A solid place to start for parents who hope to solve the enigma that is the sullen teen.

Raising Children You Can Live With


Raser’s debut is a valuable tool for handling the most difficult job in the world: parenthood.

“[W]hen you are miserable and your children are too, this book may help you understand how things went wrong and how you can make them better,” Raser explains in this guide’s introduction. He asserts that parent-child problem are rooted in an imbalance between what se calls the “Business” (rules, guidance, discipline) and the “Personal” (care, love, fun) sides of the parenting equation. A seesawing pattern tilts things one way or the other, which can create real power struggles, especially when a child sees only the Business side. These can result in power deficits, he says; the negatives can slowly add up so that even one misplaced word can lead to a major screaming match. Raser suggests using “Strategic Interactions,” in which a child is given room to maneuver so that parent directives aren’t interpreted as power struggles. Diving into various real-world situations in short chapters, such as “What Do I Do When My Child Lies?” and “What Do I Do When My Child Won’t Communicate?,” the book gives examples of typical parent-child dialogues and outlines elements of Strategic Interactions to decrease ill will. Phrases in the Strategic Interaction dictionary (such as “I never thought of it that way before” and “I’m not sure I understand. Could you tell me more about it?”) may help kids see that parents understand where they’re coming from, Raser says. This book isn’t a panacea for all parent-child problems, but it’s a sure-footed work that provides plenty of ready examples for beleaguered parents. It doesn’t address teenage behavior in the context of the physiology of growing brains, but that may be well beyond the scope of this slim volume. And although the book uses the generic term “children,” most of the situations described here are really teen issues.

A solid place to start for parents who hope to solve the enigma that is the sullen teen.

Pub Date: Sept. 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-50-537358-5

Page Count: 138

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 9, 2015

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A straightforward tale of kindness and paying it forward in 1980s New York.

When advertising executive Schroff answered a child’s request for spare change by inviting him for lunch, she did not expect the encounter to grow into a friendship that would endure into his adulthood. The author recounts how she and Maurice, a promising boy from a drug-addicted family, learned to trust each other. Schroff acknowledges risks—including the possibility of her actions being misconstrued and the tension of crossing socio-economic divides—but does not dwell on the complexities of homelessness or the philosophical problems of altruism. She does not question whether public recognition is beneficial, or whether it is sufficient for the recipient to realize the extent of what has been done. With the assistance of People human-interest writer Tresniowski (Tiger Virtues, 2005, etc.), Schroff adheres to a personal narrative that traces her troubled relationship with her father, her meetings with Maurice and his background, all while avoiding direct parallels, noting that their childhoods differed in severity even if they shared similar emotional voids. With feel-good dramatizations, the story seldom transcends the message that reaching out makes a difference. It is framed in simple terms, from attributing the first meeting to “two people with complicated pasts and fragile dreams” that were “somehow meant to be friends” to the conclusion that love is a driving force. Admirably, Schroff notes that she did not seek a role as a “substitute parent,” and she does not judge Maurice’s mother for her lifestyle. That both main figures experience a few setbacks yet eventually survive is never in question; the story fittingly concludes with an epilogue by Maurice. For readers seeking an uplifting reminder that small gestures matter.


Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4516-4251-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Howard Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2011

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A vivid sequel that strains credulity.


Fremont (After Long Silence, 1999) continues—and alters—her story of how memories of the Holocaust affected her family.

At the age of 44, the author learned that her father had disowned her, declaring her “predeceased”—or dead in his eyes—in his will. It was his final insult: Her parents had stopped speaking to her after she’d published After Long Silence, which exposed them as Jewish Holocaust survivors who had posed as Catholics in Europe and America in order to hide multilayered secrets. Here, Fremont delves further into her tortured family dynamics and shows how the rift developed. One thread centers on her life after her harrowing childhood: her education at Wellesley and Boston University, the loss of her virginity to a college boyfriend before accepting her lesbianism, her stint with the Peace Corps in Lesotho, and her decades of work as a lawyer in Boston. Another strand involves her fraught relationship with her sister, Lara, and how their difficulties relate to their father, a doctor embittered after years in the Siberian gulag; and their mother, deeply enmeshed with her own sister, Zosia, who had married an Italian count and stayed in Rome to raise a child. Fremont tells these stories with novelistic flair, ending with a surprising theory about why her parents hid their Judaism. Yet she often appears insensitive to the serious problems she says Lara once faced, including suicidal depression. “The whole point of suicide, I thought, was to succeed at it,” she writes. “My sister’s completion rate was pathetic.” Key facts also differ from those in her earlier work. After Long Silence says, for example, that the author grew up “in a small city in the Midwest” while she writes here that she grew up in “upstate New York,” changes Fremont says she made for “consistency” in the new book but that muddy its narrative waters. The discrepancies may not bother readers seeking psychological insights rather than factual accuracy, but others will wonder if this book should have been labeled a fictionalized autobiography rather than a memoir.

A vivid sequel that strains credulity.

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-982113-60-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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