Debut author Hughes writes of “transforming the world,” via better communication with children.
Once an unwed teen mother herself, now a Ph.D. running a behavioral health center, Hughes writes frankly about how to discuss and model appropriate behavior on tough topics that routinely baffle both adults and children: obesity, education, sex and, above all, learning from mistakes. Her approach is simple, direct and honest. “If we don’t talk about [sex], our kids will find a way to talk about it anyway,” she writes, urging the reader to take the path of greatest benefit instead of least resistance. But discussing those tough topics with young people doesn’t mean treating them as adults. “They’re going to be adults soon enough. Let them be kids while they can. In fact, insist upon it,” Hughes states. She reinforces the importance of connection and social responsibility with interviews of other community-centered professionals, occasionally punctuating her points with stories of extraordinary individuals who’ve chosen to step up and make a difference in a young person’s life. Hughes has a knack for reducing complicated concepts to their basic principles, as when she explains that “influencing” kids boils down to being present, open and acting responsibly. She’s a strong voice speaking from within the community—not standing apart—to reassure readers that they’re in a position to do real good, right now. “Children, especially young children, learn through observation,” Hughes writes, reinforcing the importance of owning one’s own actions. “Your words have value, but not as much value as your actions.”
Hughes’ straightforward, honest approach makes potentially intimidating topics manageable.