Saturday, January 28, 2006

Book review of "It Takes a Parent" by Betsy Hart

I've just posted to my review of It Takes a Parent: How the Culture of Pushover Parenting Is Hurting Our Kids--and What to Do AboutIt by Betsy Hart.

Here is the review:


Many of the ills in our society can be trace to problems in the home. A scary fraction of high school graduates are functionally illiterate. If more parents were involved in the education of their children this number would drop. Many of the teenagers involved with gangs, drugs, and sex come from families where the parent didn't parent. Recently I've seen articles about how some parents are basically outsourcing "parenthood" and having others raise their children.

Betsy Hart's book "It Take a Parent" is a wake up call to parents. She wants them to be more involved, to take ownership for the responsibility of being a parent, and to be a parent. As older, more mature, and hopefully wiser adults, parents need to decide to be in charge of the family. Otherwise, as Betsy says, the children will be in charge.

Betsy says that many of the experts in the parenting culture tell parents to be more passive, to let children do what they want, and try to be their children's best friend. Betsy says parents need to be parents. If a child is angry at his parent, oh well, parents need to be focused on the long term. She sees parenting as a rescue mission for the heart of the child. Children are not naturally born with self discipline, wisdom, and charity. Parents need to model these, and to direct children in appropriate ways, giving consequences when children make bad choices.

Betsy makes many good points in this book. For example she makes a distinction between personality and character. Personality is largely what comes with the child. A child may be thoughtful, outgoing, energetic, and so on. Parents should not try to change a child's personality. Parents should be working to help develop a child's character. They should teach the child to be honest, hard working, and caring.

Another point Betsy makes, several times, is children need to learn they are not the center of the world. Children should learn to work with others, and not to always demand that they get their way. A child who learned to expect the world to revolve around him will be an unhappy adult when he finds the rest of the world pretty much ignores his wishes and desires.

Betsy has a full chapter on "When did 'No' become a dirty word?" Many parenting experts say children need to be happy and content, always. Betsy says it is more important for children to learn to follow rules. It is hard to start enforcing rules when children get older if they never followed rules when they were young.

Many books are the kind where it is worth reading once. (Some books aren't even worth reading once.) "It Takes a Parent" is a book I plan to read again in another six months. There is a lot of useful information and ideas in here on how to be a better parent. If you want to be a better parent give this book a try.


Mother Crone's Homeschool said...

This book sounds wonderful...I should purchase a case and hand them out to those who really "need" to read these truths! Funny, I have a similar signature statement when the children are full of themselves,"You are not the center of the universe!". How simple life would be if more chidren really understood this!

Henry Cate said...

"You are not the center of the universe!"

Part of what Betsy Hart is saying is that a few parents need to learn their children are not the center of the universe.