Friday, March 4, 2011

Kids are worth it! part 2 of 2

Kids are worth it! Barbara Coloroso

Yesterday, I covered the area of discipline which Coloroso outlines and which I appreciated.

Some other areas she addresses are:
  • money – teaching kids to manage money
  • teaching children how to manage anger
  • helping children solve problems themselves – when something is wrong, giving them the skills to fix it
  • encouragement, feedback and discipline
  • chores
  • sibling rivalry
  • big problems – dealing with kids in jail, drugs and attempted suicide (at this point, I was surprised she didn’t talk about STDs and pregnancy)
There are some really helpful things in each of these areas – some of which you hope you’ll never have to deal with, and others you certainly will.

As with any book though (especially any parenting book), there will always be things we disagree with. My hesitations are:

1. I was interested to note that I disagreed with most of her principles for younger children – sleep, toilet training, food, etc. The way she espouses was not the way we did it. However, I am happy with how we managed those stages. Which made me wonder if I’ll disagree with the stuff for older children more when my kids are older (but I suspect not).

2. Because it’s a secular book there’s a lack of any overarching philosophy or reasoning. Kids are worth it! Why? No real reason. It ends up rather self-focused – you are worth it, your kids are worth it. For those of us who believe in a creator God, I think we can say that kids are worth it because they, like all of us, are made in the image of God. I have no idea what her faith is (she was a nun, but is now married), but she appeals to any and all faiths and philosophies to make her points, which for me makes it weaker.

3. Throughout the book she has three kinds of families – brick wall, jellyfish and backbone (can you guess from the descriptions which 2 are bad and which one is good!?). I could see her point with this, but again and again these descriptions and the illustrations surrounding them grated with me – they were often so extreme. You could see parts of yourself in some (we would tend towards being a brick-wall – lots of rules - family). I found it alienating at times, rather than helpful. I suspect some readers could just end up offended.

However, I still think this is a book worth reading – it will make you think and even if you disagree with her on some points, it will help you define why.

I think it has value for two main groups:

1. Parents of children and teenagers (rather than babies and toddlers). There are things of value for younger children, and if you agree with her principles you would want to adopt them early on, however most of the issues she deals with are related to older children.

2. Non-Christian parents. Most parenting books I read are grounded in a Christian framework. That’s not to say I agree with them all, but their authors are Christians and unreservedly so. This makes recommending such books to non-Christian friends a little inappropriate at times. This would be a good book to give to non-Christians.

So, thanks to the friend who recommended it!

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