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Teach Your Children Well: Why Values and Coping Skills Matter More Than Grades, Trophies, or "Fat Envelopes"

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Psychologist Madeline Levine, author of the New York Times bestseller The Price of Privilege, brings together cutting-edge research and thirty years of clinical experience to explode once and for all the myth that good grades, high test scores, and college acceptances should define the parenting endgame. Teach Your Children Well is a toolbox for parents, providing informati Psychologist Madeline Levine, author of the New York Times bestseller The Price of Privilege, brings together cutting-edge research and thirty years of clinical experience to explode once and for all the myth that good grades, high test scores, and college acceptances should define the parenting endgame. Teach Your Children Well is a toolbox for parents, providing information, relevant research and a series of exercises to help parents clarify a definition of success that is in line with their own values as well as their children’s interests and abilities. Teach Your Children Well is a must-read for parents, educators, and therapists looking for tangible tools to help kids thrive in today’s high-stakes, competitive culture.


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Psychologist Madeline Levine, author of the New York Times bestseller The Price of Privilege, brings together cutting-edge research and thirty years of clinical experience to explode once and for all the myth that good grades, high test scores, and college acceptances should define the parenting endgame. Teach Your Children Well is a toolbox for parents, providing informati Psychologist Madeline Levine, author of the New York Times bestseller The Price of Privilege, brings together cutting-edge research and thirty years of clinical experience to explode once and for all the myth that good grades, high test scores, and college acceptances should define the parenting endgame. Teach Your Children Well is a toolbox for parents, providing information, relevant research and a series of exercises to help parents clarify a definition of success that is in line with their own values as well as their children’s interests and abilities. Teach Your Children Well is a must-read for parents, educators, and therapists looking for tangible tools to help kids thrive in today’s high-stakes, competitive culture.

30 review for Teach Your Children Well: Why Values and Coping Skills Matter More Than Grades, Trophies, or "Fat Envelopes"

  1. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    Disclosure: I received this book for advance review through Amazon Vine. I was not required to give a good or bad review but was asked to give my honest opinion of the book. I wish that rather than advertising itself as a book about how to "parent for authentic success," this book was a little more open and upfront about just how specific and relatively small the actual audience for Levine's advice is. The advice in this book will be useless to you if you live in anything other than the elite upp Disclosure: I received this book for advance review through Amazon Vine. I was not required to give a good or bad review but was asked to give my honest opinion of the book. I wish that rather than advertising itself as a book about how to "parent for authentic success," this book was a little more open and upfront about just how specific and relatively small the actual audience for Levine's advice is. The advice in this book will be useless to you if you live in anything other than the elite upper middle class neighborhoods where "Tiger Moms" drive the standards and the public schools are above average. If your child is going to have to get through college on grants and loans and work study, or not go to college at all, you will similarly have no use for it. If you are worried about keeping the basics in your life afloat, juggling childcare and jobs and mortgage and increasing food bills while maintaining some sanity and quality of life, skip this book--it's simply not for you (or me, one of those plain old average Jills). This book is not about parenting, it's about strategy in the increasingly vicious competition that is going on between the children of the upper middle class and the "one percent." So Levine's strategy is unorthodox in that she emphasizes ways to dial the pressure down, but that's still what this book is about. It does promise, after all, that this parenting method will lead to "authentic success." And while that success may mean Sarah Lawrence instead of Harvard, it's still going to mean a ranking private or top public college, a degree that leads to grad school and six figure income, and a big house in a subdivision. To get there, you have to start there, increasingly so in this economy. One key example of how Levine assumes this background for her readers is the laissez-faire attitude about drugs and sexual activity. While it may be easy enough for the well-to-do to get a drug offense dismissed, or sweep a teen pregnancy or STD under the rug, for hard-working members of the working class and lower middle class who are striving to get into a good college and launch a career that takes them up the economic ladder a rung or two, it is can be simply devastating. If mumsy and dadsy don't have the money to make your problems go away, it's simply not something you can afford to risk. Skip this book unless you're the kind of overwrought achievement obsessed upper middle class hyper-parent it is clearly most truly meant to assist.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Connie Kuntz

    "Nobody knows me" is apparently a common complaint among children of all ages. I think the saddest thing any of my kids could ever say to me is "Nobody knows me" or, more to the point, "You don't know me." This book reminded me of how easy it is to lose my kids' trust, and I am thankful for that reminder. And a little scared. There were nice little sentences here and there. "Failure is both inevitable and desirable" was one of them. So was "It takes calm, unhurried time to learn to tune in." And "Nobody knows me" is apparently a common complaint among children of all ages. I think the saddest thing any of my kids could ever say to me is "Nobody knows me" or, more to the point, "You don't know me." This book reminded me of how easy it is to lose my kids' trust, and I am thankful for that reminder. And a little scared. There were nice little sentences here and there. "Failure is both inevitable and desirable" was one of them. So was "It takes calm, unhurried time to learn to tune in." And I liked the reminder to not only raise empathic children, but to be empathic myself. And I like the idea of promoting self- efficacy in academics, relationships, and emotions. I also liked the reminders about persistence and building competence before confidence. But the writing was so dry and so contrived that it was a chore for me to read this book. I take that back. I actually like doing my chores. I felt like this was the reading equivalent of getting a flu shot. In other words this book is a flu shot. It is something that is possibly unnecessary, but is promoted as being one of the best things in the world you can do to protect your child. Let me offer the following sentence as an example of the author's dry, contrived writing: "Unfortunately, parenting doesn't come with a how-to guide." To that I say, "Fascinating, thanks." Also want to mention that the author endorses Odyssey of the Mind. That's fine, but the Odyssey of the Mind website has a big ole endorsement from George W. Bush on it, and if you think my grammar skills are weak, check out what W had to say on the website. I enjoyed this book because I enjoy every book, but the cover photo is so corny that it made me not want to read this book in public. So I didn't. Seriously, who sits around and talks like that? Plus the folksy title doesn't really reflect the author's voice. I would trust the author more if her title was something like "Look, I Have Three Sons and I'm a Doctor So Shut Up and Listen to Me. P.S. Authentic is a Hip Word!" There were two other things that rubbed me the wrong way. (1) The author said childhood isn't the time to prepare for high school or college or professional life or adult life. I disagree. Why is it okay for kids to look forward to driving, wearing makeup, staying up late, sleepovers, television, getting ears pierced, boyfriends, girlfriends, dances, but it is considered borderline criminal if they are introduced to the future concepts of high school, college, politics, the police or fire academy, the army, professional options, etc.. We have been prepping our kids for adulthood since the day they were born. (2) The author recommends playing "Chase." Not only does it burn calories (okaaaay....) but she considers it a very complex social game. We tested her theory on two separate days, and I'm here to tell you that the game of chase is weird. We all kept rolling our ankles and falling down, plus we had to contend with sick feelings of being chased. We tested it again on a second day, and we decided this is not something we enjoy. We all actually enjoy running and racing, which we find mind opening and progressive, but chase? Chase?! Sorry, but I think it's stupid and dangerous. We'll keep trying it though, because she is a doctor, she does have kids of her own, and she uses hip words like authentic. Signed, Don't Chase Me P.S. I read an article on NYTimes.com about this book. The book was praised and glorified in that article. I have got to stop trusting what NYTimes recommends.

  3. 4 out of 5

    K.K. Wootton

    I have a new suggested title for this book: If Your Child Is 96.7% Perfect and You're Sort a Freak, Read This Book for a Few Tips on How to Chill Out, by A Mom Who Did Pretty Much Everything Right (see examples inside). There's some common sense in here, but it's obscured by the fact that the author writes off any kid who has been sleepless or high before the age of 17. If your kid is one of those, it's time to basically check him/her into the psycho ward. She does not address those kids. (ex. page I have a new suggested title for this book: If Your Child Is 96.7% Perfect and You're Sort a Freak, Read This Book for a Few Tips on How to Chill Out, by A Mom Who Did Pretty Much Everything Right (see examples inside). There's some common sense in here, but it's obscured by the fact that the author writes off any kid who has been sleepless or high before the age of 17. If your kid is one of those, it's time to basically check him/her into the psycho ward. She does not address those kids. (ex. page 160) '...having intercourse before age sixteen is associated with a host of problems.' The problems are not discussed. Levine simply goes on to discuss teens who have intercourse at sixteen or later. (ex. page 166) 'A sexually active fourteen-year-old is at risk for a host of behavioral and academic problems; a seventeen-year-old is not. Levine suggests the following script for a youngster contemplating sex, "I think you're unsure about having sex now; if you could hold on a bit longer, then I think things will be a lot clearer to you." Sounds great! (ex. page 155) 'Kids who actively experiment with drugs...whether marijuana, alcohols, cigarettes, or other drugs, before the age of fifteen are at significantly increased risk for both substance abuse and psychological problems.' Levine states that, of course, this dire prediction does not apply to *every child*, and she differentiates between 'active experimentation' and 'occasional use' (without defining either specifically). Levine goes on to talk only about children who fall into the healthy category. The only guidance she gives to parents whose children have sex at fifteen or drink at fourteen is to get professional help. The rest of the sections are dedicated to parents of children who do *not* do these things. For these parents, there are pages of guidelines, anecdotes, etc. The big 'problems' Levine addresses are with kids who tearily confess to their parents that they've had a few people over when the parents were out of town but got help from a neighbor before the cops came. Or kids who got a B one time and were really broken up about it. Etc. Honestly, it seems that this book is for people who do not have actual problems. Perhaps the way the book is best referenced, is as a guide when one has a young child. Maybe if all guidelines are followed, the perfect child will result! If so, this is a magnificent book. The author provides many examples of her own success as a parent. Here are just a couple: (ex. page 210) The author's son, Loren, at age four, has set up a rock stand. With her help, Loren was [talkative and enthusiastic about his product, careful with other people's money, and thanked folks for their interest]. Unlike another child who [works one day at the rock stand then declares his stand 'closed'.] (ex. page 249) 'I was thrilled the first time our oldest son took my husband and me out to dinner and paid with *his own* credit card. Of course, being financially independent is part of being successful...' Also, I have great beef with Levine's core argument that not every kid is 'special'. Yes, every kid is special. Levine just *assumes* that all her readers judge 'special'-ness by GPA. Sad assumption. She talks about the 'average' kid and says we need to think that kid is great, too. But by 'average', she means average as a student. Levine's assumptions are deeply ingrained, yet she seems to be spouting off against them as being the biggest wrong of 21st century parenting.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Audrey

    Sometimes, by serendipity, you end up reading the right book at just the right time. This was the right book for me, right now. I heard Madeline Levine interviewed last year when this book first came out. Based on the interview, I thought it sounded like an interesting but somewhat impersonal overview of what's wrong with our current educational system. And indeed, the book does talk about the disconnect between what and how our schools teach and the kind of people we envision our children becom Sometimes, by serendipity, you end up reading the right book at just the right time. This was the right book for me, right now. I heard Madeline Levine interviewed last year when this book first came out. Based on the interview, I thought it sounded like an interesting but somewhat impersonal overview of what's wrong with our current educational system. And indeed, the book does talk about the disconnect between what and how our schools teach and the kind of people we envision our children becoming. But it's the subtitle, "Parenting for Authentic Success," that really captures the book's essence. I wasn't prepared for how deeply the book would resonate with someone struggling to be a good parent to teenagers. "Teach Your Children Well" is not a self-help book, but reading it certainly gave me new tools to help myself and my children. It contains anecdotes from Levine's 30 years as a therapist working with children and families in the San Francisco Bay area (always comforting to know that you're not alone in your struggles). Most helpful to me were several chapters that illuminated what is going on inside teenagers from a psychological and physiological perspective, as well as a very practical section on defining--and putting into practice--what you value as a family. I'd always thought that the visceral, vivid, and sometimes painful memories of my own adolescence would make me a more empathetic parent when that time came for my own children. It turns out that experiencing someone else's adolescence, especially that of your own child, is radically different than having lived through your own. I'm glad there are guidebooks like this to help parents navigate thoughtfully. Bottom line: If you have a child in the house, of pretty much any age, read this book!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Vlad

    I can't fault the advice in this book. It's excellent. The author summarizes the book nicely in its last chapter: "If there's a heartbeat to this book, it's about the value of self-reflection." "What allows us free choice as a parent, partner, friend, and individual is about having digested our own experiences. Self reflection or introspection is not navel-gazing, it's the challenging task of taking in our history, our life experiences and our feelings, processing them, and integrating them into I can't fault the advice in this book. It's excellent. The author summarizes the book nicely in its last chapter: "If there's a heartbeat to this book, it's about the value of self-reflection." "What allows us free choice as a parent, partner, friend, and individual is about having digested our own experiences. Self reflection or introspection is not navel-gazing, it's the challenging task of taking in our history, our life experiences and our feelings, processing them, and integrating them into a clear and coherent story about our lives. You need to be able to make sense of your own life in order to help your children make sense of theirs." This heartbeat is only audible in the second part of the book. The first part is more direct and full of good advice about how to parent and guide kids.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kirsti

    I don't know much about children or psychology; I just really enjoy this author's writing style. Very clear, practical, simply stated. She is furious that the American educational system is putting so much emphasis on test scores, class rankings, Advanced Placement classes, school rankings, and elite universities. Instead of the system being a race to the top, she says it's a bad fit for kids who aren't that intellectual and puts way too much pressure on the intellectual kids. She urges parents I don't know much about children or psychology; I just really enjoy this author's writing style. Very clear, practical, simply stated. She is furious that the American educational system is putting so much emphasis on test scores, class rankings, Advanced Placement classes, school rankings, and elite universities. Instead of the system being a race to the top, she says it's a bad fit for kids who aren't that intellectual and puts way too much pressure on the intellectual kids. She urges parents to sign their kids up for fewer activities and avoid "specializing" in one sport or instrument. Oh, and fire the tutors in most cases--they sometimes turn children into hothouse flowers who can thrive only with one-on-one attention.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    A good summation of positive parenting techniques, mostly focused on the definition of "success" and "failure." Instead of the relentless focus on academic success that drives some kids to stressed, sleep-deficient, self-harming states, Dr. Levine encourages parents to recognize that "in the real world, success has all kinds of different faces." And instead of seeing our work as parents as "crisis intervention," she advocates a paradigm shift to refocus on "our most important job--to provide a c A good summation of positive parenting techniques, mostly focused on the definition of "success" and "failure." Instead of the relentless focus on academic success that drives some kids to stressed, sleep-deficient, self-harming states, Dr. Levine encourages parents to recognize that "in the real world, success has all kinds of different faces." And instead of seeing our work as parents as "crisis intervention," she advocates a paradigm shift to refocus on "our most important job--to provide a calm, secure, and loving haven for our children as they go about the challenging business of growing up." As soft and fuzzy as this sounds, it doesn't mean coddling or "helicopter parenting" or building your entire world around your children; rather it means finding the right balance of oversight and freedom at each stage of your child's development. It means seeing your child for who s/he is, with his/her attendant strengths and weaknesses, rather than those you project on them because of your past experiences, current desires or future dreams. It means developing "warm, supportive relationships" with them so they are more "open to advice and guidance" from you. The book separates kids into three categories by age, roughly equivalent to elementary, middle and high school. I'll admit that with a 10-, 6-, and 3-year-old, I read the elementary section most intently, though some of the pointers for middle-school-aged kids are already starting to be pertinent with my 10-year-old. I mostly skimmed the high school section. Dr. Levine breaks each section down into important skills or qualities for children to develop and ends each section with "How Parents Can Help," providing several specific, actionable points. Don't trivialize difficulties. Help your child find and develop 'islands of competence.' Stay curious with your child. Encourage questions. Value academic risk taking. Point out the effects of your child's behavior on others. None of the advice is really new - I've read lots of parenting books and I've encountered most of these ideas multiple times - but I appreciate how Dr. Levine packages and presents the information. Frankly, the middle-school section scared me a bit. Statements like this one: "Our system of education for this age group is largely a misery and the middle schoolers' well-documented needs for adequate sleep, flexible study time, multiple breaks, and quiet, restorative time are ignored. Add to this a stew of hormonal and brain changes. Mix in difficult issues like sex, drugs, and academic pressure, issues that were previously reserved for high school students with more coping skills. And don't forget that researchers have documented a host of negative effects simply from the transition into middle school, including lowered achievement, destabilized social relationships, and reduced self-esteem." Eeek. Or "It is actually parents, rather than teens, whose mental health is most negatively affected during the early adolescent years. Moms in particular bear the brunt of their teens' irritability." Lovely... In the third part of the book, Dr. Levine discusses what she calls the "resilience factor" which includes seven essential coping skills kids should learn in order to be successful in life: resourcefulness, enthusiasm, creativity, a good work ethic, self-control, self-esteem, and self-efficacy. I found this section to be particularly helpful and full of practical suggestions, both "do"s and "don't"s. The final section contains some exercises to help you and your family identify your core values and guiding principles, and to create a family action plan. It ends with the encouragement that "We are never 'finished' products" and that with self-reflection, we can identify and choose to change behaviors that are not helpful for us or our children. For more book reviews, come visit my blog, Build Enough Bookshelves.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Margaret

    I picked this book up at the library after hearing the author speak on an NPR talk show. As I read the introduction I thought, "Hmm, maybe I should buy this book, it seems like something I'll want to read more than once." But I waited to see how it went before making a commitment to it. The premise of the book is that there is more to success than high grades and "fat envelopes" which I assume to mean acceptance packages from elite universities. I didn't need any convincing on that, but I wanted I picked this book up at the library after hearing the author speak on an NPR talk show. As I read the introduction I thought, "Hmm, maybe I should buy this book, it seems like something I'll want to read more than once." But I waited to see how it went before making a commitment to it. The premise of the book is that there is more to success than high grades and "fat envelopes" which I assume to mean acceptance packages from elite universities. I didn't need any convincing on that, but I wanted to read a book with that perspective, since it seems sometimes that I am surrounded by people will high-achieving children bound for academic (and financial) greatness. Ive been bothered by parents' insistence on rigorous STEM education, for example, for their kids regardless of the child's interest in and aptitude for it. After the introduction, there is a discussion of the developmental stages in kids' lives: elementary, middle, and high school ages. I skipped the elementary school section since I am out of that. I found the middle school section to be pretty accurate. But then I got to high school. The author's attitude toward teen sexuality stunned me. As in, sex seems to be nothing more than a pastime to be enjoyed (responsibly, of course) by teens ages 16 and above. There was no mention of love or committed relationships; I think the word the author used was "affection" in describing teen sexual relationships. I nearly stopped reading the book at that point; I didn't want to go on when I have an area of strong disagreement. But I carried on anyway. After the age/grade sections, the author goes on to discuss skills and attributes kids need to be given/taught to be successful. These are qualities such as resilience, creativity, work ethic... nothing to argue with there. Each section has a do/don't list for parents to guide them in helping their kids. Mostly the advice is good though there's nothing I've not read or otherwise come across before. I do have two other disagreements about the book, though. One is the near-absolute absence of God, religion, spirituality in the book. I think "religious practices" gets a nod as something that might be important to some families, and "religion" appears in a list of life priorities for the parents to rank. I get it that this is a secular book, not written from a religious perspective. But it seems odd to leave the religious/spiritual aspect out completely. And, I was surprised that the book contained no reference to homeschooling at all. Again, I get it that homeschoolers are not the target audience, and that we are a minority in the US. But when talking about school problems, school reforms, etc., it seems odd not to mention (at least) an educational segment that is growing each year. Three stars is a bit higher than I'd like to rank the book. I'm not going to buy it and I'm not likely to need to read it again. Two stars seemed too low because much of the advice is sound. 2.5 stars would have been more accurate.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Histteach24

    I thoroughly enjoy her books as both a parent and an educator. I have been saying much of what she did for the last decade of teaching.Too many kids are going to college who should not be college bound. Instead they need to be encouraged to go into other fields-trades, etc. instead the stigma has been placed that everyone needs to go to college, it has become a competition among parents. My own son just recently graduated from high school. The first question I get is where is he going to college I thoroughly enjoy her books as both a parent and an educator. I have been saying much of what she did for the last decade of teaching.Too many kids are going to college who should not be college bound. Instead they need to be encouraged to go into other fields-trades, etc. instead the stigma has been placed that everyone needs to go to college, it has become a competition among parents. My own son just recently graduated from high school. The first question I get is where is he going to college. No one asks if he is going, they just assume. When I tell them he isn't, that I told him he needs to work and figure out what he wants to do instead of wasting money, people get uncomfortable as if they don't know where to proceed with the conversation. As a teacher I've been seeing more and more issues with grade grubbing and cheating because of the pressures put on students as well as parents insisting their children are all gifted when clearly they are not. I feel like I need to hang a big sign in my room saying "You are not special" just to get kids back down to ground level so they can feel comfortable finding their strengths and working on their weaknesses without the pressures of having to be above average in everything. The only criticism I have with the book was I felt the author is all too ready to blame the education system. Even as an educator, I agree the system needs to be changed to have students explore career paths and various fields. Trust me all educators I know feel this way. But the bottom line is no one listens to the teachers, instead the taxpayers push for what they feel makes them and their child appear more gifted. Trades, arts, etc are no longer valued by communities and are getting pushed out of school budgets. When parents are in a competition and their children are the game pieces, the children suffer. Also, testing and new evaluation systems are zapping creativity from the hands of innovative teachers. I agree that more creativity and learning through exploration needs to be an every day way of learning, but you have to empower and professionally trust educators to do what they do best-teach. Pitting them against each other because of the new evaluations only creates undesirable competition in a field that thrives under collaboration. Rating teachers on standardized test performance forces the classroom to become teaching to a test while learning absolutely nothing children really need to be successful.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Corina Murafa

    It’s a very useful reading for any parent, particularly for parents with children aged toddler and upwards and definitely indispensable for parents of preteens and teens. It challenges our contemporary competition-driven worldview and guides us in going back to the basics of success: being in tune with yourself, focused on well-being, empathic, resilient and with a healthy dose of self-efficacy. Could be easily transformed into a cheat sheet, as it’s very well-structured. I appreciated the pract It’s a very useful reading for any parent, particularly for parents with children aged toddler and upwards and definitely indispensable for parents of preteens and teens. It challenges our contemporary competition-driven worldview and guides us in going back to the basics of success: being in tune with yourself, focused on well-being, empathic, resilient and with a healthy dose of self-efficacy. Could be easily transformed into a cheat sheet, as it’s very well-structured. I appreciated the practical examples, whether hypothethical or from the author’s clinical practice. Despite being written in particular from an American context, it’s a good read for parents everywhere.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kerry

    i do not have kids, but hear me out as to why this is a good book for us all: if you think of parenting as "running another person's life," then can't we all benefit from parenting books because they're about how to run lives? And by extension, they're about how to run "our own lives"? Exactly. What I took away from this book is that we should all reward ourselves (and/or our kids) for progress, grit, and soft skills and chill out about achievement and extrinsic rewards.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Not as good as Ms.Levine's "The Price of Priviledge", which I consider essential reading for the parents of any middle/high schoolers, but still a good book for guiding parents in how to nurture and create healthy expectations for their children as they grow up.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Lil

    Excellent read on parenting kids that become competent adults.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kira

    Provides a good perspective of pressure on suburban, upper middle-class kids and the negative affects that come with such demands.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Michael Simon

    "Teach Your Children Well" is in many ways an extension of the work and insights Levine shared with us in "The Price of Privilege." She has sometimes been criticized for blaming parents or putting too much responsibility on them to solve the problems highlighted by the kids in her practice and I wonder if this volume will do much to lessen that criticism. For those of you don't want to read the whole diatribe here, you might want to take a look especially at Chapter 7 ("Protecting the Wish to Lea "Teach Your Children Well" is in many ways an extension of the work and insights Levine shared with us in "The Price of Privilege." She has sometimes been criticized for blaming parents or putting too much responsibility on them to solve the problems highlighted by the kids in her practice and I wonder if this volume will do much to lessen that criticism. For those of you don't want to read the whole diatribe here, you might want to take a look especially at Chapter 7 ("Protecting the Wish to Learn") of my recent work, The Approximate Parent: Discovering the Strategies That Work with Your Teenager (Fine Optics Press, 2012), which provides a much fuller answer. Here's the spoiler: Dr. Levine's work profiling the independent school world doesn't make her work less applicable. The private school world (complexly) illustrates an intensification of the pressures that all American students are facing; it's not that it solely reflects the problems of a privileged class of students and families, struggling with the ironic consequences of their own "successes.' Race to Nowhere, Price of Privilege and Madeline's latest work do all cover the same (stomping) grounds in Marin. Dr. Levine's message is one for which I have a lot of sympathy. I consult with some of the same schools attended by the teens and families she's addressing in Teach Your Children Well. But her earlier work (and this one, no doubt) will be criticized for not using a large enough sample from which to draw her conclusions. The rareified air of the private/independent school world is indeed a pressure cooker, regardless of geographic location in the United States. But I'm concerned that Madeline's latest work will revive the same charge that the "faux crisis” of style over substance—“doing” school, rather than learning in school (a la Denise Pope)—must be solely about the independent (private) school world of privileged spoiled white children in America. Maybe it’s the “rich kids” in private schools that are having more intense identity problems—feeling empty or not knowing quite what they love (and not having the time to find out), or having a hard time really committing to something outside themselves that isn’t for the purpose of a résumé. Maybe it’s the more privileged kids from affluent families that Levine profiles in both of her books that truly are having higher (skyrocketing) rates of depression and anxiety disorders and “crashing” during their first year away at college, unable to negotiate pressures and tasks that require the kind of autonomy they are often prevented (or stifled) from developing by being overindulged—getting so much, so easily, so soon. Most of the studies on the state of education in America demonstrate, though, that that teens from affluent households just have different debilitating stresses and impediments to learning than their counterparts from less affluent families. But I assume most parents want to protect a child’s wish and will to learn, whether the family has enough money to live on or more money than they know what to do with. The issue at stake, though, is to figure out what your teenager’s barriers to learning are, so that you’re in a better position to choose the strategies that positively foster his or her development. Levine's work will primarily help parents in similar sociopolitical locations understand more how to respond to the challenges raised by narrow notions of success in America. But that isn't where we should drop consideration of her message(s). The private school world serves only 10 percent of the nation’s students, and clearly has some privilege and advantage over the public school world that most American students attend. But it’s important to note that when considering achievement levels, there were no academic subjects reviewed in which even private school students rated much higher than 50 percent proficiency. Only half of American private school students rate near the “proficient” (or above) level of achievement and only 30 percent of public school students rate “proficient” (or above). Here’s what you are more likely to get, though, if you’re in the 90 percent of American children who attend a public school: 1) Double the risk of being victimized at or on the way to or from school; 2) Five times the risk of being threatened with harm at or on the way to or from school; 3) Double the risk of being a target of hate speech at or on the way to or from school; 4) Six times the risk of encountering a gang at or on the way to or from school; 5) Four times the risk of having to avoid certain places at school, for safety reasons. According to the latest U.S. Census figures, compiled in 2010, of the roughly 16.6 million high school students, two public school students drop out of school every minute. If your child drops out of school, he or she is eight times more likely to end up in prison, half as likely to vote, and is unqualified for most jobs. Almost 70 percent of 8th graders can’t read at grade level, and 1 in 6 students is coming from a school district in a “high poverty” area. If your child is coming from this kind of school, he or she is almost 25 percent less likely to go to college, which means only earning 40 cents for each dollar earned by a college graduate. Most of the data suggest that there are, in fact, jobs available in America, despite the Great Recession. However, there are millions of jobs available for which recent college graduates are not qualified. Current unemployment rates are almost four times higher for high school dropouts and two times higher for those who didn’t graduate from college. In terms of academic achievement, eight years after the ink dried on the No Child Left Behind Act, the United States ranked as the 25th country in math, 21st in science, and 17th in the world in reading. The point here is that both the private and public school worlds are filled with children and teens struggling with the choices we're making (or not making) as a nation. Levine's new work is an important one. But if the takeaway message is that her sample is too small or not generalizable, its an inaccurate or misguided criticism. If the takeaway message is that its all on parents to solve this problem, that, too, would be inaccurate and misguided. Like most ineffective debates on education in America, solutions do not have to come from one or another place; they can and must come from everywhere. Levine argues that parents are often faster to implement solutions than larger entities like local, state or federal governments. That may be true, but parental actions aren't occurring in a vacuum. Family and local-level action will eventually come up against public institutions and policies that may limit, oppose or enhance their efforts. It's not and cannot be all on our parents to change the situation, because this is politically naive and usually only leads to parents feeling more burdened, overwhelmed and guilty than they already feel when confronted with the enormous difficulties of raising children. The personal difficulties Levine has raised in her two books are always political. And they're not just about the 1%. Our children are the proverbial canaries in the coalmine. When some of our kids are hurting, we should want to pay attention to all of our kids...and ourselves. The Approximate Parent: Discovering the Strategies that Work for Your Teenager

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    Overheard at the beach this morning Kid: "I don't want to play soccer anymore. I don't like it" Mom: "Well you're playing soccer so learn to like it!" My heart breaks for this kid and for this Mom. The fact is that our system is broken and it's hurting our kids. But our fear of losing out, our fear that our kids won't be able to get ahead, is keeping us from just breaking the system and replacing it with a new one. We deny that it's a problem. We over-schedule with activities and overemphasize the Overheard at the beach this morning Kid: "I don't want to play soccer anymore. I don't like it" Mom: "Well you're playing soccer so learn to like it!" My heart breaks for this kid and for this Mom. The fact is that our system is broken and it's hurting our kids. But our fear of losing out, our fear that our kids won't be able to get ahead, is keeping us from just breaking the system and replacing it with a new one. We deny that it's a problem. We over-schedule with activities and overemphasize the wrong measures of success. We are overly fixated on "special" and "extraordinary" which denies the reality that most kids (and most of us) are average. We deny that success is available to ALL. OF. US. and not just a elite few. Because that is true. We can all be successful. We just have to acknowledge that success looks very different for different people. We are ignoring the most important skills that we need to teach our kids to be capable and healthy adults (resilience, self awareness, flexibility and empathy) and instead we are propping them up for "success" (grades, activities, elite schools, money) which actually harms them. This book should be required reading for all parents. It is empathetic, well researched and supportive of both parents and children.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Bryan

    For most of this book I was prepared to give it a two star rating. It isn't the type of book based on rigorous scientific data that I prefer; rather it is based on the author's experience with patients at her clinical psychology practice. It also seemed to be full of generic, wishy-washy "try to do this," "try not to do that," and "parenting is hard" advice. Finally, it seemed to assume that the reader was a mother, not a father, a personal pet peeve of mine. Then, in the final two chapters, it r For most of this book I was prepared to give it a two star rating. It isn't the type of book based on rigorous scientific data that I prefer; rather it is based on the author's experience with patients at her clinical psychology practice. It also seemed to be full of generic, wishy-washy "try to do this," "try not to do that," and "parenting is hard" advice. Finally, it seemed to assume that the reader was a mother, not a father, a personal pet peeve of mine. Then, in the final two chapters, it really righted the ship, providing a framework for thinking of the core values you want to impart to your child, how to prioritize them, and how to [try to] raise a child with those values. If more of the book had been like that, it would have been at least four stars for me. Overall I still find it a worthwhile read but my suggestion would be to skim most of the book until you get to the meat at the end.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

    I really did appreciate Levine’s take on raising children who are all around well adjusted in the world rather than just academically successful. I have to admit, though, that I didn’t fully agree with her approaches on teenage drug use and sex. My personal beliefs in those matters are grounded in my religious views and cannot condone some of what was addressed in the book. But overall, the principles that she discussed were very enlightening.

  19. 4 out of 5

    North Landesman

    Levine offers some excellent advice here. To quote a co-worker, I found myself nodding often. It was nice to have someone agree with me fully. Yet, that may be the problem here. Yes, we all want to raise kind, resilient, enthusiastic children. Yes, we need to be loving, give them space, and set firm limits. What here is new? Who does this help?

  20. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Currie

    Excellent book on values and coping skills and why they are so necessary. Provides really good information on how to bring these things into your parenting. Also gives great story examples of how getting caught up in the race to the top and materialism harms our relationships with our children and hurts them in life.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Robin

    I really enjoyed this easy-to-read parenting book. It's amazing how CHILDREN haven't changed... but our society has. This book gives great tips and well-thought advice. I highly recommend it for the parent who needs to stop over-scheduling their child.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

    Overall, this book seemed like a summary of research I had heard or read elsewhere. It's not bad, just not anything new. I was hoping to hear some new angle or perspective. The idea that 'parenthood development' should occur alongside 'childhood development' was an interesting choice of words.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jena

    One of the best books I've read in a long time. Solid research, no platitudes, straight forward and actionable. I really appreciate this book and think it will be worth going back to at different stages

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ainsley Grace Mowat

    This is a must-read for parents of teens. I feel like I get my daughter now, and I see my role more clearly at this stage of her life.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Janice

    This book was worth reading. I especially value it as a reference book, to consult when your children are certain ages. like in middle school, for greater insights.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    Most useful part was the last few chapters

  27. 5 out of 5

    Robinson

    Buyer beware Don't bother buying this version unless you own a device that begins with i, as the enhancements won't work on anything else.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jenny Chin

    worth reading some very good ideas we do need to teach our children valves and not only shooting for the grades and the rewards

  29. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    Some good advice, clearly aimed at upper middle class or higher

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kiki

    Great read for parents!

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