Monday, May 3, 2010

Book Review: Love, Warmth, and Discipline

Any time I approach a parenting book, I do so with much skepticism. In the past I've read more than my fair share of parenting drivel from the so-called experts. Much of it usually comes across to me as mindless liberal hippie dogma. It's the kind of advice that tells you that if you don't let little Billy or Jenny have total freedom and self autonomy that he or she would like, then your child will essentially wind up being a messed up adult.  And, these are usually the experts that will tell you not a discipline your child--wouldn't want to hurt the child's all-powerful self-esteem by pointing out that he/she had done something wrong. So it only makes sense that I approached Fr. Val J. Peter's Love, Warmth and Discipline-Lessons from Boys Town for Successful Parenting with the skepticism that I was about to be taken on another liberal hippy adventure into the realm of "parenting advice."

With a healthy dose of skepticism I sat down to read the book. Starting with the introduction, I began to realize that this wasn't one of those parenting books where I was going to bristle at the advice that was going to follow. While the fact remained that this was a parenting book written by a childless person, he certainly was not without real world experience. He has spent 25 years working with adolescents at Boys Town. From there, he springboards into the meat of the book with his series of dispatches from the front lines (also known as the chapters). I think in many regards he won me over with his first dispatch. From the start of the first chapter, Fr. Peter makes it clear that he views the abundant parenting advice that you find floating all over these days to be propaganda and encourages his readers not to buy it. Finally! Someone who gets it!

This book essentially takes all the detrimental and self-centered parenting advice of today to task and illustrates just why it doesn't work. He categorizes parenting into three groups: permissive, authoritarian, and authoritative. He explains why permissive and authoritarian models do not work. The model of parenting that they follow at Boys town is authoritative. From my standpoint, this model seems like the common sense approach.

I found the book to be a very interesting read. I felt the book was a bit short, but it was certainly long enough to get the point across to the reader. It's a worthwhile read for parents of adolescents or parents who will have adolescents in the near future.

This review was written as part of the Catholic Book Reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Love, Warmth, and Discipline- Lessons from Boys Town for Successful Parenting.

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