CONNECTING WITH YOUR KIDS: How Fast Families Can Move From Chaos to Closeness
Bethany House Publishers
About the Book
Read an Excerpt
The bookstores are flooded with parenting books, but what I like best about Timothy Smith's CONNECTING WITH YOUR KIDS is its unique spin on finding the right "pace" for your family. Rather than offer a one-size-fits-all approach, Smith acknowledges the uniqueness of every family --- and every family member --- and offers concrete suggestions to make your special combination of personalities mesh in a way that doesn't make everyone crazy.
Smith, a family coach and the author of THE SEVEN CRIES OF TODAY'S TEENS, believes most families need to slow down, although he acknowledges that some families function well at a fast pace. Many, however, are caught in the trap of too many music lessons, night classes, sports practices, tutoring lessons, youth groups…the list goes on and on. All of this is likely in the name of good parenting. As one mother said, "I don't know why, but we all believed that if some enrichment activities were good for our kids, then more enrichment activities would be even better."
Not so, says Smith. "Rushed living clogs up our lives and robs us of enjoyment, effectiveness, and energy," he writes. Many times, parents also get caught up in the chaos: volunteering, night classes, bringing work home, planning evening activities away. We stay up late to catch up, and wake up exhausted. "Frantic lives rob us of precious energy," writes Smith. We need to know why we do what we do. "Don't keep adding activities to your schedule just because you can."
To understand how your family might function the best, Smith divides our personalities into four "Heartprints:" Cruisers, Walkers, Runners, and Biathletes. Once you understand yourself and your child's personality, you can address the pace your family might function best at.
The "Cruiser" likes life to be predictable and feels out of control if things are going too fast, he says. Cruisers don't like to make mistakes and sometimes veer toward being perfectionists. "Walkers" like to take life slow and steady, but unlike the Cruiser, they like a faster pace forward. Walkers are often just that --- walkers --- and sympathetic listeners. They also like approval.
Runners squeeze as many things into a day as possible. They are the life of the party; everyone is their friend. Creative and energetic, they live life at warp speed, Smith writes. Biathletes, Smith says, are those who like to switch from fast to slow to fast again. They like variety and being in control.
After identifying the four Heartprints, Smith makes suggestions for parenting each type of personality (and parenting several different personalities in one family) that will bring out the best in each child. It's an interesting concept and definitely worth considering. If you like taking personality profile tests or quizzes, you'll enjoy this section of the book.
He also includes more general, practical ideas about changing an over-scheduled family, including a list of nine questions to ask yourself before signing up your child for another activity. ("How does the activity affect all family members?" "How much time in the car will it require?" "Will it interfere with meals, bedtimes, vacations, religious observations, holidays, and family commitments?"). Two sets of discussion questions at the end of each chapter are included: one set for parents to discuss, another for parents to use with their children.
As a now-identified Walker parent of a Runner and a Cruiser, I appreciated that Smith allows for uniqueness among families rather than a cookie-cutter approach. Even if your family isn't overscheduled, this worthwhile book will give you some good insights into increasing the quality of your family life.
--- Reviewed by Cindy Crosby. Contact Cindy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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