Raising children you can live with: A guide for frustrated parents
Guanipa, Carmen L
Raser, J. (1999). Raising children you can live with: A guide for frustrated parents. Houston, TX: Bayou, 156pp., $14.95
This is an enjoyable and practical book about how to develop strategies to help parents successfully interact with their children. The author provides parents with an amazing array of explicit, directive maps that renegotiate communication to build trust and caring. Raser emphasizes throughout the book that parents can redefine their relationship with their children and learn how to stop the “gotcha” (p. 77) game played in most power struggles. He presents information on what may contribute to the deterioration of a relationship and how to counteract a negative cycle.
The book is divided into three sections. In the first section, Raser explains his basic premises of strategic interaction and the “Six Ps” model of relationship (prepare, predict, plan, practice, PAT [praise, appreciate, and thank), and patient, p. 36). His main argument is that parents can learn how to work effectively with their children if they strategize their interactions. Strategic and solution-focused premises appear to guide the interventions, particularly the idea that most of the negative interactions involve a power struggle (Haley, 1991; Madanes, 1991; Watzlawick, 1983). The parents’ role is to alter the family dynamic from a competitive stand (winner and losers) to a collaborative/cooperative position (in which everyone wins). Similar to a solution-focused approach, Raser does not concentrate on clinical understanding of the interaction or the situation (Gladding, 1998); he is more concerned with producing changes and successful relations. The second section of the book includes tips on dealing with problems such as a child who does not communicate, a child who does not obey rules, a child who “acts out” with drugs and alcohol, and so on, integrating examples of different daily issues. Finally, section three compiles a set of excellent resources with good information in what to do when things do not work. In total, the book is made up of 19 chapters.
This author does an exceptional job presenting concrete reframing strategies as examples. Through a series of short and long vignettes, Raser provides a clear picture to parents on what to do. Exceptionally helpful is the presentation of inspiring vignettes on positive and negative interactions that will bring Raser `s points home to all the readers who have/had children. His examples allow parents to revise why their intervention was not effective, which could invite self-reflection and hopefully more positive strategies. The author is aware from his clinical experience and his training that parents prefer a precise and concrete direction to deal with their children’s concerns. He uses a concise, practical, and up-front style, which I like. The book is easy to read, strategizing interventions that are common to guide parents as they face difficulties in raising their children.
Further examples of systemic and postmodern strategies to help parents raise their children are particularly important to include to enhance understanding of specific difficulties presented as case illustrations. Multicultural and multiethnic interactional issues, which can be a source of growth in some parent-child relationships, are missing from this book. It is unfortunate that a book that presents so many interesting tips and strategies for parents to work with their children neglects to mention or include diverse families and diversity issues. Another primary weakness of this book is that it attempts to cover too much. The reader is left at some points wishing that the author invested more time in presenting a deeper understanding of children’s behavior and their interactions with parents and other family members.
The anecdotal information about effectiveness of Raser’s methods is convincing. However, as a parent and scholar, I would have benefited from reading some research data that supports the effectiveness of his approach. Perhaps this will be a good project to develop in the future.
In summary, the strength of this book is that it offers an applied, practical perspective on the problem of child-parent relationship. I believe that it is a good contribution for parents. However, it lacks theoretical richness and depth. This book needs to be recommended in combination with other books that present a more systemic/contextual perspective in dealing with children and adolescents who are being raised in diverse families and a society immersed in a technological world.
Gladding, S. (1998). Family therapy: History, theory, and practice. Hillsdale, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Haley, J. (1990). Interminable therapy. In Zeig & S. Gilligan (Eds.), Brief therapy: Myths, methods, and metaphors.
New York: Brunner/Mazel.
Madanes,C. (1991). Strategic family therapy. In A.S. Gutman& D.P. Kniskem(Eds.), Handbook offamily therapy, Vol. 11 (pp. 396-416). New York: Brunner/Mazel.
Wazlawick R (1983). The situation is hopeless but not serious. New York: Norton.
Carmen L. Guanipa, PhD
San Diego State University
Copyright American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy Oct 2000
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