This is a book of advice. Advice? Yes, advice. However, far from the well-meaning but intrusive and obnoxious "best friend" who wants to manage the lives of others, Dr. Ginsberg gives practical suggestions and terrific illustrations as answers to questions that single parents commonly ask. Apparently, he draws from his long experience of working with single parents, children, and families. Most of the fifty ways to be a wonderful single-parent family receive two pages, with some being a little longer, giving the reader a clear and concise statement about how to deal with a particular issue. Also, each is numbered. As illustrations, somewhat randomly, some of the ways are "1. Look for the Positives," "6. Learn to Juggle," "14. Make Time to Talk, and "29. Be Realistic about Household Chores." Along with the others, these topics appear to come from Ginsberg's many conversations with single parents. The significance of this book, though, lies neither in its number of topics, in the topics chosen, nor in the brevity of the coverage. Instead, this book is significant because it demonstrates a high level of understanding of the lives of single parents and provides useful information that is based on this understanding. This shows in Ginsberg's attention to both women and men who are single parents. It shows in straightforward advice, instead of abstract or theoretical advice or advice that only other mental health clinicians may wish to read. This book is good because it provides single parents with invitations and directives to take care of themselves, just as they dedicate themselves to taking care of their children. Also, this book is good because it speaks to single parents in practical, simple, but not simplistic, and very approachable ways. Often, a frustrating experience is knowing that something significant is happening, but not knowing how to think about it. Ginsberg provides ways for single parents to think about their unique experiences. In this way, despite the apparent simplicity of his presentation, he truly presents "wonderful ways to be a single-parent family. Dr. Ginsberg writes, "When Jim split up with his wife, he had to pick up his children from day care, bring them home, and make dinner--he could no longer play with them while his wife made dinner. He tried to make up for it by spending the extra time with both children to read to them before bed. Though they at first missed playtime with dad before dinner, they now look forward to this special time with him at bedtime." As plain as this may appear to be, he includes this in "11. Develop Rituals and Traditions." Also, he extends this picture of developing rituals and traditions with some equally plain advice, including the following statements: "Even the most mundane daily event can become special--Friday night pizza, Sunday morning French toast, the Saturday morning walk to get the newspaper." "Observe as many of your family's former routines as you can." "If you have to make changes, get input from your children." He writes more than these, but these give a picture of the kind and level of his advice. Single parents often succeed because they do many of the things that Dr. Ginsberg recommends. Likewise, many other single parents live somewhat perilously or fail, experiencing personal turmoil, sometimes emotionally harming their children, feeling overwhelmed and helpless, and much more. Usually, these are good persons who lack effective self-management skills. They need help. Generally, however, these parents do not read professional books and journals so as to discover good suggestions about how better to be a single-parent family. This book is for them. Francis A. Martin, Ph.D., is Professor of Counseling and Campus Dean, South Dakota State University --From The Family Journal Vol. 12 January, 2004
Those of us who work with parents are always on the lookout for new materials that parents will find helpful and easy to read. Those of us who work from a child-centered and family strength perspective are especially interested in materials that amplify and strengthen the work we do in therapy or in parenting groups to help families nurture each other. There are many books out there which tell parents how to teach or control their children. There are very few good books that help parents have better relationships with their children. Now we have a new resource: Barry Ginsberg s 50 Wonderful Ways to be a Single Parent Family, published by New Harbinger Publications, is an easy to read, inexpensive ($12.95) paperback that provides 50 simple, practical ways that single parents can foster caring and strength in their families. The book is organized in Four Parts: Coping with Transition and Change, Talking and Listening, Working and Playing, and Getting Along. Each section has a dozen or so topics that apply concepts from Child-centered Play, RE, Filial and the Parenting Skills Program to the special needs of single parent families. Individual topics include many practical problems, such as juggling roles, decision making, revising rituals and traditions, or relationships with a variant geography. Much of the value of the book comes from its practicality. Each topic includes a story of a single parent with an issue and how he or she solved the problem. It then provides simple guidelines for how the reader might solve a similar concern. For example, 4.Meet Your Children s Needs describes a scenario of a recently divorced mother who realized her children were struggling. She talked with her children to gain understanding of what their needs were and then implemented some practical steps to meet them. Or in 21.Talk with Adolescents Barry describes a dad whose relationship with his daughter went downhill when she turned twelve and how the two of them worked it out providing guidelines for others as they did so. 50 Wonderful Ways to Be a Single-Parent Family does not directly teach RE or Filial; it applies them. All through the book parents are encouraged to create love in their homes through showing understanding, working and playing together, and working conflicts through in literally 50 practical, wonderful ways. In its presentation it is respectful and supportive of the needs of single parent families and their strengths. It practices what it preaches. I see it as a wonderful resource for home assignments and supplemental reading for many of my clients. --Mary Ortwein, MS, LMFT, is Executive Director of IDEALS of Kentucky and co-author with Dr. Bernard Guerney of the MML Series of RE materials, including Mastering the Mysteries of Love, Love s Cradle, Ready for Love, and Mastering the Magic of Play.
Highly experienced -- and very wise -- child and family psychologist Barry G. Ginsberg, Ph.D., has written a short book that covers a vast territory. Any single parent who is struggling with the burden of childrearing all alone, whether new to the role or not, would pick up insights here. There are really more than "50 wonderful ways" described clearly and realistically in these pages. What parent couldn't benefit from being reminded of what matters and what can be let go of in the interests of a more positive and happy family life? Ginsberg has left nothing important out -- and has included many anecdotes, specific suggestions, and more. Busy parents will particularly relax in the presence of Ginsberg's warm and supportive tone. --Susan Perry Author of LOVING IN FLOW (BunnyApe.com)