Talk about judging a book by its colour! When I first agreed to review Larry Winget’s book, Your Kids Are Your Own Fault, I was expecting another half-baked self-help book. Then the book arrived and staring straight out at me was this bald-headed cowboy in a garish red shirt. What the flip?
Winget’s style is unashamedly confrontational. His narrative is no-holds-barred and I’m guessing that he likes to raise hackles wherever he goes. My biggest concern when I started reading was “does this guy have the credentials to write a parenting book?” The answer? No more or no less than anybody else.
However, where Larry’s strengths lie (yes, my wife and I started asking “what would Larry do?” during our reading of the book) are in that he recognises that society is on a downward spiral. That we’re losing control of our kids and we’re too busy or too lazy to teach them the important lessons that parents need to pass on.
In that regard, Winget spends a lot of time looking at society’s ills and how better parenting (or better leadership if you want) could solve a vast number of them. To be fair, he equates the recent recession to people not being taught how to manage money and live within their means. I don’t believe that’s strictly true, and I’d be willing to bet that Larry wouldn’t be blaming the Wall Street Crash on lousy parenting skills!
On the positive side, Larry Winget is a man with a plan, and I like that. For me, this book is all about the negative effects of lazy parenting – how we’re letting TV raise our kids, how people will go to extraordinary lengths to buy their kids the latest stuff – giving them no sense of the value of things. He also takes a swing at parents who are too engrossed in their kids, teaching them that they’re the most special thing ever when in reality they’re no better or worse than anybody else. Now, I know most of us do this to build the self-esteem of our kids, but perhaps we should be building their self-esteem based on merit and achievement rather than constantly telling them they’re wonderful?
But before you start to think Larry’s hell-bent on tearing down your preconceptions of parenting, he has his suggestions for how to improve how you raise your child. And he rightly warns readers in advance that they won’t agree with everything he suggests, but there’s a lot of richness in this book that you’d be a fool to miss.
As for the abrasive style, that’s up for discussion. Winget tells it like it is, but he seems to be writing this book out of a genuine desire to make things better. Ultimately he’s saying that the world could be a better place and that the way to do it is to raise a generation of kids with solid values and a strong work ethic. Can you really argue with that?
For me, Your Kids Are Your Own Fault is more a manifesto than a self-help book. It’s not perfect. There are sections that you’ll choose not to act upon – I can see Larry’s pro-smacking stance being tough for some parents to palette. However, the book feels written from the heart, with a geniune desire to help people turn around the way they raise their kids.
I love that Winget is in-your-face honest in this book. If you’re offended by anything he says, I suggest that you analyse why you’re offended! Maybe you’ve been coasting along the path of least resistance when you should be teaching your children some values. I know a mother whose son left his iPod Touch strewn on the ground, and when she accidentally stood on and broke it, immediately felt guilty and replaced it. Rather than let it be a lesson to him not to leave expensive things lying around. I know other parents whose kids are constantly in a game of oneupmanship, trying to have the lastest and best stuff.
There’s a big need for this book. Frankly, though his delivery style might offend you, Larry Winget has written a book that people need to read. Don’t just sit there – order a copy of Your Kids Are Your Own Fault. Come back and tell me if you liked it!