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"Intimate" Violence against Women3 NBS of Julian DrewA Little PregnantA Natural History of RapeA Parent's Guide to Asperger Syndrome and High-Functioning AutismA Stir of BonesAbout a BoyAdult Children of Emotionally Immature ParentsAgainst MarriageAgainst MarriageAlmost a PsychopathAlone TogetherAnatomy of LoveAngelsAnother CountryAnxious ParentsApples and OrangesBe Honest--You're Not That Into Him EitherBeing the Other OneBetrayed as BoysBeyond AddictionBipolar DisorderBoys Will Put You on a Pedestal (So They Can Look Up Your Skirt)Breaking ApartBrief Adolescent Therapy Homework PlannerBringing Up ParentsBut I Love HimCaring for a Child with AutismCaring in Remembered WaysCherishmentChildren of the Aging Self-AbsorbedChildren of the Self-AbsorbedChildren, Families, and Health Care Decision MakingClawsCloserCold HitCoping With Difficult PeopleCouple SkillsCruddyDancing in My NuddypantsDivorce PoisonDoing ItDone With The CryingEcstasyEmotional ClaustrophobiaEmotional Fitness for IntimacyEmotional Intelligence at WorkEntwined LivesErotic PassionsEssentials of Premarital CounselingEvery Pot Has a CoverFacts About ADHD ChildrenFamilies Like MineFamilyFamily BoundFamily FirstFear of IntimacyFinal JeopardyFind MeFlashpointFor Lesbian ParentsForgive Your Parents, Heal YourselfGandhi's WayGeorgia Under WaterGetting over Getting MadGetting the Love You WantGetting the Love You Want Audio CompanionGirl in the MirrorGirl StuffGoing Home without Going CrazyHandbook of AttachmentHandbook of Counseling and Psychotherapy with Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual ClientsHappiness Sold SeparatelyHard to GetHe's Just Not That Into YouHealing ConversationsHollow KidsHot ButtonsHot Chocolate for the Mystical LoverHow Families Still MatterHow to Create Chemistry with AnyoneHow to Give Her Absolute PleasureHow to Handle a Hard-To-Handle KidHow to Keep Your Teenager Out of Trouble and What to Do If You Can'tI am Not Sick I Don't Need Help!I Don't Know How She Does ItI Hate You-Don't Leave MeI Only Say This Because I Love YouI'm OK, You're My ParentsIn the Mood, AgainInside the American CoupleIntrusive ParentingIt's Called a Breakup Because It's BrokenIt's Love We Don't UnderstandJakarta MissingKeeping Passion AliveKeeping Your Child in MindLet's Get This StraightLiberation's ChildrenLife's WorkLikely to DieLove JunkieLove SickLove Times ThreeLove Works Like ThisLoving Someone With Bipolar DisorderLoving Someone with Borderline Personality DisorderLust in TranslationMaking the RunMaking the RunManic DepressionMars and Venus - Starting Over.Mating in CaptivityMom, Dad, I'm Gay.MotherstylesMurder in the InnMysterious CreaturesNecessary NoiseOdd Girl OutOpenOpening to Love 365 Days a YearOphelia's MomOrgasmsOur Journey Through High Functioning Autism and Asperger SyndromeOut of the DustOvercoming Your Difficult FamilyParenting and the Child's WorldParenting on the GoParenting Your Out-Of-Control TeenagerParents and Digital TechnologyParents Do Make a DifferencePassionate MarriagePlanet JanetPreventing Misbehavior in ChildrenProblem Child or Quirky Kid?Raising AmericaRaising ElijahRaising Kids in an Age of TerrorRaising Kids in the 21st CenturyRaising Resilient ChildrenRay's a LaughRelationship RescueRelax, It's Just SexRespect-Me RulesRomantic IntelligenceRoom For JSecrets of a Passionate MarriageSelf-NurtureSelfish, Shallow, and Self-AbsorbedSex Addiction: The Partner's PerspectiveShidduch CrisisSickenedSingleSlut!Socrates in LoveSomeone Like YouSong for EloiseSpecial SiblingsSpiritually Healing the Indigo Children (and Adult Indigos, Too!)Staying Connected to Your TeenagerStaying Sane When Your Family Comes to VisitStop Arguing with Your KidsStop SignsStop Walking on EggshellsStop Walking on EggshellsStrong, Smart, & BoldSummer of the SkunksSurviving a Borderline ParentTaking Charge of AngerTelling SecretsThank You for Being Such a PainThe Anti-Romantic ChildThe AwakeningThe Bastard on the Couch CDThe Birth of PleasureThe Brief Couples Therapy Homework Planner with DiskThe Bully Action GuideThe Burden of SympathyThe Commercialization of Intimate LifeThe CorrectionsThe Couples Psychotherapy Treatment PlannerThe DisappearanceThe Dream BearerThe Educated ParentThe Emotional RevolutionThe Employee Assistance Treatment PlannerThe EpidemicThe Ethics of ParenthoodThe Ethics of the FamilyThe Gay Baby BoomThe Good DivorceThe Guide for International Intercultural Couples and Families Intercultural MarriageThe Healing Journey for CouplesThe Hostile HospitalThe Husbands and Wives ClubThe Inside Story on Teen GirlsThe Introvert AdvantageThe Little FriendThe Love HexagonThe Moral Intelligence of ChildrenThe Neuroscience of Human RelationshipsThe New I DoThe Normal OneThe Nurture AssumptionThe OASIS Guide to Asperger SyndromeThe Other ParentThe Philosophical ParentThe Psychology of Parental ControlThe Real Rules for GirlsThe Reflective ParentThe Right to Be ParentsThe Secret Lives of WivesThe Spider and the BeeThe State of AffairsThe StepsThe Story of My FatherThe Velveteen FatherThe Virgin BlueThe Visitation HandbookThe Whole ChildTo Have and To Hurt:Two Is EnoughUnderstanding MarriageUnderstanding the Borderline MotherUnhitchedUntrue Up in FlamesWe've Got IssuesWhat about the KidsWhat Goes UpWhat Is Secular Humanism?What It Means to Love YouWhat Our Children Teach UsWhen a Parent is DepressedWhen Mars Women DateWhen Someone You Love Is BipolarWhen Someone You Love Is DepressedWhy Are You So Sad?Will You, Won't You?WomanWorking With Emotional IntelligenceWorried All the TimeYes, Your Teen Is Crazy!
It would make sense for parenting practice to be a form of applied psychology, in the way that the space shuttle embodies physics, and Viagra applied biochemistry. Neither NASAs basic science nor the treatment of Bob Doles embarrassment rests in common sense. To the contrary, the peoples physics (and Aristotles) would have rockets plummeting at the departure of their boosters, and granddads sexology would exhort the elderly politician to accept gracefully the burdens of old age. We have come a long way precisely through the rejection of common sense, and its statistics of anecdote, in favor of the application of science-based technologies. Not so however with the child raising advice industry and this books is no exception.
The disconnect between scientific psychology and the child rearing advisers has never presented the latter with a barrier. But it was Borbas misfortune to publish an up-beat "how to" parenting book only months after the much-heralded The Nurture Assumption: Why Children Turn Out the Way They Do by Judith Rich Harris (reviewed in Metapsychology March 1999). Harris provides a literature review of, and sustained attack upon, the idea that the specifics of parenting practice (within non-pathological ranges) have significant effect upon the variations among adult lives. Surprisingly it was a popular and commercial success. Appearing also in 1998 was Jerome Kagans Three Seductive Ideas, (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University, 1998) with its dissection and critique of "The Allure of Infant Determinism", the idea that the experiences of the early years endure into adulthood. The vast and diverse literature reported by Harris and Kagan undercuts the causal foundations of Borbas program of parenting advice forcing her, as well as Canfield in the forward, to dismiss a group of very good scientists as one would a gaggle of cranks. "The nature-not-nurture position is patently silly", "parents know for sure that they have a big impact", to understand this one needs only, "a lick of common sense", states Canfield, adding, "How do you raise kids with solid characters, strong minds, and caring hearts?
your question has finally been answered." Borbas preface italicizes, "
we can not only make a difference but also can have an enduring impact on their lives, now and forever." She continues, "When I think back on my own childhood
", "No one can deny
", "Common sense tells us
". The dragon put to rest, let the advice begin. Want your children to, "
become their best
This book will show you how".
The dismissals by Canfield and Borba are irresponsible. Canfields shot at a "nature-not-nurture position" describes exactly no ones viewpoint. The issues of the causation of adult character, personality traits, and life choices are complex far beyond any "nature-nurture divide". Some traits, such as tallness, are clearly genetic. Others such as dissociative disorders (multiple personalities) following an abused childhood are environmental. Most effects are difficult to classify, being directly environmental and indirectly genetic. Teen self-esteem is positively affected by peer approval (environmental), but that approval in boys is positively affected by tallness (genetic). The various types of genetic-to-environment-to-child effects have been subtly investigated by the thinkers that Harris and Kagan discuss, as have the importance of peer and other wider cultural effects.
In the area of specifically parental effects upon children it is useful to distinguish between direct effects of parent-to-child behaviors and the indirect effects of the parentally chosen peer and wider environments that affect the child. Finally, any discussion of good parenting should distinguish the parenting effects upon the child-when-a-child and upon the child-when-an-adult. The science that addresses these questions is good science, and the conclusion seems to be that the effects upon the child-when-an-adult of direct parent-to-child styles and behaviors, within the range of the non-pathological, are very small. This being the case, what this book promises a program of parent behaviors to mold a great adult out of the child who is your child - cannot be realized.
Having said this, I believe that children would be better off if the advice in this book were taken to heart by parents, teachers, counselors, coaches, and others who deal with children. The advice is sensible, concrete, and sometimes creative. For example, Four Keys to Unlocking Childrens Strengths" is followed by "Choose three positive qualities to strengthen", "Find opportunities to praise the strength frequently", "Praise the strength only when deserved", and "Describe specific examples of the strength", which are followed by examples of "How to Describe Strengths" (42). The chapter on teaching the child to make and keep friends contains a checklist of "warning signs of friendship problems" (121). The chapter on encouraging perseverance contains, "Five Ideas to Help Kids Recognize the Value of Effort" (172-73). These are useful things for a parent to think about, and his or her child would benefit from it. Within the genre of child raising advice, this is a very good book.
The resolution of the apparent conflict between the books failure to achieve its goals and its usefulness lies in what we as parents should be trying to achieve. Child-when-an-adult characteristics "outcome goals"- get the greatest amount of print, but are the least possible. On the other hand, the parent should also seek to form an intimate relationship with the person who his child is at the developmental stage that the child is in. This "relationship goal" of parenting could be enhanced by the advice in the book. In addition, the parent should create environments in which the child can realize the potentials that exist at that childs stage of growth. These "stage goals" allowing children to be children - are as important as outcome goals, and there are useful suggestions in the book that would help to achieve them. Finally, the parent has a limited right to take personal fulfillment from her role as parent. The satisfaction of this "self-fulfillment goal" becomes more likely if some of the strategies presented in this book are followed.
In our thinking about child raising we are inclined to discount the value of childhood relative to adulthood, and assume that the normal experiences of childhood have great effect upon the variation that the child-when-an-adult embodies. These inclinations distort our views of parenting including what authors claim for a book such as Borbas. The scientific research acts as a corrective to these common sense errors.