By Carol Lloyd
Call me unbalanced, but parenting books exert a schizoid power over my brain. While my “eager-beaver, wanna be a better mommy” personality yearns to devour these ubiquitous how-to manuals, the other side of me — call her Ms. Easily Unimpressed — smells a rat and turns up her nose.
“You can’t fool me with your bogus generalizations about my children,” I silently critique the grinning author on the back flap. “You don’t even know them.”
Eventually, the curious, more gullible me wins out, and I crack open the cover only to come across the first patently inane assertion and drop the book mid-sentence, never to be picked up again.
Thus, like many parents I know, I’ve read parts of dozens of these tracts on raising happier, smarter, more responsible children, but finished precious few. It’s not that they are so inherently bad — it’s just that they all seem to have an ax to grind that says a heck of a lot more about the authors’ desire for a really cool ax (or their own professional biases) than the many nuances of real-life parenting. The psychologists prescribe innovative therapeutic solutions; the learning specialists recommend new-fangled mental calisthenics. Eventually, the authors let their bias show.
This is when a parent shrinks back and wonders: Why am I outsourcing my most important job to a paperback?
NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children, by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman, offers a welcome respite from the unified field theory of parenthood. As journalists — he’s a writer/dad, she’s the director of a tutoring center for inner-city kids in Los Angeles — they both have a stake in discovering useful strategies for raising children and encouraging their learning. But since they aren’t experts in a single field, they can afford to focus on the most promising new ideas to emerge from recent studies.
The book is worth reading. (If that’s not glowing praise from an overemployed parent with young children, I don’t know what is.) But just in case you can’t get around to it this weekend, here are a few golden nuggets:
Just kidding! But the research is clear: Labeling kids with even positive innate attributes can undermine their confidence in their own ability to tackle difficult problems. Stanford University’s Carol Dweck observed that children who were told they were intelligent shied away from greater challenges, while another group of kids who were praised for their stick-to-itiveness attempted to solve more-difficult problems and often succeeded. This, Dweck has theorized, exemplifies the difference between a “fixed mindset,” in which the mind is viewed as a receptacle of a certain amount of inborn talent and intelligence, and a “growth mindset,” in which the mind is regarded as a muscle that can become stronger with effort.
Sign up for our newsletter and we'll send you more
insights to help you help your child succeed.
Thank you! You will begin to receive newsletters from us shortly.
Great work! Only one more step. Now we just need you to verify your email address. Please click on the link in the email we just sent you to complete your registration.
Great work! Only one more step. Now we just need you to verify your email address. Please click on the link in the email we just sent you to submit your review.
Please click on the link in the verification email we just sent you to complete your change of email address.
Whoops! It looks like we still need to verify your email. To do so, please click on the link in the email we sent you. Can't find the e-mail? Click the button below and we'll send you a new one.
Thanks for registering. Welcome to GreatSchools, the largest online community committed to improving educational outcomes through parental involvement.
Thanks for verifying your updated email address.
Oops! You haven't verified your email address yet. To do so, please click on the link in the email we sent you. Can't find the email? Click the button below to receive a new one.
Oops! That email verification link has expired. Please click the button below to receive a new one.
Create an account to submit your answers.
Sign in with an existing GreatSchools account or using Facebook:
Your review has been posted to GreatSchools.
Share with friends! Post your opinion of on Facebook.
Welcome to GreatSchools!
For principals and school officials, we offer a special Enhanced School Profile (ESP) which allows you to update and add information about your school, as well as respond to reviews. If you are a school official, click Continue to start.
Please note that it can take up to 48 hours for your comment to be posted to our site. While you're here, we'd like to invite you to fill out a survey on your school's programs, activities, and extracurriculars. It only takes a few minutes and will help parents get a full picture of your school.
Get started now! You have successfully registered and can now start updating your Official School Profile. The information you provide is extremely valuable in helping parents and students learn more about your school, so thanks for taking the time!
Thank you for registering as a school leader. We just need to verify your email address. We've sent you an email - please click on the link in that message to get started editing your school's information!
Thanks! We just sent you an email – please click on the link in the email to post your answers.
Get timely updates for , including performance data and recently posted user reviews.