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We Generation: Raising Socially Responsible Kids Paperback – Jan 13 2009
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Praise for Michael Ungar:
"Too Safe for Their Own Good offers us fresh, powerful and deeply relevant ideas about the developmental needs of teenagers. Ungar’s thought-provoking book is both wise and practical. All of us parents, therapists and educators who work with adolescents will benefit from his ideas on what teenagers require for optimal growth. This is a paradigm-shifting book." — Mary Pipher, author of Reviving Ophelia
About the Author
An internationally recognized expert on resilience in youth, Michael Ungar runs a private practice specializing in working with children and adults in mental health and correctional settings, and is a professor at the School of Social Work at Dalhousie University. He lives in Halifax with his wife and two children.See all Product Description
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
We generation Despite the affront one might feel when first reading his book, he quickly turns a hopeful eye to the next generation who are more aware of social, economic and environmental issues than their parents. I would argue it is always the case that the 'next generation' inherits new chances and new issues (ours were imminent nuclear war and the battle for superpower status). As I said to my husband the other day, our children will teach us things we could never imagine. It is our job to raise them to be better than we are.
Ungar's background as a family therapist shines through the real-life stories he tells. Take Richard, the boy whose development was hindered because he was rarely hugged. Or Grant whose heartless father put his dog in the pound before moving his new wife and baby to the Middle East. I found myself tearing up in numerous places throughout the book as the weight of responsibility mixed with a hope to 'do it better for the kids' waved over me.
Some important takeaways from the book include:
* The importance of touch ~ hug your kids, but don't hover.
* Kindness is learned. When you show kindness to strangers, they will, too.
* Talk less. Listen more. Use eye contact when communicating with your child.
* Teach responsibility. Let your child know s/he is a wanted part of the family, that they matter and that they are a part of the team. When they slack off, everyone suffers.
* Understand what's possible. Ungar lists the developmental stages of a child's understanding. I found it enormously helpful, for instance, to know my ten-year-old's 'enlightened self-interest' when it comes to helping around the house is completely normal!
Michael Ungar's book is like a prosey hug. He clearly walks his talk with an authentic voice, one by which we would do well to abide.
Christine Louise Hohlbaum is a lifestyle expert and author of various books including The Power of Slow: 101 Ways to Save Time in Our 24/7 World.
What many parents don't recognize is that they themselves are the very cause of their alienated children. They do not model a WE attitude with their kids. Parents are often so busy with their careers, their social network, the intricacies of their personal lives, that they assume their offspring will grow into mature adults just because they should--after all, their children live in a nice home, have few material needs if any, and attend good schools.
But having few material wants does not replace the want for genuine interaction within a family where both children and parents show compassion for each other's welfare. Children are adaptable. When they feel their thoughts and feelings are not important; their "past, present, and future," is of little consequence; their achievements, however small, are not recognized; they will gang together where all those things do count. It is often in a gang setting that the we, we, we, discussed in The We Generation is confirmed.
Unger stresses that "Compassion, connection, responsibility, citizenship" are part of the security cycle which must begin at home. Security to a child means she feels parents are genuinely concerned for her welfare. If a mother enters a room too preoccupied to notice her daughter's raised hands indicating "Hold me," at her own level, that tiny tot doubts her mother's feelings for her. In her own infant way, she experiences no "touch" connection. There is no smiling face or warm huggie to greet her.
The The We Generation explains how teens feel this security, or lack of it, in a different way. A father walks through the dining area. His teen son is gluing together a wooden model airplane. He waits for words of praise. Pop takes his golf clubs and leaves--maybe says a short "Nice job, son." This dad has missed a grand opportunity.
He could have walked to the table, sat down, and watched his son. He might have asked to hold the model. Then, without criticizing his son's attempts, this father could have offered sincere praise while placing his hand on his son's shoulder. He might even ask, "When I get home this evening, will you let me help paint it?" Or, "Let's go out tomorrow and get an engine for that thing." This son is secure knowing he is cared about, and loved, and touched.
Kids mirror what they see adults doing. If a teen daughter consistently sees her father speeding, how can he hold her responsible for back-talk when she speeds, or when she comes home with speeding tickets. What's more, if he blows his top because of the cost of the ticket, not because she was speeding, he is only reinforcing irresponsibility and poor citizenship.
In short, The We Generation is a good read for both parents and children. By using some of the book's countless techniques for reconnecting with their offspring, children will recognize parental attempts to convert a me, me, me, attitude to a WE family affirmation. When both parents and teens read the book, teens can begin to understand that their folks are not old fogies at heart. At least now, they are trying to change their own attitudes which drove their kids to seek love and security away from home.
I would recommend this book to adults raising small children so they can immediately start to build security into their family interactions. I would hope parents of older teens would purchase several copies so all can read The We Generation at the same time and discuss it. As the book says, "Parents count more than ever." Let's re-create our children.
Other significant books on the subject:
Parents Do Make a Difference: How to Raise Kids with Solid Character, Strong Minds, and Caring Hearts (The Jossey-Bass Psychology Series)
Blessing Your Children: How You Can Love the Kids in Your Life
Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers
Take Back Your Family: How to Raise Respectful and Loving Kids in a Dysfunctional World
The author occasionally feels the need to poke at Christian excesses. For example on p. 153 he informs us of being "stunned" at the realease of violent "Christian" videogame, and on p. 180 he condems China and "evengelical communities that promote hatred under the gouise..."----an interesting juxtaposition: Chinese authoritians and Christian "evangelicals that promote hatred".
Chapter five contains discussion of religious and spiritual life principals. Jesus is portrayed as one profit amoung many. This is a position of many people but it at least deserves the author's note that he is denying an essential claim of the Christian faith tradition. On the other hand the author is happy to quote Buddhists and Aboriginals positively pp. 151 159, in contrast to the observation above and in the absense of any quotes in the book from Jesus or reputable Christians of today or historically.
Some readers may agree with the author's discussion of religion, with his point p 156, that "It's hard to imagine a single version of the 'truth', when the divine is honored in so many compelling ways", as he lumps together the practices of Christians, Muslums, Jews, Aboriginal spirituality, Wiccans and Mormons. While such may be hard for the author to imagine, his alternative "all roads" idea may not be agreeable to many readers.
The author provides many worthwhile parental insights. As a prospective reader reviews the book's covers and title she/he has little reason to be forewarned that at times the author breakes forth with his opinions regarding religious faith. That said, and his opinions fore warned, the overall material covered is very interesting and insightful.