Po Bronson is the author of five books, most recently Why Do I Love These People? His prior book, What Should I Do With My Life? , was a #1 New York Times bestseller. His books are available in 20 languages. He has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and NPR’s Morning Edition. He has an MFA from San Francisco State University and a BA from Stanford University. He co-founded the San Francisco Writer’s Grotto, a writers’ collective, with Ethan Canin and Ethan Watters in 1994. He is on the board of directors of Consortium, a national distributor of over 70 fine independent presses.
He lives in San Francisco. Ashley Merryman is a writer and attorney living in Los Angeles. She previously served in the Clinton Administration in various positions, including as a speechwriter / researcher to then Vice-President Al Gore. Her play, Metanoia, has had staged readings in Los Angeles and Chicago, while her editorials appear in the National Catholic Reporter and other publications. She has a JD from Georgetown, a BFA from the University of Southern California, and a Certificate in Irish Studies, from Queen’s University, Belfast, Northern Ireland.
The book’s main argument is that forcing you to reevaluate your thinking about parenting. It reveals new research that not only challenges modern-day parenting practices but also questions old practices as well. It is aiming to make you think about modern parenting styles at least twice. It isn’t following the latest parenting trends; it is analyzing and deconstructing them. It isn’t proposing the “new, correct and only” way to parent; it gives you the research and helps you navigate the mixed messages. The book investigates common misconceptions seen in modern parenting practices, and in children’s education more generally.
I’ll try to summarize book’s arguments which are served in ten chapters. In chapter one, they are focusing on the inverse power of praise. The argument of this chapter is that false praise is damaging and has the opposite effect on self-esteem. When you praise your child for things that are out of their control, “You are smart! ” it makes them not want to try new and difficult things because they might fail and therefore not be smart. “When we praise children for their intelligence… we tell them that this is the name of the game: look smart, don’t risk making mistakes.
In chapter two, they are telling about lost hour of today’s kids. Children, especially teens, getting less and less sleep and the impact that it has on them. There was statistics themselves are certainly shocking– “a loss of an hour of sleep is equivalent to [the loss of] two years of cognitive maturation and development. ” How many of us have had a child acting up and knew it was because they were overtired. There is science to back that up now. In chapter three, book is focusing on the why white parents don’t talk about the race. It seems like it would be racist to talk about race?
Parents of this age don’t know what to say? The book clarifies this issue like; “Saying something about it unavoidably teaches a child a racial construct. They worry that even a positive statement… will still encourage the child to see divisions within the society. ” Chapter four is about why kids lie. They lie because they don’t want to disappoint their parents and they are afraid of getting into trouble. So how do you stop your kids from lying? Well the authors answer that the only way is to tell your children that it will make you happy if they tell you the truth, to teach them the value of honesty.
In chapter five, they talk about the search for intelligent life in kindergarten and chapter six is about sibling effect. The chapter seven focuses on the science of teen rebellion. The authors offer up evidence that arguing with teenagers isn’t destructive, that teenagers view arguing as a way to feel closer and more connected to their parents. This chapter also dealt with the neuroscience behind risky teen behavior. Chapter eight is giving idea about the issue of self-control can be taught or not? This chapter ties in with the previous chapter about teenagers and risky behavior.
The authors start with statistics on driving and the efficacy of driver’s education. Chapter nine, mentions on playing well with others. This chapter examined why children aren’t kinder and gentler than they were a generation ago. The tamer television shows resulted in kids “learning the advanced skills of clique formation, friendship withdrawal, and the art of the insult. ” Closing chapter of ten named as a “Why Hannah Talks and Alyssa doesn’t”, claims that “new skills are emerging in every period, and vocabulary development has to continually expand.
Organization of book is not complicated. Actually, I really like the style of it. It reminds me a one of my favorite writers, Malcom Gladwell’s novels. Similar to Gladwell, Bronson and Merryman follow the same strategy which includes interesting researches to support their asse rtions. It is composed of chapters and each chapter of the book is so different from each other. In other words, it was like reading ten issues which include new articles. Book has clear language and easy to follow. You are not drowning in fancy, scientific psychological terms and I think it’s really crucial point.
Its language doesn’t disturb your attention and you don’t need to google every word that you read. In short, everyone can understand what book is trying to tell and claim. At the same time, examples and case studies make each topic more vivid and understandable. Firstly, authors emphasize on case studies that makes topics far more concrete. However, some issues might interest you, some not at all. Due to the fact that book has a wide age range, it’s not only talking about babies or preschoolers but also touching teen issues.
Besides, the book is broken into ten chapters that address wildly different parenting topics serves you an option to read each chapter separately. As I read the book I was thinking that there would probably be people who would pick and choose which chapters they read based on how relevant the information was to their lives. You are free to focus on more intensely the chapter you find closest to you. Consuming less time on some chapters won’t be break integrity of book and it is an advantage as a reader according to my view point. I’ll specifically be touching on parts from three chapters.
Everything I mention will be merely introductory and related with me. First chapter which is about inverse power of praise is the most meaningful part of the book for me. Due to the fact that, I spent my whole childhood as a label of a “smartest kid. ” After I read the book, I recognize that being a smart kid in family, gave me lots of burden and withdrawals indeed. To be honest, I still sometimes feel anxious about being failed on some tasks and I elegantly avoid them. Avoidance of risks makes me put in safe zones and protects my self-esteem.
From time to time I feel the same thing in my personal relationships. I feel like I have no right to make mistake. Even though, I know that where magic happens is out of people’s comfort zones. I also, strongly agree with the chapter about the lost hour. I think, this chapter is pure illustration of this neo-liberal age. In other words, parents are highly worried about full-filling of their kids’ schedules. I’m working with children whose age around seven and eight and they have almost heavier daily schedule than mine.
Parents are preparing their children in a competitive world and they also make this world more competitive day by day. However, they do not really aware of sleeping one less hour how may results in more serious and cognitive issues about child development. Lastly, I really appreciate the chapter about race issues. This chapter investigates the popular wisdom that merely being around people different from themselves, will encourage and teach children to realize that those differences are arbitrary or unimportant. However, children have a very natural tendency to see difference, and to align themselves with similarity.
The important point then is that simply integrating children with difference, is not enough to teach them the irrelevance of those differences; you need to specifically and consciously teach the fact that such differences are irrelevant, for instance, that the cultural background of someone’s doesn’t matter. In Turkey, being minority is really difficult although this region is composed of several different backgrounds. Still, we cannot talk about minority issues and if we want to overcome it, we should start to be able to talk about it at the earlier ages.
Finally, I can freely say that this book is touched me a lot due to the fact that authors show courage about to criticize most accepted subjects of the age that we’re in. They serving fresh ideas and also support that ideas with scientific evidences. However, sometimes you can feel like lectured instead of learning new things and it’s the only weaknesses of the book, I guess. Moreover, I think that it’s well deserved to buy and read. I strongly recommend this book especially to parents in Turkey who try to follow American parenting system without questioning.