A methodical, doggedly optimistic guide to parenting.
This densely packed book by Marshall (Live Without Stress, 2017, etc.) begins by offering that cherished dream of young parents throughout history: a “less stressful and more effective approach” to parenting. To achieve this dream, Marshall advocates what he calls a “Raise Responsibility System.” The author points out that mothers and fathers in the modern era live in a radically different world than their earlier counterparts did; most modern children, he says, enjoy an unprecedented level of independence that one needs to factor in to a basic parenting strategy. Marshall urges a total paradigm shift, eschewing compulsion in favor of cooperation and urging discussion instead of dictatorship. In his system, parents never coerce their children—rather, the focus is on positivity. Instead of telling kids to do something that they don’t want to do under threat of punishment, one can urge them to do things that then allow them to do what they want to do. An imposed consequence, Marshall writes, “only works when the young person finds value in the relationship or when the person sees value in what he is being asked to do.” The bloodless tone of the prose here and elsewhere may turn off some readers, and Marshall also sometimes displays a tendency to idealize; for instance, he doesn’t fully account for the fact that some young people choose to disobey simply for disobedience’s sake. Still, a joyful humanism wins the day: “Teaching young people that they always have a choice and need not be victims is truly one of the most valuable insights parents can share,” the author writes.
Thought-provoking, revisionary advice on how to raise kids.