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Despite the flag-waving title and the bows to Patriotism, Religion, and Respect for the Law, this parenting guide is mostly a rehash of old ideas--with a dollop of liberal ""personal values and philosophy."" Novello, a Washington, D.C., child psychiatrist who hosts a weekly radio call-in show, borrows variously from Ginott, Gordon, Adler, and Freud--even Robert Ringer. So the techniques advised are familiar: parents shouldn't speak for their children (they're projecting their adult personalities), and should avoid mixed messages (don't get your daughter a prescription for the pill, then tell her nice girls don't); they should accentuate the positive (""Catch 'em being good""), and use punishment only as a last resort (then ""punish the event, not the child""). Of seven American parenting styles, Novello endorses the ""participatory"" family--meaning that parents seek the advice (but not the consent) of their children; he gives only one example, however, of just how this works. Mental health is defined as a loose amalgam of labels: ""self, love, friends, personal values, and religion, standing on a foundation of social interest."" Discussing the last three, Novello lists some of his favorite values: patriotism (which ""means different things to different people""); the family (an open-minded treatment, here, of the women's movement and divorce); and the law (""while it is desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, it is even more desirable to cultivate a respect for what is right""). And once parents have established their values, these become the non-negotiables of family life--so Dad shouldn't fuss about the length of his son's hair, and should ""keep his powder dry for the things that really count."" Conventional advice and democratic values, tied up in red-white-and-blue ribbon.

Pub Date: Oct. 23rd, 1981
Publisher: A & W