Mike's Reviews > The Parents We Mean To Be: How Well-Intentioned Adults Undermine Children's Moral and Emotional Development

The Parents We Mean To Be by Richard Weissbourd
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's review
Mar 21, 09

bookshelves: character-education, parenting
Read in March, 2009

This is a nice new (i.e. publ'd in 2009) contribution to the literature on parenting, moral and ethical development, social-emotional development, and/or even character development.

This genre includes better-known titles like Wendy Mogel's seminal Blessings of a Skinned Knee and others. But Wiessbourd's contribution should be able to hang in there and stand the test of time with the best of 'em.

I can see us using it as a parent education text or prompt in my school. It's very readable, not too long, and includes some powerful, pithy, memorable turns of phrase to help keep one (me? you? us?) reading....

Despite it's fairly niche-oriented, laser-like book title, Harvard psychologist Richard Weissbourd's The Parents We Mean To Be isn't just for parents' eyes only. Rather, its subtitle aptly points toward a broader relevant audience for his important insights about "How Well-Intentioned Adults Undermine Children's Moral and Emotional Development." There is as much here for educators as parents, in other words. We all have a stake--as well as crucial, complementary roles to play--in facilitating our students' ethical and social-emotional development.

Professor Weissbourd offers here a common-sensical, research-based analysis of the policies, priorities, and practices of parents and teachers most--or least--conducive to nurturing our children's character and moral development. He understands the pressures that "the achievement craze" places on kids, their teachers and parents. And he documents how our culture's fetishizing of happiness often deprives both children and adults of the opportunity to learn from adversity, develop resilience, etc. Weissbourd's study is based on field research in representative schools. It's also well-written, and eminently accessible to even lay readers. It's an important new contribution to a burgeoning field.
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