Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Fresh reviews - Growing great families

I'm a big fan of Ian and Mary Grant, the founders of Parents Inc. I've read several of their books, watched a number of Parents Inc webinars, and am partway through a six-week Early Years Toolbox course, which I'm also training to be a facilitator for in the future.

It was my sister-in-law, Kim, who first put me onto Parents Inc. She's the type of parent I aspire to be, and credits a lot of that to the things she's learned through Parents Inc.

So when Random House offered me the chance to review Ian and Mary Grant's latest parenting book, Growing Great Families, I jumped at it.

The Parents Inc motto is "Family is everything", so it's no surprise that Growing Great Families is full of practical advice for setting a positive culture in your family.

Ian and Mary believe that anyone can be a great parent, with the right tools - and they aim to give you many of those tools in Growing Great Families.

They write that to grow a great family, you need to have a strong vision of the family you want to build; one where children "know the security of a family operating as a team and receive joy in their everyday experience of being contributors, not just takers."

If you've ever read my "About" blurb here on Craving Fresh, you'll know I aim to send my daughters out into the world confident in who God has made them, and full of love and compassion for the people they meet. That's my mission statement, if you will, and I've picked up many tips for achieving this goal through what I've read in Growing Great Families.

In the book Ian and Mary walk you through the stages - from newborn to teenager - offering stories to inspire and actions to take so parents can raise the types of children this world needs more of.

Five of my favourite tips from Growing Great Families
  1. Be crazy about your children. Welcome them warmly when they come home. Let them see your eyes light up when they enter a room. Play with them. Celebrate their successes.
  2. Empathise with your children. Let them know their feelings are heard, you can even reflect a baby's sad or happy face back to him/her. Instead of trying to jolly children out of their tears, give them words to describe what they're feeling, eg, "It can be frustrating trying to do something new for the first time." 
  3. Eat dinner together as a family. Do this without distractions and make it a special time to talk, celebrate successes and have fun. Growing Great Families has lots of tips for getting the conversation flowing and finding out what your kids think about various topics. 
  4. Use stories to inspire. There are many wonderful books out there with stories of heroism, courage, honesty, compassion, etc, that will inspire your kids to be like the heroes those stories model.
  5. Give children age-appropriate choices. When they're little ask this or that questions, eg. "Would you like to wear the blue hat or the red one?" I've found this to be a great way to encourage Lily's cooperation while giving her a sense of control over her world, ie. she still wears a hat, but she's chosen which hat to wear. 
Growing Great Families is available to buy at all major New Zealand book stores, and you can also order it online through the Parenting Place, where it's currently on special for NZ$35.00 instead of NZ$39.90.

Disclosure: Random House sent me a copy of Growing Great Families to review. I have not been compensated in any way and all opinions stated are my own.

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