How-to books can be a bit perplexing. Some of us always find them to be preaching the obvious. Do we really need books about teaching kids to be good people? Isn't that something automatic that every decent parent should be able to accomplish without going to a book store to do so?
If you've ever been behind teenagers in line at the supermarket you know that perhaps not all parents have been bestowing basic manners and civics lessons. So what we think is automatic isn't necessarily so.
Teaching Kids to Be Good People
And so Annie Fox comes along with Teaching Kids To Be Good People: Progressive Parenting for the 21st Century, which attempts to take our world and our children as they are in our present culture and understand where they are coming from, rather than trying to invent a utopian world that doesn't exist.
Key to her lessons in every section of the book is open dialogue and communication between parent and child (you could call this book Teaching Parents to be Good Communicators). Where it really succeeds is getting parents to understand that a thoughtful and considered response to kids and their problems in everyday life is teaching children way more than parents realize about how to deal with the world.
The book is narratively compelling — each section opens with a scenario or story that the rest of the chapter responds to — but it also reads like a textbook and guide full of open-ended questions, quizzes, and assessments for parents to use in their attempts to combat media and peer culture at large and instill in their kids the values, respect, and empathy that parents assumed was there at the beginning.
Parenting in the 21st Century
In some ways Ms. Fox's approach and her chapter discussions feel like the elephant in the room of parenting. Many unfortunate and sometimes criminal acts take place from the hands of America's youth and young adults.
From serial shootings to bullying, to drugs and intentional teen pregnancy, to disdain for reading and critical thinking — we have this problem of youth estranged from their own humanity. Fox tries to explain this and provide paths to solutions. If we aren't being honest with our children about their emotional worlds and their physical worlds, then society around them will be happy to fill the void.
Tools for Communication
Fox challenges parents to be present in a thoughtful and often folksy way. She challenges the readers to open up to their children and to share with them their own pasts and childhoods as a way forward in helping children cope better with their own realities.
Teaching Kids to be Good People is a quick read and one where you can go back to it again and again and pick up different parts from it. There are great and poignant sections, such as the "Conversations that Count" prompts that come up nearly every chapter with suggestions on how to open up channels of dialogue with your children.
Fox moves beyond the polarization of how to raise kids in America and focuses instead on the real universal aspects of parenting in the world now. For that, it's certainly worth looking into and reading.
Heads up, Readers! From today through Sunday (December 28 - 30), you can download "Teaching Kids to Be Good People" FREE on your Kindle!
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book for purposes of review. The opinions in this review are my honest opinion of the book's content and potential benefit for parents.