I enjoyed reading Range by David Epstein. It was filled with interesting research and stories, all lending itself to the idea that early and intense specialization is not always a good thing.
This is a must read for parents, coaches, soon to be or recent college grads and anyone in the world of business or sports. Epstein gives a well supported case for breadth of activities and not being afraid of getting a late start. This means no need to force your kid into one sport at age 4 so he/she doesn't fall behind, it means college students don't have to know exactly what they want to do and will actually be of more value to the world if they get a variety of experiences and take detours, and it means generalists can be more innovative in a particular field than those who have specialized solely in said field.
Experiment, take detours, learn from a variety of sources, don't aim for efficiency perfect focus all the time. This is a breath of fresh air from Epstein in an ever more specialized and focused world.
I picked up another parenting book after hearing about it from Ryan Holiday, The Gift of Failure: How the best parents learn to let go so their children can succeed by Jessica Lahey. My oldest son will be entering kindergarten next fall, so I thought this would be a good book to breeze through.
Overall, the message was on point and I appreciated the perspective of Lahey as a teacher and a self proclaimed failure of a parent for over protecting her own kids from failure. Her introduction to the book was my favorite part. She eloquently explained her turning point in parenting and teaching, and explained how we got to where we are today - a world where we have taught our kids to fear failure, and in doing so have blocked the clearest path to their success.
A lot of the book simply had me in agreement, nodding my head at the suggestions because I already try to parent my young kids in a way that gives them as much age-appropriate autonomy as possible. There were also parts of the book I quickly skimmed because it talked about high school years, so I'll re-read as a nice reminder when my kids are a bit older.
If anyone feels they put a lot of time researching, planning and constructing perfectly comfortable lives for their kids, then I'd say this is a must read. There's no parent bashing here, just a clear look at what this loving and well-intentioned type of parenting is doing to our kids, and how we can reframe our approach to raising kids so that they grow up independent, successful, confident and capable.
I’m going to use this post to combine several books under one Category: Parenting. I haven’t read all these books in 2018 but I always go back and re-read sections of them so I thought I’d list them all out as I've been referring to these a lot this year.
Elevating Child Care by Janet Lansbury
I wish Janet could live with me full time and help me parent. She introduced me to the Respectful Parenting Method. If you’re interested in a respectful parenting approach, you have to learn from Janet. I think many people misunderstand and misuse this approach and sometimes it gets a bad rap. Janet’s mentor was the late Magda Gerber, you can also read anything she’s written for an accurate and timeless portrayal of a parenting approach that works. This book pretty much summarizes how to approach parenting from the day a child is born.
No Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline Without Shame by Janet Lansbury
This was actually the first book of Janet’s I read. It’s super helpful in figuring out the difficult toddler years. I got the language and support I needed from this book.
How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk by Faber & Mazlish
This book is full of actionable takeaways to communicate and listen to kids of any age. I really like the approach of the authors, very much in line with the Respectful Approach, but this is not teaching that method. Rather, the authors work to give parents the tools to survive and thrive at home by teaching the best ways to help children deal with their feelings, give praise, find alternatives to punishment, encourage autonomy and more.
Siblings Without Rivalry by Faber & Mazlish
I will read and re-read this so I can ensure I provide the right environment in which my two kids can grow to respect each other and maybe, (hopefully) like each other and be friends. The same authors of the How To Talk Kids book above give some good insight and tools to help children live together under the same roof.
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