Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Book Review, Raising Resilient Children

Raising resilient children sure sounds great. In fact the preface to this book defines the resilient mindset as the ability to cope with and overcome adversity. This of course should be an essential component in all children. However this book simply echoe'd to me the theme of the 80's and the "self esteem" movement.

When I think of children who need to be resilient, I think of children growing up without food and water, with abuse or in Europe during WWII. These would be extreme examples of course but this is my starting off point. Here in America, we have food, running water and medical care. However many kids are abused, neglected, struggling through their parents divorce or simply struggling with growing up. While reading this book it was clear that the author's "large volume of research" consisted of their own clinical and private practice. They were not talking about children in Juvenile Hall but everyday children dealing with everyday social, school and family issues.

At first glance this book might sound great. I want my child to be resilient and to be able to overcome adversity. But with further reading, it does not address how to truly raise a child who can overcome "adversity". It sounded to me like how to raise a child who will expect a softened world and everything will be catered to him. A kind of how to avoid adversity in a sense. I got the sense of hand holding being promoted here.

Let's go back to the 80's mantra of beefing up every child's 'self esteem'. This backfired and contributed to a generation of children who couldn't do anything on their own, cope and have been labelled "entitled". Key points in Raising Resilient Children include: Being empathetic, Communicating effectively, listening actively, accepting your children, help them experience success, and disciplining to promote self worth.

I'm going to be bold enough to say while these sound great, they are impractical. How are these points going to help my child deal with job loss as an adult or even job evaluation? How are these points going to help my children deal with difficult people if they have always been raised with a soft hand and too much encouragement ? My husband and I are raising our 5 children to serve others, giving up their own wants for the happiness of others. We train them to obey us first and understand later. Which of these will help them get and hold down a job or serve their spouses in marriage? Does giving up your wants and learning to serve others help you to be resilient? I believe so. Being unselfish and not expecting every option in life to be a choice will certainly teach a child how to deal with adversity more than always expecting positive feel good outcomes.

The authors are anti-spanking, anti time out and pro logical consequences. This makes me conclude the advice in this book is directed to parents of school age children up through high school. Of course you can't spank older children yet you can't use logical consequences for toddlers. It is confusing to follow the advice these two psychiatrists put forth. I found myself wondering if these two men have children of their own and just how 'resilient' they turned out to be.

So to my readers, I would suggest reading a parenting book a little saltier than this one. Perhaps something by John Rosemond. he is one of my favorites!

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