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Book review: Raising Human Beings

Raising Human Beings: Creating a Collaborative Partnership with your Child
Dr. Ross Greene
Scribner, 2016

There are times when I fervently wish that all human beings were raised to understand the value of empathy, cooperation, and collaboration. This is one of those times.

I’ve been meaning to write a review of Raising Human Beings: Creating a Collaborative Partnership with your Child by Dr. Ross Greene ever since it came out. Uncharacteristically, I bought this book in hardcover. Perhaps that’s because when my younger child was 10, I believe that I joined with a zeitgeist of parents around the country who willed Raising Human Beings into reality. Collectively, we had read Greene’s The Explosive Child because we had a child of that description, then realized that it was also the perfect manual for raising any human being, explosive or otherwise.

Dr. Greene apparently heard our collective cry for a book aimed at all parents outlining his approach, which so improved the lives of families trying to raise difficult children. He heard us, and Raising Human Beings was born.

Greene starts from a place of simple logic: All children want to do well if they can. As much as we want to impute devious motives to our misbehaving children, they are misbehaving not because they want to

Drive

   Us

     Out

        Of

            Our

                  Minds,
but because they simply need something. Sometimes they have no idea what they need. Sometimes they think they need something completely different than what they really need. But they have a need nonetheless.

Greene’s approach is to teach parents to work with their little human beings starting not from an assumption of misbehavior, but from a place of empathy and compassion. Our little human beings are works in progress. They need our guidance to learn how to work within this complicated, confusing world. As parents, it’s our job to raise our children, not to beat them down or lord over them.

All of us want to raise the best human beings we can, but many of us fall back on the flawed reasoning that informed previous generations of parents. Dr. Greene calls this Plan A, and he understands why you use it. It’s quick, dirty, and seems (sometimes) effective. It feels good to say “because I said so.” Getting angry can be cathartic.

But Plan A isn’t what our kids need in this world. We live in a Plan B world. In this world, you’ll do best if you know how to figure out what other people need, understand your own needs, and learn to collaborate so everyone gets their needs met as well as possible.

Plan B is complicated, slow, and frustrating. I would venture to predict that most parents actually give up on it somewhere before actual full realization of the approach (I certainly did). But I feel very confident that all families will benefit from however much of this approach you can implement in your particular family situation.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough. If you have a particularly tough nut to crack, get The Explosive Child instead or in addition. It will improve your lives, and you will send out into the world healthy human beings who understand the value of empathy, cooperation, and collaboration.

And we could all use a few more of those around.

Posted in Books, Parenting.

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