Tag Archives: Book Review

Foster Care Solutions Practical Tools for Foster Parents — book review

I just read Foster Care Solutions Practical Tools for Foster Parents.  It is a book based on Common Sense Parenting from Girls and Boys Town. 

Full disclosure here I worked for Boys and Girls Town of Missouri (Springfield Campus) from 2000 to 2003; both in the emergency placement shelter and in the intensive care female cottage.  (note they are not the same organization, though they share a similar mission and “form”)  I also worked, from 1992 to 2000, for a group home groups (that is they had several homes) where we lived as a family (co-ed and not intensive care) there I was a full time assit. house parent and also a relief staff / “weekend parent”.  Thus, to be honest most of what was in this

book was identical or very similar to material I have been trained on several times.  Never hurts to have a good reminder, to read though it all again, but it was not earth shatteringly new to me.

This book was written directly at the target audience of Girls and Boys Town Professional Foster Parents (“Being professional also means that you will agree to work within the rules of the program…this means using the skills you are taught in you initial trainings …” pg 35).  Still there is much to glean from the material (“…seeks first to understand, then to be understood.”  Pg 28)

Mostly, being a manual for their house / foster parents it is rather dry.  Again, it was nothing new for me.  Girls and BoysTown, originally Boy’s Town, was founded on Christian principals and I did love these quotes, towards the end of the book:  “if you are powerless before evil forces in your life you desperately need to get into touch with “a Higher Power” and “without a spritial foundation external changes will not last (pg 279)

 

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The Connected Child (book review)

As many of you know I am diving in to my foster care and adoption reading list, with the intention that we will apply to certify in early 2013.

I just finished The Connected Child.  The book is essentially ‘Attachment Parenting’ an introduction for the adoptive parent.  It was a pleasant easy read.  However, having been reading about Attachment Parents (and practicing it) for many years, there was nothing new in it.   It was a great interdiction and I do suggest it as a starting point for reading about Attachment Parenting as it related to the foster or adoptive family.

It would be a very valuable read for a parent adopting their first child (or fostering); but since we already have two boys and have been knee deep in parenting since 2005 most of the suggesting and pointers were already well known to me.  The Connected Child was a good starting point, and I am glad to see it highly recommended in adoption community, nevertheless I think parents would be better served by reading something (or many somethings) for the Sears Library.

The best advice I found in the book was a way to think about your foster or adoptive child’s background.  The author suggests thinking about having a biological child who you have loved and raised for years, and having that child abducted.  After several years you get your child back.  Then to consider how you would need to help your child to heal from their trauma.  Then to consider that is the traumatic background your foster or adoptive child is recovering from.

A worthy read, and a great starting point, but nothing new for me.

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Parenting with Love and Logic; a review

I just read Love and Logic and have to say I was wholely unimpressed.  I started out with a fundamental difference of opinion with the authors with in the first few pages, and that – at the very root – maybe part of my thoughts on the entire book.

The authors begin their discussion of “the grand responsibility of parenthood’ by stating that kids today, post 9/11 and Katrina, are “growing up faster than we did” (32).  First of all, how trite can you be?  Every generation since Cain and Able has said that.  More importantly however is my founding belief that children and teens are growing up faster today simply because parents do not want to parent and want to be absolved of their responsibility as soon as they can be.  It is my view, our view here in this home, that children need to be children (yes even at 10 and 14 and so on) and that it is a basic parent duty to make sure they not only get to be kids, but that they stay kids even as they strain to grow up.  Ten year olds today are still ten year old and need to be damming creeks and catching frog, no ogling adult websites.  That falls to the parents and what they allow and facilitate; that is no different in 2012 then 1950 or 1912.  Thus I began the book with a solid difference of opinion with the authors.

I found the book an easy read, and even a timely reminder about picking my battles and using cooperative language rather than confrontive language (“should you can play outside, right after you pick up the books” rather than “no you are not going outside till every book is put up”).  But that is really where my appreciation for the book ends.  I think we can all agree that the role as parents is to allow children to learn to make choices and decisions for themselves; but the key, to me, is that they have to be age appropriate choices.  I am the parent, I can see around the corner my kids can’t, I have to make some choices for them.  The authors pay lip service to keeping the choices the child get to make realistic then give example after example that are anything but realistic.

The examples used in the book were at best laughable and more realistically just plan dim-witted.  I’ll share my three favorite examples.  One:  the two year old making a mess and disrupting dinner (first of all, what do you expect Martha Stewart?) is told “you can eat nice or you can play on the floor”.  The idea being the child learns he or she can not disrupt the adult dinner (again, why did this couple have a child if they do not want their adult habits disrupted).  The authors state this child, hungry till breakfast; will soon learn to eat nicely at the table.   Secondly a six year old who doesn’t like to go to bed is given the “choice” of when to go to sleep and is still up playing in his room when the adults go to bed at mid-night.  The child is then awaken at 6 am (still in his clothing from yesterday) and told to get ready for school.  I have a six year old, and I know how plain ridicules this example is.  Finally an other school age child (say ten) is late getting ready for school, misses the bus and the parent tell him “I am not taking you spend the day in your room just like you are at school and do not bother me” and then the next morning sends the child off to school (assumablely on time) with no excuse note.  I am certainly not one to scoff at limits and consequences (see my post Obedience is Not a bad Word).  Nevertheless the examples are foolish and ill-advised to the point of being insulting to the reading parent; a parent trying to parent a real child not a fictional ‘parenting manual child’.

Here in the real world we do not have perfect ‘parenting book children” that walk away quietly when told “if you can’t talk nice to me, I won’t listen” and return 20 minutes later cheerful and never sass us again.  Here in the real world we are striving to raise real kids; and too many parenting books fail when the rubber meets the road.  There are good ideas in the book, but the authors make the same fundamental mistake most parenting authors do, they take their ideas too far.  There is very little good about going to extremes no matter what parenting style you are talking about.

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Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning by Doug Wilson (book review)

Odd book. 

The author spends 90 pages building a strong case for a classical (3 staged) Christian Education.  The author spends the first chapters, 70+ pages building the case that parents are accountable to god for their children’s education, and parents alone hold this responsibility before the Lord.  Then he spends 2 meaty chapters discussing a truly Christian education rather than a “cleaned up public school with a couple of prays and a Bible class added in. 

Finally, however, he condemns home school as a viable option.  After working so hard to make the case that parents alone stand before God to answer for the education their children, he pronounces that they should not actually educate them.  “I believe that a Christian school provides Christian parents with the most effect way to take responsibility for the education of their children, while at the same time ensuring that the education actually happens” (page 127).  “I believe the best way to oversee the education of our children to find, or start, a Christian school that encourages parental involvement” (129). 

He reasons boarder on silly, and are patternedly over used.  A father doesn’t have to grow his own food to feed his children, for the food to be wholesome and acceptable (page 129).  The fact a parent at home can never hope to challenge a student as a teacher in a room full of 30 for one hour a day can; that parents are going to burn out, or be distracted by life.  He clashes with the Moore’s’ premise of “better late than early” and tries to claim that parents that hold-off formal academic till 7 or even 8 are simply being lazy and looking for any excuse not to have to ‘do school’.  He further states that if a Christian parent is willing to use a curriculum that is paramount to sending the student to a school (the school of ABC curriculum) so in effect homeschooling is again just an ‘cover’ for the parent to be lazy about the child’s education and allow that same laziness in the student.  He states that the only reason home schoolers are able to out perform public schools is the disgraceful state of the public schools, not any real benefit to home education (page 130). 

I especially enjoyed the tag at the end “I am concerned that this chapter not be perceived as too adversarial” (130).

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When You Rise Up by R C Sproul (book review)

You can not determine what to teach your children by taking away what should not be taught to your children

When you rise up by R C Sproul  is a good read, a worthwhile read.  A fast read too, I could have one it in one day; the text is not deep and the references plain.  No, there is not a lot of ‘new’ material in it; but the topics covered as looked at in detail. 

It focuses Biblically mainly on Psalm 78:1 – 8 and on Deu 6: 1 – 9.  the emphasis of the book is that God has given parent the responsibility to educate the children He gifts them with and that parents can not continue handing children over the state for education then trying to claim innocents when the children are not educated; or worse when the children are educated but not morally.  Not a new idea, but one that people still need to hear:  you can not send your children to a worldly indoctrination camp and then be surprised by what comes home.  Secondly you can not “undue” 8 + hours a day, 5 day a week in a hour or some over dinner and a couple of hours on Sunday. 

“If we continue to send our children to Caesar for their education, we need to stop being surprised when they come home as Romans.” Voddie Baucham

Secondly the book repeatedly debunks the “I am not smart enough to teach physics” as a ‘reason’ parents cite for not home educating.  The fallacy of the idea you have to meet worldly standards to educate you child in God is a repeated theme; and the question is repeated ‘what are you trying to teach’ advanced calculus or Godliness.  There are tons of ways to find help teaching your children advanced subjects you do not feel comfortable covering, but there are limited ways to raise a moral and Godly child / young adult. 

The best thesis of the book, the meatiest food for thought, finally comes on page 79-80. 

“The Trouble is, even when we succeed in getting rid of all the worldly stuff that offends our sensibilities, even when we get rid of the worldly worldview, we still have not answered the questions “what should teach”.  You can not determine what to teach your children by taking away what should not be taught to your children”…Certainly what is left is not morally repugnant.  But our goal isn’t simply to have a curriculum that isn’t morally repugnant”.

He advocate not home education in reaction to the schools, thus the schools are still in control, but home educating with our responsibility to God for our children as our guiding light.

A few quotes that struck home with me:

If we can not see God’s Glory in the study of astrophysics then we have no business studying it, or teaching it to our children. (33)

Because all education is inherently ‘moral’ every school will always pass able the moral convictions of the sponsors (37)

…teaching our children is our delight, our joy, our opportunity.  When we see spending time with them as a burden; rather than a joy, we further see how encultured we have become [in the world]. (50)

…if it is not enough if our children are merely clean-cut…we want from these children, male and female, is a commitment to be Christian soldiers…we want warriors that understand Satan wants them to think as he does.  (100)

Whenever parents teach history they are giving sermons (106)

I think the book is really worth reading for every Christian parent to really challenge their educational choices and really offer some meat for consideration. 

Deuteronomy 6

6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

Psalm 78

1 My people, hear my teaching;
   listen to the words of my mouth.
2 I will open my mouth with a parable;
   I will utter hidden things, things from of old—
3 things we have heard and known,
   things our ancestors have told us.
4 We will not hide them from their descendants;
   we will tell the next generation
the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD,
   his power, and the wonders he has done.
5 He decreed statutes for Jacob
   and established the law in Israel,
which he commanded our ancestors
   to teach their children,
6 so the next generation would know them,
   even the children yet to be born,
   and they in turn would tell their children.
7 Then they would put their trust in God
   and would not forget his deeds
   but would keep his commands.
8 They would not be like their ancestors—
   a stubborn and rebellious generation,
whose hearts were not loyal to God,
   whose spirits were not faithful to him.

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Talkers, Watchers, and Doers: Unlocking Your Child’s Unique Learning Style (review)

Not worth the time to read.  Sadly.  Talkers, Watchers, and Doers: Unlocking Your Child’s Unique Learning Style (School Savvy Kids) is a very very very basic introduction to the three basic learning styles (kinetic, auditory and visual). 

Honestly I can see it being useful to give to a Junior High level student as a discussion of different learning styles, the acceptance of them, and the ‘you just need to alter your approach to fit yours’ concept.  However it simple offers nothing to an adult / parent.

It is a fast read, and easy read (again maybe Junior High reading level, I am sure I could have sped though it in Grade school) but there is just no meat, no substance.  Many cute stories about kids that were failing every spelling test until a mom recorded their spelling words on a tape, gave them a walkman and hand them match up and down the stairs to the beat of their spelling drills; beyond that everything vas common sense and rudimentary.  Ants in Their Pants by Aerial Cross is a much better book if you are looking for suggestions on ‘altering the approach to assignments / material presentation’ especially to allow a child to get up and move, but also to make visual images and the like. 

I got it off paperbackswap.com, so I did not waste the $10.39 Amazon.com is asking for it.  I’ll post it back on to PBS and get a different book.  That is the joy of paperbackswap.com – no guilt for the books that don’t turn out as you hope.

 

 

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Invicible Louisa

Invincible Louisa: The Story of the Author of “Little Women”

Written in 1933 the language is beautiful.  I am amazed, however, at the positive and glowing description of LMA’s father.  Her father is well known to have been a dreamer, a never-do-well, woefully inadequate as a bread-winner for the family.  The family was in constant finical distress till LMA herself began her publishing career; the strains due solely to her father’s wandering and placement of vague ideals above solid employment to support his wife and 4 children.  The hard life and the constant fear and emotional turmoil Abba (LAM’s mother) held that family together though is heart-breaking.  Honestly the author might have been better off writing a study of Bronson Alcott (LMA’s father) than of Louisa May herself; since mush of the text is devoted to his various schools and odd ambitions. 

Page 98 is the first mention of her publishing any writing and Little women, while certainly not her only noteworthy effort (not even my favorite) is not mentioned till page 200, a mere 41 pages before the end of the book.

On page 184 there is discussion Louisa having a ‘close male friend’ this is AFTER the Civil war, and LMA was born in 1832, so she was in her 30’s or 40’s by this time.  The author, then, speaks of the fact that LMA made veiled reference to lovers or admirers though out her life, but paid them to heed, so history should not attend to them either.  The author claims the earliest reference LMA herself makes to a lover is when she vas 15, I question the definition of lover a 15 year old female for a good family in the about 1845 would really have had, none the less I find it odd the biography author merely looks back on this in passing while discussion her later life.  Again this books doesn’t seem to be about LMA as much as it is about her father and the experience of the family (moving something like 25 times in 26 years) following him.

I did learn a few new facts.  For example while I knew the Alcott family was near and dear to Emerson I have no idea they also know, much less how well, the Hawthorns.  It is interesting; to look back, at the now famous people that readily exchanges addresses before any of them were a person of mention.  I also did not know she has nursed in the Civil war (inWashingtonDC) so that she had come so near to death as a result.

Overall, not that great a read.  I finished it on one hand because I am obsessive like that and rarely do NOT finish a book and secondly just almost with a morbid curiosity to see if the author ever really talked about LMA or is all of the book focused on glowing coverage of her never-do-well father.  Clearly LMA served only as a window though which to discuss her father and his theories and the tribulations he put the family though; though the author presents them all as joyous varied experiences.

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