Here’s proof that knowledge of the subject is not necessary for editing: me editing a book on parenting. Today, It’s Not Rocket Science, It’s Parenthood comes out in print on Amazon. (Obviously, this is not a review, as you can’t review a book you worked on.)
If memory serves, I first contacted Shannon via a Craigslist ad for an editor. I guess she liked what I had to say, which is saying something because I was fairly critical of her sample material. However, I found her a coachable writer willing to accept guidance supported by evidence and ability to explain. When an author pitches herself as a no-bullshit kind of gal, that will ring true only if she appreciates a similar approach from her collaborators. Her fundamental frankness and value of same seemed to me her strongest qualities, so I strove to smooth down the jagged edges without causing the metal to lose its sharpness.
Shannon has a wickedly creative approach to raising children. She strikes me as the sort of mother who understood early on that she needed to foster and build up the notion that rebellion, while expected, was ultimately futile and would always cost the child more than was gained. I believe that this basic characterization is at the heart of the book’s value, along with the brassy, immune-to-shame-or-fatigue methods she has come up with. If I had to characterize her parenting style in one sentence, I’d say this: she is immune to all parental peer pressure (and basically fearless), but if she failed to do her devilishly clever best to love and teach her kids, that and only that would cause her shame. Based on the book, I doubt she feels that way often. She cares too much about the role.
As I read it, I wished my own mother had been as forceful and confident. I’d have matured a lot sooner, and more thoroughly. I do not fault my own mom. She was in an abusive marriage and had numerous psychological disorders, and probably did the best she could in a rotten situation. However, I grew to see her as a pathetic, weak figure who did not mean most of what she said, and who therefore did not need to be obeyed very much. I’m quite certain Shannon’s kids see her as the sort of maternal force of nature that will have them describing her in reverent tones when they themselves are grandparents.
I believe that any parent can profit from a look at Shannon’s ideas, whether he or she adopts them or not. And if you have little Satana, or young Lucasifer, a hateful little spawn who is a) winning the power struggle with you, b) making you feel like giving up the kid for adoption, and c) has you deciding to get spayed or neutered so this never happens again, Shannon was there and won the battle. She may well help you do the same.