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Recommended Parenting Books

''Family First'' by Dr. Phil McGraw

Family First: Your Step-by-Step Plan for Creating a Phenomenal Family
by Dr. Phil McGraw

I go into learning mode when I watch Dr. Phil. Occasional daytime TV theatrics aside, when the man “gets real” with his guests, he impresses me. That’s particularly true with his advice to parents of teens. So even though I like Dr. Phil, his book Family First actually exceeded my expectations.

I don’t think it’s overreaching to say that anyone could benefit from his step-by-step lessons for becoming the compassionate, and clear-minded parent needed to create a “phenomenal family.”

When most parents are asked, “What do you want for your kids?” they invariably say, “I want them to be happy.” But Dr. Phil points out that “being happy” isn’t enough. When you really think about it, your parental goal is more likely: “I want a child who actively engages the world with positive, productive and results-generating behaviors.” That’s very specific and yet open-ended enough to fit an infinite number of paths determined by your child’s own passions. Your job as a parent is to guide your kids, model and reinforce positive behavior, and provide an environment conducive to achieving what they’re meant to achieve.

When we indulge our kids with every “toy” they request, we may rob them of opportunities to work towards earning what they want. Likewise, when we cave in to every demand and grant them privileges that are beyond their current level of responsibility, we set them up for making bad decisions.

Parents need to take the leadership role in the family. Your child’s safety and healthy development is much more important than his/her happiness. On this, Dr. Phil and I are on the same page.

Another Dr. Phil gem is about being authentic as a parent. His advice is to be honest with your kids about how you feel and why you make certain choices. When you do, you encourage them to think about what motivates other people. That’s invaluable emotional intelligence skill-building which will help them to understand themselves and others, now and throughout their lives. Well done, Dr. Phil.

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