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Review of Dr. Phil's "Family First"
on August 24, 2006
I checked out a copy of "Family First" from the public library. By the time I read a few chapters I returned the library's copy and bought my own. The chapter on "Parenting Style" is worth the price of the book, especially for the little test to determine if your style is authoritarian, equalitarian or permissive. Also helpful is the test to determine if your child is rebellious, cooperative or passive. It is important to know something of your own personality and your child's to determine how you (and your spouse) are going to teach and discipline. I teach "Marriage and Family" for a college and I will be incorporating these two tests in my curriculum.
Also, I really enjoyed the stories he told about family. One particularly moving story is when his dad would not let him drive one night because of bad weather. Even though Phil argued his case and lost, he says he is glad his dad didn't relent. His parents loved him enough to set up boundaries. They valued Phil's life more than they did his agreement on their decisions. His dad was decisive and strong and Phil respected that. Phil apologized to his friend for ruining the plans. His friend looked at him with tear filled eyes and said, "I wish my parents cared enough about me to tell me I couldn't go. They wouldn't care if I drove straight off a cliff."
Phil writes, "It struck me that though John had asked his parents for permission to go to the game, what he had really needed was for them to provide some boundaries and leadership." (Pp.157-58). Parents, even though discipline is sometimes difficult, it does communicate to our children that we care.
I like to use Dr. Phil's book in conjunction with Dr. James Dobson's "The New Strong-Willed Child" and "Parenting Isn't for Cowards" in parenting classes and situations that I teach. (See my reviews on the Dobson books). I recommend all three books.