FAMILY RULES: Raising Responsible Children by Kenneth Kaye

FAMILY RULES: Raising Responsible Children

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Best-of-both-worlds child rearing, ostensibly--""restrictive"" and ""constructive""--in a long (400 pp.), wordy, three-part volume: I, ""A System of Clear, Firm Family Rules""; II, ""How to Construct a Person""; III, ""Special Topics""--non-traditional families, crisis situations. Kaye, a psychiatrist at Northwestern Medical School, has not only combined the precepts of behaviorism, the insights of analytic therapy, and the findings of sociology; he embraces with equal fervor Selma Fraiberg's The Magic Years (""the best book ever written about early childhood"") and ""the excellent book Toughlove, by Phyllis and David York""--save for the Yorks' non-use of ""professional counseling."" (Actually a vehement anti-psychology/psychiatry stand--q.v., Toughlove Solutions, below.) Kaye's book would probably work best for the rule-minded who, like Kaye, don't wish to be ""authoritarian."" Though the opening examples tend toward trivial extremes (a clothing ""rule"" that would rule out wearing a ""faded shirt"" to school), in the text itself the advice is fairly orthodox: as few rules as possible, only those that can be enforced, with further restrictions as punishments. (He'd also have them non-negotiable, however; have them written; and start them as young as age one. His system calls, further, for putting kids who flout the ""rules-of-Liberty"" on formal ""Probation."") The second, ""constructive"" section attends not only to general ideas on building competence and self-esteem, but also to developmental stages--largely disregarded in the first section. But it also leans heavily on rule-making (""Don't punish your child for her first deliberate lie if you had no prior rule against lying"") and on stiff, didactic dialogues (""Son, there are two ways people deal with each other: by trusting or not trusting""). The third section is relatively cursory on non-traditional families, and sometimes remarkably rigid and blinkered. (""As a stepparent, your authority comes from your status. . . as coprovider of the child's needs."" Don't be sidetracked by ""lack of a biological relationship"" or the fact that ""the love between you and your stepchildren cannot be the same. . . ."") The ""Crisis mode,"" in turn, is connected up with Toughlove--and professional therapy. Except for the techniques of making and enforcing rules--where Kaye's psychological background comes into effective play: a dubious rehash/pastiche.

Pub Date: Sept. 30th, 1984
Publisher: Walker