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Catholic Review of: You're a Better Parent Than You Think

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Author:  Dr. Ray Guarendi

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This item received 5 stars overall. (09/16/2009)

Orthodoxy: Completely orthodox.
Reading Level: Intermediate

 Tiber RiverBy Tiber River (CO) - See all my reviews


A Refreshing Look at Parenthood and Family Life

Evaluator Comments

In A Nutshell

It is more difficult to raise children today than it was just a few generations ago. The spirit of revolution that swept this country in the sixties and seventies has splintered our culture and left us with confused notions of authority. As a result, today's parents shoulder the responsibilities of forming the young with little help from larger society; indeed, they must often be at odds with modern culture. In addition, popular psychology has caused parents to become anxious by introducing them to a whole host of theoretical disorders that their children will most likely never experience. Alone, unsure of their authority, and in the face of dire predictions voiced by professionals, today?s parents too easily abandon their common sense for the opinions of others. With great humor and a surprising lack of psychobabble, Raymond Guarendi's You're a Better Parent Than You Think presents the good-sense, timeless principles that help you become a more confident, relaxed parent and leave you better able to enjoy your children. If children were ever to come with a manual, this would be it!  

Chapter 1 opens this book with a consideration of parental confidence. Guarendi supplies examples and analysis of the problems surrounding too much advice and encourages reliance on one's own good judgment. The chapter closes with suggested "homework" that will help you realize how much advice you are receiving and how confusing it can all be. 

Chapter 2 debunks five commonly accepted parenting "myths" such as "There is one right way to handle every situation" and "You must know the reasons behind a behavior to change it." The chapter closes with six "homework" assignments that will help you to see for yourself that these myths are untrue.

Chapter 3 covers some myths as well as some fundamental truths about personality. Guarendi questions popular beliefs, such as the belief that personality is fully developed in childhood. He further reiterates important truths about personality. For example, not all children are the same when they enter the world, but each is unique. This chapter ends with five "homework" assignments.

Chapter 4 concerns the ambiguous term "normal." Guarendi considers the term itself and any meaning it might have. He further discusses abnormal behaviors and some behaviors that appear abnormal, but nevertheless are still "normal." In this chapter Guarendi warns the reader of the media push toward seeking abnormalities in child behavior and the senselessness of labeling behaviors rather than treating them. This chapter ends with five "homework" assignments.

Chapter 5, "How to Talk Yourself Out of Authority," considers the most common reasons parents fail to discipline and discipline consistently. Guarendi opens this chapter with a consideration of authority and what it means for a parent to have authority over her children. He encourages parents to see that proportionate and consistent discipline is healthy for kids and healthy for parents, too! He considers parental concerns that there is sometimes too much discipline needed to control behaviors, that discipline makes parents feel mean, that children aren't responsible for behaviors, or that children do not respond to discipline.

Chapter 6, "Surrendering Authority: A Parent's Handbook," helps parents to realize the fruitlessness of behaviors such as nagging, repeating, bargaining, and counting to three. Guarendi then offers helpful solutions to the problems that parents most often are trying to solve with these methods. This chapter helps parents to see what is and what is not discipline.

Chapter 7 considers discipline from the child's point of view. Guarendi looks at some common reactions to discipline such as escalation, self-assault, manipulation, and verbal abuse. He assists parents in handling these behaviors with further discipline and provides some amazing real-life examples of behaviors that are sure to quell most any parent's anxieties over her own child's behaviors.

Chapter 8, "Six Tested Ways to Drive Yourself Batty," covers some common nerve-frazzling practices that parents are prone to; for example, over-reasoning, quibbling, and motive seeking. Guarendi offers advice about avoiding these and other energy-sapping practices that parents easily fall into.

Chapter 9 discusses many of the reasons why it is more difficult to parent today. Guarendi's insights and observations are reassuring. This chapter enables parents to realize that their children are not simply the products of their parenting, but that there are many other factors in a child's life that influence behaviors as well.

Chapter 10 offers seven principles of composed parenting. These include such things as confidence, keeping authority, and acting rather than speaking.

Chapter 11, "How the Story Ended," supplies the end result of many of the stories and real-life examples used to illustrate points throughout the book.

You're a Better Parent Than You Think is a thoroughly enjoyable read. Dr. Guarendi is clear, down-to-earth, and witty. His real-life examples are encouraging to parents who struggle with similar problems, and his "homework" assignments are helpful ways to discern problem areas; much more helpful than the worksheet and quiz formats found in other parenting books. The lack of psychobabble is this book is also remarkable, and along with it comes a lack of arrogance and condescension.

Neither does Guarendi endorse any one parenting style; rather he encourages readers to make their own unhindered decisions about what is best for them and for their families. His principles are universal and equally applicable to persons of all faiths and all parenting ideologies.

Evaluator Comments

This book is a refreshing look at parenthood and family life. I have a feeling that this "common-sense guide" would have been laughed at a few generations ago much as we would laugh, today, at a 236-page book on blowing your nose. This really is common sense! I highly, highly recommend this wonderful book! 

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