Parenting by Design, published by ArtScroll as part of its Pocket Scroll series of easily portable books, is a small tome with a big message.
Unlike some books that discuss philosophies of childrearing or offer sweeping generalizations, Parenting by Design is straightforward and practical.
Rabbi Kleinman teaches parents how to categorize an interaction with a child quickly, figure out an appropriate immediate response, and plan a long-term strategy to address the issue.
Throughout the book, he offers examples that most parents will recognize. He presents us with a fictitious family — parents and several young children, each with his or her own issues — and walks us through how the parents apply the 5-Level method to each of the children’s various problems, changing their approach to reflect the changes in their children.
The method is fairly easy to understand and practice. The chapters include worksheets for parents to apply the 5-Level method to the specific concerns they may have regarding their own children.
After spending some time teaching the method, the book then addresses specific topics, such as teaching truthfulness and dealing with the inflexible child. Perhaps one of the most important chapters is the one in which Rabbi Kleinman shows how parents can use the method on themselves, to deal with their anger.
Some readers may initially balk. Faced with overwhelming pressures of work, housekeeping chores, making Shabbos and Yom Tov, tackling laundry, paying bills, fielding kids’ arguments and trying desperately to get their offspring to behave or go to bed, parents may wonder where in the world they’re supposed to find the time to learn the method and plan their strategies. But Rabbi Kleinman’s examples clearly show how the initial investment is likely to pay off, with a family that runs more smoothly with a lot less stress and more joy.
As the book’s tagline says, it is aimed at parents of young children. What even a parent of older children can take away from Parenting by Design is the reminder of just how mindful, thoughtful and deliberate parenting must be. There is no instant, just-add-water method of raising happy, functional, emotionally well-adjusted children who will be a source of nachas.
The method will work only when parents — ideally, two of them working together to develop a strategic plan — take the time to reflect on a child’s issues and develop tailor-made protocols for both the short and long term. In other words, parenting by coasting along, or winging it, probably isn’t going to work that well.
It takes parenting by design.
Fortunately, Rabbi Klein is there to provide parents with the blueprint and the tools.
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Published by ArtScroll.
We received a review copy from the publisher.