Books by Kevin Leman

Released: May 6, 1993

The author of Growing Up Firstborn (1989) and other easy- listening psychology books presents yet another parenting guide aimed at the Ann Landers set. Introducing the idea of ``self-image insurance'' (techniques assuring the development of self-esteem), Leman focuses on the ABCs of self-worth—acceptance and affirmation, belonging, and competence—and again emphasizes Reality Discipline, that combination of love and limit-setting familiar from his earlier work and from the writing of Rudolf Dreikurs (Children, 1964, etc.). A host of CBN's Parent Talk Radio, Leman recognizes problems generated by the parenting extremes of authoritarianism and permissiveness and by the more common conflicts (over homework, housework, allowance) in families, but he never loses sight of the essential task of parenting: encouraging a positive self-image. Don't take behavior personally, he counsels; even bad behavior has a purpose. Love unconditionally, allow flexibility and room for failure, and remember that the tail doesn't wag the dog. Much of this has been said as well before, by Leman and others, and there's little to distinguish this book from half a dozen others. But it's full of warm, memorable phrases, useful tips for different age groups, and everyday examples to reassure parents that most problems can be resolved by following a few basic principles. Read full book review >
Released: March 3, 1992

Host of CBN's Parent Talk Radio, psychologist Leman (Were You Born for Each Other?, 1990, etc.) here offers a plan of action—``Reality Discipline''—for dealing with common family problems. The term ``Reality Discipline'' is based on child-rearing specialist Rudolf Dreikurs's work on the logical consequences of human behavior, which, in a nutshell, finds that certain actions and attitudes result in certain consequences. Here, Leman has revised and expanded the concept into a technique for managing ``your personal life, your marriage, and your children with love, respect, and effectiveness.'' The author is a master at simplifying and a whiz at thinking up catchy phrases. He's also fond of making lists (e.g., ``The Nine Ways Reality Discipline Can Strengthen Your Family'' and ``A Baker's Dozen Ways To Fill His Love Bank''). Every chapter ends with two lists, one designed to sum up the chapter and the other to get the reader started on applying its principles in real-life situations. Each also concludes with notes that are definitely not scholarly, including such references as Leman's other books and the Bible. But then Leman is not writing for the scholarly but, rather, for those who will either not notice or not mind his deliberate repetitiveness of key ideas. His advice is neither profound nor new, but it is sensible and clearly expressed, and the examples he provides from his own experiences are entertaining and believable. Sound advice delivered in sound bites. Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 14, 1990

Pop-psych advice for firstborns and last bores that is of middling profundity, readability, and usefulness. Presuming that parents demand much of their firstborn and coddle their last born, the oldest child, psychologist Leman says, will grow up to be a conscientious control-freak while the youngest will be a carefree, egotistic spendthrift. But by Leman's own argument, even these presumptions of parental behavior should depend upon the birth order of the parents involved—a factor he rarely discusses. Leman can, however, chart the compatibility of a male firstborn with younger sisters and a female last born with older brothers (said to be a good match), but his discussions of middle borns tend to be tenuous ("there are almost as many types of Middle Borns as there are stars in the sky"). Leman's Freudian, nurture-over-nature approach sounds thinnest when claiming that male promiscuity is learned and not innate. For the most part, though, the romantic and marital advice here is quite sound. Truisms about opposite personalities making the best marriages are what differentiate this book from his more generalized The Birth Order Book and Growing Up Firstborn (1989). Leman does offset his gratuitous repetitions with chatty, sometimes funny, writing, but readers might occasionally prefer some hard statistics to down-home phrases such as "I would be willing to wager. . ." Minus the filler and with the addition of supporting statistics, this would have made a fine article for Psychology Today. Read full book review >