You're Not the Boss of Me

Eliza Clark
April 16, 2010

Once in a while, everyone needs a little tough love. Yes, fellow parents, that means us too! When was the last time someone asked you to confront your own overly indulgent or simply ineffective parenting practices? Can't remember? In that case, it may be time for the bracing tonic that is Betsy Brown Braun's second book of child-rearing advice, You're Not the Boss of Me: Brat-Proofing Your 4- to 12-Year Old Child.

Reading this book involves facing something many parents fear -- that's one's child may be on the path to becoming a brat. That's right, a BRAT. It's a scary word, and a horrible thought. For those of us whose children are still in the toddler or preschool years, it is very hard to imagine our sweet, snuggly darlings in such harsh terms. But the first time your four-year-old says "No, you are having a time-out Mama!" (and that moment is bound to come), you'll be extremely glad to have this book on your shelf.

Indeed, we predict that in the years ahead we'll be keeping this book on the bedside table for easy reference. We already trust Betsy Brown Braun implicitly based on her sagacious first book, Just Tell Me What to Say, and here we get more of her no nonsense, level-headed, realistic and also sympathetic brand of advice. She gives a detailed guide to the kinds of day-in-day-out interactions and family dynamics that make all the difference. We all want to raise our kids to become empathetic, responsible, self-reliant and honest adults. This book shows us, in concrete and doable ways, exactly how to do so.

Whether giving tips on cultivating gratitude and respect in young children, showing us how to avoid "spoilage" or laying out what a family chore system should look like, Braun writes in a clear and memorable manner. Her bullet points, otherwise known a "tips and scripts," are likely to become your new parenting mantras.

A few of her bold print directives that we love:

On praise: "Don't even bother with 'good job.'" (Were two words ever more overused in the annals of contemporary parenting?  And don't worry, she offers a list of 100 alternatives!)

On respect: "When speaking to your child, be as respectful as you would be with a friend." (Why is this so difficult?)

On manners: "Children need to eat with adults in order to learn table manners." (Sometimes the obvious needs to be stated, and restated.)

On gratitude: "Consider giving your child less." (Material possessions, that is. She is all for giving them more of our time.)

There are literally hundreds of similar nuggets of wisdom and straight talk among these pages. Taken together, they form a crucial road map for raising good kids during the years that count the most. As Braun says repeatedly, there are no shortcuts when it comes to child rearing. Lucky for us, she is by our side, every step of the way.

Betsy's book will be available for purchase on April 20.

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