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by Piero Ferrucci
Warner Books, 2001
Review by Elizabeth Batt on Jan 31st 2002

What Our Children Teach UsParents often possess an Achilles heel when approached with advice or suggestions on how to raise their children. Piero Ferucci's What Our Children Teach Us - Lessons on Joy, Love, and Awareness often feels like life in a goldfish bowl. But, despite the initial desire to contradict the author's statements, you'll discover yourself nodding in agreement, acknowledging a valid point and smiling in understanding.

Ferruci asks us to consider what our children could teach us if we only took the time to listen, to guide rather than dictate, to love unconditionally. He does this in a clear concise manner that is inoffensive and remarkably thought provoking. He presents his ideas by citing and utilizing his own experience with parenthood while offering examples of his own children that are difficult to dispute. As a parent you'll sympathize and even recognize his case in point, simply because you've experienced it as well.

Ferruci introduces us to his two children, Emelio and Jonathan and openly shares various and often-humorous stages of their lives. As his experiences develop, his sense of awareness develops along with it as he finds himself battling between the standard expectations of parenting and a more liberating, lenient approach. In its simplest form, "should be" replaces "could be" as he attempts to emphasize that our actions as parents can evolve into a positive experience for both parent and child, if we can see beyond the restraints of society.

Forming expectations of our children is a natural parental response and is one of the key themes of Ferruci's book. Evident throughout, the author explains how we often guide our children towards what we expect of them, rather than allowing them to become an individual with their own ideas and thought processes -- "A character trait or habit is not delivered to us in a package. It reaches us by contagion." (p. 34).

While Ferruci advocates a change in parenting, he is far from dictatorial. He admits that perfectionism isn't possible and his own experiences reveal a learning process of trial and error that leads us to acceptance rather than drastic change. Instead of trying to control our children, Ferruci urges that we guide them. It is through this guidance he suggests, that we will in turn learn from our children. In essence, if we seek to accept rather than control and understand rather than change, then we'll be far more accepting of society a whole.

The author seems at times to set a daunting task but accepts that giving isn't always easy. While you understand him you also wonder where he gets his patience, for we are asked to thwart society and its conformities and to give with good grace and few half measures. It would take a courageous soul to completely snub society and unless society changes simultaneously, you cannot help but question whether you'd really be preparing your children suitably for life at its most severe. Still, Ferruci tackles the role of pioneer remarkably well. He makes you think, and change often begins with one idea or thought.

© 2002 Elizabeth Batt

Elizabeth Batt is the Managing Editor for Ancient and European history at Suite101.com. Her Website, Kids British History.com, presents history to children in a clear and light-hearted manner. She lives in Montana, with her three children, one dog, one cat and two horses where she is hard at work on a historical fiction book for children.