Just what does it take to raise a responsible, compassionate child in a society whose overbearing media celebrates and encourages violence, promiscuity, and gluttonous materialism? Dr. William Sears and his wife, Martha, a nurse, understand that instilling a moral code in one's children is among the most daunting, yet vital, of all parenting tasks. In The Successful Child, they've marvelously distilled 34 years' experience parenting their eight children and treating thousands of kids in their pediatric office--along with facts from recent scientific studies--into this collection of constructive, reassuring guidelines for nurturing children into healthy, well-adjusted young adults.
As Dr. Sears told his children, "Your success in life ... will not be measured by the money you make or the degrees you earn, but rather by the number of persons whose lives are better because of what you did." To that end, Sears advocates what he has coined "attachment parenting," or AP, the practice of listening to your parenting instincts and being sensitive to your baby's needs (such as by quickly responding to cries; by breastfeeding on cue, not bottle-feeding on a schedule; and by co-sleeping). By having his needs met immediately, Sears says the child learns to trust adults, and he in turn mirrors this behavior by acting sensitively to the needs of others later on.
Sears says, "It's never too late to try the AP approach with a child," but The Successful Child definitely will be most useful to parents who've raised their child according to AP guidelines through infancy and toddlerhood. Those who haven't may shudder when Sears writes that the developmental stage from birth to one year most influences a child's future success "because that's when caregivers leave the most lasting impressions on a child's brain." Nevertheless, the Searses have packed in a plethora of sensible tips here for all parents, including 16 ways to teach children how to make wise choices, 12 strategies for guiding spiritual development, seven questions to ponder when a teen wants to start working part-time, and a dozen ways to boost your child's intellectual abilities, such as by offering a diet high in brain-building omega-3 fatty acids. But the most important thing parents can do for their kids, the Searses say, is to hold high expectations: "Let her know that you expect her to do her best, no less and no more, and that you will love her no matter what." --Erica Jorgensen