Friday, September 28, 2012

Teach Your Children Well by Madeline Levine, PhD

Teach Your Children Well: Parenting for Authentic SuccessTeach Your Children Well: Parenting for Authentic Success by Madeline Levine
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I picked this book up at the library after hearing the author speak on an NPR talk show.

As I read the introduction I thought, "Hmm, maybe I should buy this book, it seems like something I'll want to read more than once." But I waited to see how it went before making a commitment to it.

The premise of the book is that there is more to success than high grades and "fat envelopes" which I assume to mean acceptance packages from elite universities. I didn't need any convincing on that, but I wanted to read a book with that perspective, since it seems sometimes that I am surrounded by people will high-achieving children bound for academic (and financial) greatness. Ive been bothered by parents' insistence on rigorous STEM education, for example, for their kids regardless of the child's interest in and aptitude for it.

After the introduction, there is a discussion of the developmental stages in kids' lives: elementary, middle, and high school ages. I skipped the elementary school section since I am out of that. I found the middle school section to be pretty accurate.

But then I got to high school. The author's attitude toward teen sexuality stunned me. As in, sex seems to be nothing more than a pastime to be enjoyed (responsibly, of course) by teens ages 16 and above. There was no mention of love or committed relationships; I think the word the author used was "affection" in describing teen sexual relationships.

I nearly stopped reading the book at that point; I didn't want to go on when I have an area of strong disagreement. But I carried on anyway.

After the age/grade sections, the author goes on to discuss skills and attributes kids need to be given/taught to be successful. These are qualities such as resilience, creativity, work ethic... nothing to argue with there. Each section has a do/don't list for parents to guide them in helping their kids.

Mostly the advice is good though there's nothing I've not read or otherwise come across before. I do have two other disagreements about the book, though. One is the near-absolute absence of God, religion, spirituality in the book. I think "religious practices" gets a nod as something that might be important to some families, and "religion" appears in a list of life priorities for the parents to rank. I get it that this is a secular book, not written from a religious perspective. But it seems odd to leave the religious/spiritual aspect out completely.

And, I was surprised that the book contained no reference to homeschooling at all. Again, I get it that homeschoolers are not the target audience, and that we are a minority in the US. But when talking about school problems, school reforms, etc., it seems odd not to mention (at least) an educational segment that is growing each year.

Three stars is a bit higher than I'd like to rank the book. I'm not going to buy it and I'm not likely to need to read it again. Two stars seemed too low because much of the advice is sound. 2.5 stars would have been more accurate.

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1 comment:

Gillian said...

I think I'll skip this one! ;)