This is a helpful, easy-to-read book filled with unexpectedly good ideas. Maybe it’s just the nerd in me, but I really enjoyed the way the author brought in the wisdom from fields outside of parenting, such as the tech or finance industry, and used this knowledge to formulate advice for helping families function better.
Title: The Secrets of Happy Families: Improve Your Mornings, Tell Your Family History, Fight Smarter, Go Out and Play, and Much More
Author: Bruce Feiler
Publication Year: 2013
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Review: What I like most about this book is that it has actionable advice that I haven’t read about elsewhere. So much of what you read in parenting books is good advice, but redundant. (i.e. “Be more patient.” “Understand your child’s perspective.” “Be consistent.” “Routines are important.” And on and on and on.) It’s pretty rare to read something and think, “Hey, that’s a really good idea. I think I’m going to act on that right now.” However, this book had several bits of advice like that.
Basically, the concept behind this book is that the author used advancements and insights from unexpected and unusual fields of knowledge to figure out how to make families function more successfully. My favorite chapter was probably the first one discussing how Silicon Valley’s agile development techniques could be applied to families. I’ve already made a chart on my wall filled with post-it notes for tasks that need to be done, are in progress, and are completed. Each day I’m on a mission to move tasks over from the “To do” column to “In Progress” and from “In Progress” to “Completed.” I don’t think my productivity has been this high since having kids.
Some of the other ideas which I’m looking forward to incorporating either soon or when my kids are a bit older are family dinners (and possibly family meetings) as described in the book, learning about our family’s history, and developing a family “mission statement”. Other topics are interesting and helpful, but I don’t think I’ll be implementing any changes anytime soon, like the chapter on allowances, talking openly about sex and sexuality, and the one on military style bonding exercises. However, this is the kind of book that I would like to remember to read again in a couple years, because I’ll probably get more useful information out of it every time I read it. (Personal Rating: 9/10)