How many times have you discussed child rearing with a friend who recommended a book to help navigate a problem? If you’re anything like me, you’re a parent with wonderful intentions, and a stack of unread parenting books on the night table.
I have books on everything from sleeping to discipline to making boys into men– all collecting dust. But recently I reviewed a book for the Associated Press that I promise is worth your time.
“The Secrets of Happy Families” is easy to read and offers clear, useful suggestions for eliminating some of the stress of modern parenting. Best-selling author, Bruce Feiler (he wrote “Walking the Bible” and “Council of Dads”) is known for researching complicated topics and making them understandable and relatable.
He’s also a husband and father of two, so he has a vested interest in creating a successful playbook for happy families.
Feiler read hundreds of books by so-called “experts,” only to realize that their advice was outdated and not applicable to families in the real world. So instead, he goes to people at the top of their game in business, technology, sports, and the military who offer innovative ideas that succeed at work and at home.
In the chapter on managing money, Feiler speaks to one of Warren Buffet’s finance guys about how much allowance is appropriate for kids. He visits ESPN to talk about the best way to parent kid athletes, and he chats with the techies at Zynga– the huge gaming company that brought you Farmville and Mafia Wars– about the best ways to amuse kids in an airport or long car trip. In the section on fighting smarter, he consults Harvard negotiation gurus who broker mideast peace talks and applies it to a recurring argument with his wife.
He also sits down with several families that have tested strategies to control the chaos. Imagine getting through your morning routine or dinner/activities crunch without feeling like you’ve survived a war!
What I liked most about the book is Feiler’s voice. He writes candidly about the realities of family life, even when it’s not pretty. He shares stories about his own wife and children as they play guinea pig for the methods in the book. Never talking down to the reader, he writes with humor and honesty that resonates.
Feiler doesn’t pretend to solve every problem in his pursuit of happiness. He offers concrete suggestions for streamlining family life and reminds parents that– like anything worth having– a happy family takes work.
I’m glad this book wasn’t left to wither away on my shelf like so many others. I’m making Wilson read it next so we can work as a team to implement some of the suggestions. Now we have new tools to work towards serenity in the home.
Just yelling less in the morning would be nice.
You can read the full review of “Secrets of Happy Families” here.