hope for in such a physician
(and dad), but which is too rarely found.
I would like very much to see Dr. Smith run this book by a publishing
house or a friend in an English department and then republish. The information
is solid but it suffers from being muddied by someone who knows their
own subject so well that he can skip over things which an experienced
third party would be able to quickly fill in, much to the relief of his
audience. For those who need this help, it would make the book worth ordering
by the case.