A comprehensive, hands-on guide to raising happy, successful children.
As an investment banker, writer and mother, Jones can relate to her audience: concerned parents who want the best for their children but are so “busy trying to provide [them] with…housing, food, a school, and some love” that they “don’t really have time for conceptual debates about ultimate right choices.” Her argument is that the current educational system in America is antiquated, resulting in a decrease in test scores among not only poor children but those of the middle class as well. “Trickle up illiteracy,” she calls it. To combat this, she argues, schools need to increase their focus on technology, financial savvy and science, giving students the practical skills they need in today’s globalized, digitized world. She’s concerned about character, too, and passes along balanced, practical guidance to parents about how to inspire their children to be thoughtful citizens: “Children should be guided, not pushed. But sometimes they should be forced as they need to learn not to get their own way but rather discipline and following through on their commitments.” At times, some of the advice can feel clichéd—“Character counts,” “Be polite,” “No one owes you anything”—and stylistically, the book has a laundry-list quality to it, with large chunks offering a series of brief, mostly common-sense snippets related to having a successful life, health, faith and risk-taking. The structure may bore some readers, although many more might find the simple format helpful, particularly in the sections that discuss education, where Jones offers clear summaries of a variety of things parents might have heard but not understood, such as explanations of charter schools, magnet schools and vouchers. Moreover, while some of the life advice may feel hackneyed, it’s also a welcome retreat from some of the more extreme parenting books of late. Jones isn’t a tiger mom or a helicopter parent; she’s a strong, mostly effective advocate for raising thoughtful, well-rounded children.
A well-researched, personable advice book on helping children become the best they can be.