A few things before I start this review:
1. I typically don’t care for parenting books. They tend to be preachy, too complicated, and make me feel like a lousy parent after reading them. Read more about my thoughts on parenting books here.
2. Dr. David Palmiter, the author of Working Parents, Thriving Families, is a colleague of mine so I’m not totally un-biased when it comes to this review. With that said, one of the reasons he is a colleague is that I consider him an excellent psychologist and teacher.
3. I have read this book a couple of times. The first time was so I could write a quick review to go into the book. The second time was for this blog – so I consider myself a real expert on this book! To read my review (along with a bunch of others), click here.
OK, with that stuff out of the way, here we go:
While I’m not sure if the “Working” in the title refers to parents who work outside the home, or a recognition of the fact that parenting is “work,” the title sets the tone for this down-to-earth, super accessible book that deals with a lot of real-life issues. Dr. Palmiter doesn’t focus on step-by-step techniques or discipline strategies that need a PhD to administer. He simply talks about the basics of parenting and what needs to happen in order to raise a happy family – while acknowledging that none of us is perfect and we all get overwhelmed and frustrated with ourselves, our partners, and our kids from time to time.
A few of the things I like best about Dr. Palmiter’s book:
- “Special Time.” Dr. Palmiter suggests we spend an hour each week with each of our children doing nothing but watching them engage in something they enjoy, and then commenting, praising, and encouraging them in that activity. He suggests how awesome it might feel if we (as adults) heard things like: “You prepared that dinner beautifully” or “Wow, you really managed the kids like a pro today” on a regular basis – and the same goes for our kids. I love tips like this because they are free, aren’t hard to master, don’t have side effects, and can make a huge impact on families in a relatively short period of time. I know, I know, I’m not sure I can really do that for what would equal 3 hours per week either (and he comments on that complaint), but it is something to work toward for sure.
- His humor and lighthearted tone. Parenting is a funny endeavor – but you would never know it by looking at most of the books, blogs, and websites out there. Dr. Palmiter did a great job making me laugh. A couple examples are when he offers some comebacks to common kid complaints:
Kid: But all of my friends are allowed to do it!
Parent: Do you think their parents would consider adopting you?
Kid: But, you let (name of sibling) do that!
Parent: I love her more than you.
- I didn’t feel like crap at the end. As I mentioned above, lots of parenting books make me feel like a bad parent. Either because I never have the energy or motivation to do all the things they tell me I should, or because my kids never look like their examples. The thing about this book is that my family DOES look like Dr. Palmiter’s examples, and he even shares his own quirky family and parenting blunders with us! He also seems to get that modern family life is crazy, hectic (his website is even hecticparents.com), and frankly ugly at times.