Check It Out: Parenting can be one tough job

Oh, the joys of parenthood! Most of the time it's wonderful, but sometimes it gets tough. That's when a visit to the library just might help. Books on the topic of parenting range from humorous and anecdotal to serious problem solving.

But beyond the typical troubleshooting manuals with behavior modification and disciplinary techniques, you can also find insightful direction for raising responsible, compassionate, and socially responsible children. These titles available at the Newport Beach Public Library address ways of instilling children with a personal conscience, core values, empathy towards others and the ability to make individual lifelong decisions.

"The We Generation: Raising Socially Responsible Kids" by Michael Ungar, PhD: Written in the spirit of helping parents foster their offspring to be less self-involved and more consciously compassionate people, Ungar offers anecdotes, self-evaluation tools, and lists of activities to address and overcome the problem of self-centered kids. Ungar analyzes various types of connections such as family, spiritual, physical, and even architectural, often concluding in each chapter ways to nurture kind and community-minded connections in children. This is a hopeful appeal to parents who want to improve the next generation's awareness of social, economical and environmental issues.

"The Highly Intuitive Child: A Guide to Understanding and Parenting Unusually Sensitive and Empathic Children" by Catherine Crawford, MFT, ATR: Crawford, a psychotherapist, who has dealt with many intuitive children during the past 20 years, explains the unique challenges parents may face who are not particularly intuitive themselves. Parents may be shocked and perplexed by their offspring's unusual gifts. She concedes that all people have intuition and sensitivity, but posits that certain children who are born with these traits function at a higher capacity and encounter specific challenges such as feeling responsible for others' emotions or absorbing group stress. While her audience may be somewhat limited, she offers sincere support and practical information to parents searching to aid and more deeply understand their highly intuitive child.

"Raising Freethinkers: A Practical Guide for Parenting Beyond Belief" by Dale McGowan, Molleen Matsumura, Amanda Metskas, and Jan Devor: This book is for those who are interested in rearing children in a family that invites children to make their own decisions in regard to religion. It explains how children can be reared in an indoctrinated-free home that provides an unfiltered access to religious ideas allowing children to question and come to their own conclusions.

"The Self-Esteem Trap: Raising Confident and Compassionate Kids in an Age of Self-Importance" by Polly Young-Eisendrath, PhD: This book points out that children today are either experiencing too little guidance or are overprotected by parents who don't teach their children how to face the consequences of their own dilemmas. The author discusses coping strategies for parents to raise well-balanced children who respect authority and can cope with disappointment. She points out that the current trends of trying to build children's self-esteem with the goal of creating capable, happy children which often produces kids who cannot cope with the smallest frustrations and are often rude, demanding, entitled and self-centered. Ultimately this can lead to a child's diminished self-esteem.

"Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids" by Kim John Payne, M.Ed., with Lisa M. Ross: This book provides an antidote for children who are overscheduled and overwhelmed by too much information in a fast-paced consumer culture that threatens the playful essence of their childhood. Payne claims that a protective filter should surround childhood, rather than the competitive stressful adult world that has encroached on children's boundaries. She believes parents can simplify the children's environment, rhythm, and schedules by filtering out the adult world that ultimately leads to less stressed out and more secure children.

Parenting involves maintaining a delicate balance between protecting children, yet allowing them to grow and form their own responsible opinions and decisions. At the same time, it is important to foster values that will contribute to our culture and planet in a positive manner. This is a difficult venture, but one that parents can certainly strive to achieve.

CHECK IT OUT is written by the staff of the Newport Beach Public Library. All titles may be reserved from home or office computers by accessing the catalog at http://www.newportbeachlibrary.org. For more information on the Central Library or any of the branches, please contact the Newport Beach Public Library at (949) 717-3800, option 2.

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