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Weekend Reading: Poor Little Guy and The Collapse of Parenting

 This Post contains affiliate links. Penguin Books sent me a copy of Poor Little Guy to review. 

What I'm Reading: Book Reviews from an Avid Reader


The Collapse of Parenting: How We Hurt Our Kids When We Treat Them Like Grown-Ups by Leonard Sax MD PhD.

When I saw this on the shelf at our library I was immediately intrigued by the second part of the title “how we hurt our kids when we treat them like grown-ups“. In the book Dr. Sax uses science-based evidence and research to make the point that parents need to be in charge of their kids, parents need to call the shots and parents need to prioritize family togetherness.

Now, my parenting philosophy is already pretty much in line with that thought, but I love how he had the evidence to back it. Dr Sax has traveled to nine countries visiting schools, interviewing doctors and conducting research. It boils down to this (in Dr. Sax’s researched opinion):

You should be strict, but loving.

Parents need to make the big decisions, not kids.

Family time should be prioritized over time with friends. 

Chuck and I have been parenting for twenty years and we are still in the thick of it, with a six-year-old. I have personally seen a change over the years with my various friends. Twenty years ago, it was in vogue to give your child choices (the red cup or the blue one?) so they would learn to make good choices when they grew older…but in recently years I have seen this taken to the extreme. 

I now regularly see parents let their children choose what school they attend (even young kids, like 7 or 8), choose to play sports with injuries (instead of making them sit them out), choose whether or not to take vitamins (or even medicine) to choose to be on an elite travel team when the family has neither the time nor money for that level of sports involvement.

One common sentence I hear a lot is “but so and so chose to…” I’m not talking about Sally chosing to have a Big Mac instead of chicken nuggets. I am talking about decisions parents don’t agree with and can’t afford but don’t have the nerve to just say no.

I honestly think the hardest part of parenting for me is telling my kids no, especially as they grow older. I want them to be happy. I want the to have friends, to have fun, to have freedoms. But I know as a parent it is my job to oversee those choices. 

Dr. Sax also talked about prioritizing family time over friend time (another unpopular choice these days). This is hard! Especially as our children grow older, make friends and move out into the world. According to Dr. Sax time with friends is fine, it is healthy,  but it should not replace time with family. He uses the example of a teen staying with friends for the weekend instead of going along on a family ski trip. There is nothing wrong with spending the weekend with friends…but to spend the weekend with friends when a family event is planned is not okay.

I think this book is well-worth the couple of hours I spent reading it.

And now on a lighter note, a fun kid’s book:

Poor Little Guy by Alanna Allen is a picture book that will delight young children....especially with its surprise ending.

Poor Little Guy by Elanna Allen is the story of a little fish with big plans. The first few pages are wordless, which lets your child’s imagination soar. The illustrations and bright and simple (which appeals to my minimalist side). This book has a surprise ending, that I didn’t see coming (even thought I’m 40 years old and probably should have anticipated). Apollo laughed with delight when I read this to him the first time. And second time. And many more times. 

This book would make a great addition to any child’s bookshelf. 

What’s the best book you’ve read this week?



  1. simonanderin

    I just finished “The Railway Man”. It’s a true story about a man who was a POW in WW2 in the hands of the Japanese and Koreans. I really appreciated that the story didn’t stop when he returned home, but dealt with the longer term effects, and also looked deeply at the issue of forgiveness. Highly recommend it. I haven’t seen the movie, so I don’t know if it goes into the same issues in the same ways, or if it just tells the story of the war.

  2. Csmith

    I agree with the take charge route of parenting. I’m not really a “because I said so” kind of parent but I am a “these are the reasons why I’ve decided you are (or, are not) doing this”.

  3. Herdog

    I just finished ‘A man called Ove’. It’s become one of my top 10. It’s about an old stoic man who wants nothing more then to ‘go be with his wife’ yet new people enter into his life and MAKE him become part of theirs. Yeah, that doesn’t sound too intriguing but it a book full of wonderful friendship. And it ends good! It’s a gem.

  4. Katie

    One of my favorite parenting books is Spiritual Parenting by Michelle Anthony. She talks about how we are creating an environment for our kids to draw closer to God. It is based on heart focused parenting over behavior focused parenting.

  5. Julianne

    I just finished this book as well and loved it! My husband and I are on the opposite end of parenting as you – just starting out with a 7 month old son, but I thought Sax’s points were very clear and applicable, and identified many of the parenting traps we’ve seen friends and family fall into that we hope to avoid! It took me forever to get through because I kept stopping to read things out loud to my husband – now he’s reading it 🙂

    • Renee

      I’ve really been thinking about the “prioritize family time”. One child asked to bring her friend along on a camping trip. After reading this book I am saying no. Camping is about family time. Yes, we are camping with friends, but it is our family and their family. I know if my child brought her friend along, she would hang out with her and exclude her siblings. Thanks for sharing!

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