PARENT FATIGUE SYNDROME

WHAT TO DO WHEN CONVENTIONAL WISDOM IS NOT VERY WISE

Insightful parenting tips for achieving understanding, empathy and healthy human development.

In this warm, wise and often witty book, debut author Hulton offers clearheaded insights and methods she’s learned while counseling exhausted, perplexed parents as a mental health counselor and psychoanalyst. This six-part handbook’s most valuable attributes are its lack of condescension and its nonauthoritarian mission “to teach all parents to trust empathy and in so doing to break out of Parent Fatigue Syndrome.” That syndrome, she writes, is caused by relying on “conventional wisdom”—the “spare the rod, spoil the child” tradition and trendy contemporary advice that stresses achievements and can make parents feel like failures. Concise, explicit information will enable readers to develop individualized practices. The author discusses children’s essential needs, developmental milestones (such as attachment and breaking away) and ideal school experiences (such as the individualistic Reggio Emilia approach). She also includes practical, fun therapy methods (such as sock puppets and sand trays), plus an index. “There really is no one way to parent,” claims Hulton, and she sprinkles generous references throughout to works by child development experts such as Haim Ginott, Robert Karen, T. Berry Brazelton, Penelope Leach and Maggie Scarf. Mindful of recent school shootings, she stresses the importance of raising compassionate global citizens and recognizing the societal danger of “empathy erosion.” Empathy, she says, doesn’t mean excusing or accepting bad behavior: “It is the reflection of another’s emotional experience so that they feel understood—understood well enough to feel that they are part of the world in which they live so that alienation does not become a slowly spreading cancer in their soul.”

A highly recommended work that shows that parenting can be a rewarding lifetime investment that pays great dividends not only to caregivers, but also to society.

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2013

ISBN: 978-0989841726

Page Count: 187

Publisher: Studio Owls Inc.

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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DEAR MR. HENSHAW

Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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