Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Parents We Mean To Be by Richard Weissbourd

Subtitle: How Well-Intentioned Adults Undermine Children's Moral and Emotional Development

It has been a few years since I've read any kind of parenting book. I used to read them a lot. But I think this book is a little more philosophical than practical. Dr. Weissbourd isn't trying to tell you how to be a parent, how to have obedient children, or even happy children. He is attempting to pin point "the role of parents and other adults in cutivating key moral qualities in children and adolescents."

I really liked this book. I agree with the majority of what Dr. Weissbourd is suggesting. I liked that I didn't feel guilty because I am trying to do many of the things he suggests. (Not neccesarrily succeeding....)

Right off I liked his comparison of shame vs. guilt. I liked how he says we should teach our children to be concerned about others' happiness as well as their own. And especially that we should teach our children that being moral doesn't just lead to happiness, it can be difficult and lonely. I liked when he said that parents feel ashamed because they see their childrens' flaws as directly resulting from their parenting flaws. I'm not the only one right?

Here are some direct quotes to give you more of a feel for this book:

"Children need...a stable enough self-image that their self-evaluations are more important than others' evaluations of them at any given moment."

"When it comes to ridding ourselves of painful flaws, and mood improvement, our faith in the plasticity of personality appears to be endless."

I have to paraphrase this one a little, he talks about when students trangress, the "reflex of teachers and other administrators is to simply tighten or create more rules and step up punishments" rather than using these moments as "opportunities to engage students in understanding why the transgression occurred, how it impacted others, and why certain moral standards exist."

I liked his emphasis that sports are not a metaphor for life, and that sports are not a test of whether children have certain qualities. But he does acknowledge that, "It can help children morally to be asked to sacrifice, to endure some pain, for a communal goal."

When he talks about young adults being disillusioned about their ability to positively affect the world he suggests that we should be "routinely providing children with stories that can help them imagine a life built on their convictions."

As a devoutly religious mother, I feel like many of Dr. Weissbourds ideas positively reinforced many ideals and goals my husband and I have with our family. He did, however, give me a lot to think about.

Although there were some parts that seemed only to apply to very affluent families and communities, I liked reading this book. It has a refreshingly different perspective and approach. I highly recommend it!!
I loved what he said about teacher conferences. He shares an experience with one of his son's teachers, and then says how as parents what we really want is for our kids' teachers to really know them and like them. Yes!! Me too.


Bethany said...

I just added this to my "to read" shelf on goodreads, thanks to this review -- I'm definitely intrigued!

Are you on goodreads?

Kammy T said...

I put it on hold at my library and it came quick.

I do think I have a goodreads account, but I don't update it much. I'll put that on my "to do" list!

Betsy said...

This is one I already have in my amazon cart from reading another review a few months back. I'm glad to hear that you liked it. Do you think it's worth buying? Would you refer to it again? I'm anxious to read it.

Kammy T said...

I bet I found it from the same blog! I'm not sure how many times I would read it. It's not really a how-to guide, so I would say borrow it if you could, or make sure you only pay for a paperback!

kim said...

so glad you recommended this one, sounds really interesting. so great seeing you!!