** Reviewed,  Family Ministry,  Parenting and Family Life,  Product Reviews

Book Review: 8 simple tools for raising great kids

One thing that just about every parent has in common is that they want to be a good one. If we are honest, most of us would admit that we could be better at it than we are. That’s why there are so many books on the subject of parenting. In fact a quick search on Amazon for the term “parenting” brings up over 180,000 results. With that in mind why would we need another parenting book? How could we even know which book to buy? I certainly will not begin to tell you which of the 180,000 plus parenting books on Amazon you should buy. But, I did want to share my thoughts on a new parenting book that I had the opportunity to read recently.
 
8 simple tools for raising great kids. by Todd Cartmell
 
Let me start with a bit of transparency. As I read the introduction to this book I read that the author was a child psychologist I immediately rolled my eyes. It has been my experience that many such parenting experts are what I would consider too soft. I had a psychology professor in college that insisted that talking to kids about what they had done wrong was the only way to handle poor behavior. There is certainly a time for talking, and there is a time for punishment. However, as I began to read into the book I found that this guy had some good thoughts to share. I certainly wouldn’t say that I agree with everything he says, but that is true of pretty much every book.
 
The problem with a child psychologist writing such a book is that they only see behaviors that have resulted in a negative outcome. For this reason they can assume that if a parent does a certain thing than it will always have a negative effect. That simply isn’t true. However, what the psychologist does bring to the conversation is proof, from their experience, that certain behaviors have the potential to cause a negative outcome. For this reason, as caring parents who love our children we should listen to their thoughts and, as with anything we read, take what is useful and applicable for us and set aside the rest. In so doing we must be careful that we don’t simply set aside the pieces that we don’t like or that hurt our feelings.
 
So, what about the book? Turns out Mr. Cartmell has some really good things to say. He breaks his advice into, well, 8 simple tools. He then breaks each of these tools into a hand full of tips. Let’s take a brief look at the first tool and the tips that go along with it. 
 
Tool #1 – TALKING
  • Tip #1: Your communication style with your kids is REALLY REALLY important. Not their communication style. Yours.
  • Tip #2: If you are not sure what to say, a brief pause can make all the difference between wise words and hurtful ones.
  • Tip #3: When you initiate a conversation with your kids, it shows them that at that moment, you are more interested in them than in anything else.
  • Tip #4: When you are an easy to listen to parent, your kids will be more open to the important lessons you want to teach.
  • Tip #5: When your conversations are like a friendly game of catch, everyone will want to be involved.
As is often the case, much of the wisdom shared in this book is not rocket science. In fact much of it is what many of us would come up with if we took the time to really examine our behavior and methods. But, somehow when we hear someone else say these things they impact us in a way that our own thoughts often don’t. This book is filled with that sort of wisdom. I will not go so far as to endorse every word of the book, but I will say that there is much wisdom that, if implemented, will make us a better parent. More importantly, it will improve the relationship between parent and child.
I will not tell you that this is the one parenting book that every parent should have. However, I will tell you that if you are looking for a book to help you be a better parent and improve your relationship with your children, this one should be on your list.
Matt Norman

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I am a Christian, husband, father, pastor, church planter, nurse, and freelance writer.

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