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I Refuse to Raise a Brat: Straightforward Advice on Parenting in an Age of Overindulgence
     

I Refuse to Raise a Brat: Straightforward Advice on Parenting in an Age of Overindulgence

by Marilu Henner, Ruth Velikovsky Sharon, Ruth Velikovsky Sharon
 

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Nobody wants to raise a brat...but the surest way to do so is by doing too much for and giving too much to your kids.

Parents often inadvertently confuse love with overindulgence. They don't want their children to suffer a moment of frustration or be deprived of any desire. But in truth, a balance of frustration tolerance and

Overview

Nobody wants to raise a brat...but the surest way to do so is by doing too much for and giving too much to your kids.

Parents often inadvertently confuse love with overindulgence. They don't want their children to suffer a moment of frustration or be deprived of any desire. But in truth, a balance of frustration tolerance and gratification is necessary to become a resilient and responsible adult.

Of course, every child is difficult on occasion, but true brats are constantly selfish, demanding, and incapable of listening. Their parents must regularly plead, cajole, and bargain with them to exert some control. So what makes a child become a brat in the first place? And what can a parent do—or not do—to keep their children from becoming brats?

Since being a mother is her most important role, renowned actress Marilu Henner has often turned to Dr. Ruth Sharon, a highly respected psychoanalyst, for advice on raising her own children. Together, in I Refuse to Raise a Brat, they have created a practical and accessible guidebook based on Dr. Sharon's fundamental observation: Adults with the greatest emotional difficulties were generally overgratified, overprotected, and overindulged as children.

Consequently, parents need to allow their children to work through their frustrations at an early age and not consistently indulge them. I Refuse to Raise a Brat will show parents how to:

  • Establish parent—child contracts and effective methods of discipline
  • Handle temper tantrums, bedtime issues, sibling rivalry, lying, and more
  • Help their children tolerate frustration and become comfortable with difficult feelings

Filled with dozens of real-life questions, practical advice, and humorous anecdotes, I Refuse to Raise a Brat is a witty and uniquely helpful resource to help parents raise secure and self-reliant children.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Actress Henner, who entered the realm of authorship with a couple of health books, now offers her advice on parenting. A supporter of psychoanalyst Ruth Sharon, Henner's basic philosophy is that children are overindulged and thus do not develop into independent adults. Through a Q&A format, Henner relates Sharon's theories about many childhood concerns such as sleep and discipline, adding anecdotes from her own experiences with her two preschool-age sons. Like other books of this nature, this one has some nuggets of useful advice. The overall presentation, however, is impractical with its black-and-white view of parenting. While real-life examples can personalize otherwise dry information, Henner becomes grating and self-serving when talking about her own children. In addition, she provides misleading information about breastfeeding. The most interesting portions are her memories of her own colorful childhood, making the listener hope that Henner's next writing venture will be an autobiography. While this program can supplement well-rounded parenting collections, it should not replace more comprehensive manuals.--Susan McCaffrey, Haslett H.S., MI Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780060392666
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
10/06/1999
Pages:
224
Product dimensions:
7.37(w) x 9.25(h) x 0.86(d)

Read an Excerpt

An Excerpt from I Refuse to Raise a Brat

Preface

Being a mom is my favorite, and by far the most important, thing I do in my life. When I look at the beautiful faces of my two little boys, Nicky, age five, and Joey, three and a half, I know I want to be the best mother I can be. But what does being the best mother mean? Does it mean that I'm supposed to do everything for my children, and then one day expect them to be able to do those things for themselves? Should I try to anticipate their needs before they even know and can identify those needs? Does it mean that I'm supposed to shield them from all of life's bumps and hard knocks? And how difficult will it be for them to cope when I'm not there to be their shield? As a parent, you want to do so much for your children, but how much is too much? At what point does giving and protecting too much become what we will refer to throughout this book as overgratification? My parents, who raised six of us, often let us stumble and fall and find our own way. They had to. There wasn't enough time in the day for them to hover over and do too much for six children. We sometimes learned the hard way, and had a few mishaps along the way, but eventually we all had to learn to fend for ourselves.

My children are relatively young right now. As a mom, I know I'm a work in progress. I don't claim to be an expert yet. I am, however, fortunate enough to have had the guidance of Dr. Ruth Velikovsky Sharon. She is a brilliant psychoanalyst who has helped me in my career for many years, and the mother of three successful adults who have families of their own. The most important lesson she has taught me about child rearing is that the majority of problems we experience throughout our lives can be traced to being overgratified, overprotected, and/or overindulged as children. Giving too much to our children is one of the surest ways to deprive them of the emotional and physical tools they will need to cope with the many challenges and changes of life. Every time I have followed her theories, I can see positive results. And every time I'm having trouble, or anyone around me is having trouble, it usually relates to overgratification in some way. Overfrustration (giving a child too little) is the opposite of overgratification, and can also create problems in one's life. The answer lies in finding a balance between frustration and gratification. Finding a balance is what this book is all about.

The world is a frustrating place where every day we must identify what we need and what we want in order to get it. And sometimes it takes a long time to get it, or we never get it. That's life. Some people are better equipped to deal with life's frustration than others, and that's probably because their parents allowed them to work through their frustrations at an early age. But so many parents today do everything they can to avoid teaching their children these important life-coping skills.

From the day my first son, Nicky, was born, I tried to apply Dr. Sharon's advice. I learned to listen to the differences in Nicky's cries. Eventually, I could distinguish his "cry to be fed" from his "cry to be played with" from his "cry to be changed," and so on. If I hadn't let him cry first, I never would have been able to recognize the differences in his cries. Nicky and I soon developed our own "language," and instead of my anticipating his every need (which is an unrealistic way to bring up a child, because the world doesn't work that way), he was able to cry and let me know what he wanted. I was then able to help him.

When Nicky was around fourteen months old, I was explaining to Dr. Sharon that I was having a really hard time putting him to bed. He slept through the night by that time, of course, but getting him to bed was difficult, because early on, despite Dr. Sharon's advice to put him down awake and let him fall asleep on his own, I would rock him to sleep while singing my favorite Beatles songs. It was a time I looked forward to every day, but now the ritual was getting old, and with Joey on the way (I was five months pregnant at the time), it was exhausting. I remember saying to her, "I know, I know, I shouldn't have let this go on so long. He's too old to be rocked to sleep. It's too much, and he now knows he's getting away with something, too. I can tell. There's this bratty quality about it now, and I refuse to raise a brat!"

So, what is a brat? Every kid is a little bratty sometimes, of course. But when we talk about a brat in this book, we're talking about that uncooperative, whining, annoying, demanding, selfish little (or big) person whom no one can control. We've seen them all too often in malls, restaurants, theaters, and playgrounds. Their parents are constantly pleading and bribing and enticing and bargaining. Brats can come in all shapes, sizes, and even ages, because little brats often become big brats. Some grown-ups never stop being brats; they only get better at hiding their brattiness. Throughout this book, we will extensively explore these questions: What makes a child become a brat in the first place? And what can parents do (and more important, not do) to keep their child from becoming a brat? What kind of mind-set do we need, as parents, to raise our children?

When I became a mother, Dr. Sharon and I started writing this book together. As a new mother, so many questions came up every day of my first child's life. And then, once I had two children and realized that the playing field had changed, I thought, How do I balance the frustration and gratification between the two of them?

We all want to do a great job as parents, but striving to be perfect parents is a mistake. The world is not a perfect place, and insisting on perfection can be both paralyzing and crazy-making (for us and our children). It's inevitable that we're going to make mistakes along the way. It's just that it's better to have a general mind-set, a sort of blueprint, even if we end up straying from it every once in a while. If we are on the right path, the results will be much better than if we had no structure, no boundaries, and no guidelines. That's why Dr. Sharon and I have written this book: to take you through the different aspects of raising a child. It sounds very simple to say, "Okay, I'm just not going to overgratify my children." But when you've got a crying baby, what do you do? When you can't understand what your five-year-old is upset about, what do you do? Or if you've got a twelve-year-old and some bad habits have crept in, how do you undo those habits?

The chapters of this book include a number of elements. I introduce each topic, and Dr. Sharon's ideas, written in her own words, follow. In each of the chapters, Dr. Sharon's advice is followed by a series of questions we've appropriately called, "Brat Busters." The questions reflect the issues of the chapter, made real by everyday parents and their concerns. Even if a question doesn't apply to your situation, you may recognize your life somewhere else in the question or answer. In addition to Dr. Sharon's answer, I usually add my insight as a mom, currently and joyously at the front line of motherhood. There is a brief section in each chapter about the consequences of certain behaviors if children carry them into adulthood. It's aptly titled "When Little Brats Become Big Brats."

I hope you find our book inspiring and helpful in your desire to become a great (but not perfect!) parent.

© 1999 by Marilu Henner and Dr. Ruth V. Sharon. Excerpted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

Meet the Author

Marilu Henner is well known for her roles in Taxi and Evening Shade and her participation in The Celebrity Apprentice. She is the author of two other New York Times bestselling books, Marilu Henner's Total Health Makeover and Healthy Life Kitchen. She lives in Los Angeles.

Ruth Velikovsky Sharon, Ph.D., is a psychoanalyst in private practice in New York City. She cohosts a weekly radio show, The Couch, with her son, Rafael. Her father, Dr. Immanuel Velikovsky, was a colleague of Sigmund Freud.

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