Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Raising Human Beings: Creating a Collaborative Partnership with Your Child

by Ross W. Greene, PhD
 Scribner     2016
281 pages     Nonfiction
The Shortlist

At a family picnic the other day, my granddaughter (age 5) was having a hard time focusing on eating her dinner. There was a lot of food on her plate, and she had touched none of it. My daughter said to her, "I think that you have two options here: one option is to just sit here staring at your plate until the picnic is over. The other option is to come up with a solution with me about how much you need to eat and then eat that amount so that you can go and play." My granddaughter decided that the second option was the best. She said that she was worried that there was too much food on her plate. She and her mother figured out the amount she needed to eat; she ate quickly; and then got up to go play with her cousins. One of her aunts watched the entire exchange and remarked, "Gee, I wish I had known that strategy 10 years ago when I needed it."

In his excellent book, Raising Human Beings, Dr. Ross Greene has created a plan to encourage collaborative partnerships between parents and children that can help to resolve the many scenarios that parents and children have to negotiate on the pathway to adulthood. The goal, of course, is for parents to help their children develop skills to become independent without becoming adversarial. 

To go back to my granddaughter's food situation. Dr. Greene suggests three sets of options, One option is Plan A, the plan in which the parents are in control. "You are going to sit there until you finish that food." Plan B is the plan my daughter chose. It takes into account the child's problem and together they seek to find a solution. Plan B actively uses three steps (empathy, define adult concerns, and invitation) to establish understanding and work in partnership to come up with solutions that address every party’s concerns.

 Dr. Greene also offers Plan C in which the parent defers to the child's skills, beliefs, values, preferences, personality traits and goals. An example of this would be another granddaughter's decision not to play soccer anymore and to try out for the cheerleading squad, instead. Still athletic but more social. Her parents deferred to her decision-making skills, even though her father was disappointed because soccer had been an interest that they shared.

Raising Human Beings has a child rearing plan that goes way beyond the "Because I said so!" form of decision making to a much more collaborative and affirming style of parenting. Ultimately the child becomes a far more confident decision maker—ready and able to become independent. The reviewer in Publisher's Weekly concludes: "This book is a game-changer for parents, teachers, and other caregivers of children. Its advice is reasonable and empathetic, and readers will feel ready to start creating a better relationship with the children in their lives."


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