Thursday, March 3, 2011

Book Review: Between Parent and Child

I recently read Dr. Haim G. Ginott's Between Parent and Child. This book left me with lots to think about and talk about. It's sold over 5 million copies, so I'm hoping some of my readers out there have read it and we can have a little review/discussion here. ****Do read this post, it gets juicy here****

This book came highly recommended from an LDS counselor. I went into the reading with very high expectations. In many instances, I was surprised and disappointed by the book. I know, I know, he's sold 5 million copies, he must know what he's talking about, but I'll share my opinions on what I disliked here.

Advice I didn't agree with:
1. The belief that praise needs to be given with utmost caution. He says never say something like: "You are so beautiful." or "We are so proud of you." Because these statements may conflict with what the child thinks of themselves, so then they will distrust you. Instead say things like, "That hairdo must have taken a lot of patience to master," or "The way you dealt with that situation was very patient."
*I praise, praise, praise. I'm sure there are reasons I shouldn't do this, but when my kids do something I'm proud of, I don't think it does irreversible damage to tell them that. I also agree with Dr. James Dobson who says that fathers should tell their daughters ALL THE TIME how beautiful they are.

2. Instead of every "losing it" as a parent. Tell your child how you feel. "I feel angry." This will usually deflate their action.
*When I tell my children "I feel angry," they could care less. This does not deflate their actions at all. (I'm not advocating losing it by any means, just saying I don't feel this technique is realistic.)

3. The idea that "less is more" when we speak to our children. He says don't ask them questions. Instead just restate how they feel.
Kid: "The teacher hates me."
Mom: "You feel like your teacher hates you."
Kid: "She is so mean."
Mom: "It must be hard to be a student to a teacher who makes you feel bad."
*I understand sympathizing with their feelings. But if my child thinks their teacher hates them, I could not refrain from asking them why. Maybe it's the journalist in me, but I am constantly asking my children questions.

4. The theory that after first grade parents should have nothing to do with homework.
*Really? First grade. Every night I tell my daughter when its homework time and this hasn't caused any harm. If she wants me to, I sit with her to work on it. I actually like this bonding time.

5. The idea that responsibility comes from within, not from chores, animal care or musical lessons.
*I believe chores have helped my family.

6. Adolescents should be allowed to wear whatever they want, even if it differs from parental standards. He says, you should ask your child, "Do you want to be seen as sexually available to all who see you?" And leave it at that.
*I feel many teenagers, are internally hoping for a parent to stop them from walking out the door being seen as "sexually available."

7. Parents should allow their children freedom from parental views on sexual morality. Here is an conversation he praised. Charles was home from boarding school:
Charles: I have the greatest girlfriend.
Dad: Hm.
Charles: I really like her. I'm going to see her tomorrow.
Dad: You have a date.
Charles: I met her last week in school. I went to bed with her before I actually liked her but now I know her and like her a lot.
Dad: (stunned by the outpouring of more information than he cared to hear): Oh Charles, you met a girl you really like. How exciting!
Charles: I can hardly wait to see her again.
Dad: It sounds like your last week in school was a really happy one. I bet you've had many new experiences this year.
*Wow, this is how we are supposed to talk to our kids about sex? To me, this is called SWEEPING IT UNDER THE RUG. While my mom is about the BEST MOTHER in the world, she suffered from "sweeping it under the rug syndrome" when I was younger. And as a teenager, I know I wanted her to talk to me about important issues (not necessarily sex, but everything). I wanted her to ask questions. This Dad avoided serious issues they need to discuss in my opinion. And as a parent, of course, I am going to teach my children about my personal beliefs and values on something so important as premarital sex!


SO, there are the things I disliked. Here are the things I liked:

1. A new language to talk to kids. The main point of this book is using sympathetic language to build a better relationship with our children. When they cry and say "Everything went wrong today," The parent would respond with "Oh man. It seems like nothing went as you wanted it today." or something like that instead of, "Well, what did YOU do to fix the crappy day."
*I've been trying this tactic all week and I must say it has helped.

2. Giving children a choice. "Would you like pb and honey today or grilled cheese." This makes a child feel more involved in their own lives and less like you are controlling them.
*My only problem here is when I give this choice, my kids would 9 times out of 10 say, "I want chicken nuggets" or something I didn't offer. :)

3. Grant in fantasy what you can't grant in reality. He says when a child begs for a toy say, "Oh I wish I could get you that truck this time," instead of "No! Stop begging!"
*It's a little bit less harsh of a let-down.

4. This statement: "Parents set the tone of the home. Their response to every problem determines whether it will be escalated or de-escalated..."
*I do agree with this. It's hard for me to swallow because that means in many of our household blowups, there was something I could and should have done differently. This also makes me want to try harder to use a language that "de-escalates" our problems.


Overall, this book was worth reading. I am working on the new "feeling accepting" language and hopefully it will help in our home. However, many of the points were at odds with my beliefs, and most of the example conversations were far too simplistic.

I think with self-help books its important to take what works for you and not worry about the rest. That's what I plan to do with this one.

WHAT DID YOU GET FROM BETWEEN PARENT AND CHILD OR OTHER SELF-HELP PARENTING BOOKS?

6 comments:

Proctor Funk said...

Haven't read the book. Sounds interesting....I think I dislike all the things about it you do! I praise my kids when they do something wonderful or they look nice, I mean seriously, they get enough negative from everywhere else, why shouldn't a parent be the positive and praising influence? I'm going to have to check it out, I'm always looking to improve my parenting! :)

The Pingel Family said...

After Ellie was born, my mom brought me a big bar of chocolate (of course) and a great book called "A Mother's Book of Secrets". It's written by a member so you don't have to worry about figuring out what does/doesn't conflict with your standards. I really liked it because it gave some practical advice on dealing with common issues, and it made the point that it's okay for mom to take some time for herself, to refresh herself, and come back ready to be an even better mom.

~T~ said...

I grew up with two sisters. I gave birth to four boys. It's like living in a foreign country sometimes. "The Wonder of Boys" has been helpful in explaining some of the weird things they do. And it has some good tips for communication. But, like any other person's opinion, I don't agree with all of it. You have to pick and choose from the advice given, and listen to the Spirit.

We also consider "Calvin and Hobbes" collections to be good parenting manuals! "At least our boys have never..."

Tana Adams said...

Wow, I'm shocked at the sweeping it under the rug attitude! I'm a stickler when it comes to my moral standards so I'd take a different approach, but I like the first part where you targeted your praise towards an understanding of how difficult it was for the child to achieve something. Great review!

NJ said...

Thanks so much for such a detailed review. I also pretty much dislike what you dislike.

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