Great Kids (the book)

What makes Great Kids Great?

Blair and his older brother were Great Kids!  They were good academic students, successful student-athletes, positively engaged with their peers and very comfortable when interacting with adults.  However, what really made them great, in my eyes, was the way the behaved and worked around students less capable or less fortunate than themselves.  They not only had their own act together but they were caring and compassionate in a quiet but very mature way.  They were well liked and respected by all of their peers and had a clearly defined sense of self that made them stand out.  While not the best in any one area they were great citizens and well rounded students.  It was the first time that I identified kids, as a teacher, who I felt were Great Kids!  I hoped that my own kids would be like them as they grew up.

 I soon became very interested in trying to figure out what made these Great Kids great.   Over the next thirty-four years I was able to get to know and work with countless, Great Kids.  Invariably, they are self-confident, outgoing and successful learners.  They are kids who are positively motivated and above all, good citizens. Not surprisingly many of these kids have become the leaders of the ‘generation next,’ a generation which I truly believe is changing our world into a better place.

 In trying to understand these Great Kids I came to the realization that they usually have an adult support, somebody in their lives who has made a very positive difference in developing personality, successes and ultimately life chances.  As time passed I observed that the often-intuitive choices these adults made were very much aligned with current psychological research around good parenting.  Great Kids, I discovered, had Great Parents (or in many instances a Great Single Parent) doing it right. Psychologists and youth experts like Barbara Colloroso, Dr. Gordon Neufeld and Dr. Martin Brokenleg (people who greatly influenced me both as an educator and a dad) validated the intuitive parenting practices I was observing and which my wife and I were beginning to practice.

It is fascinating, as I look back at all the Great Kids I have gotten to work with and know over the last thirty-four years.   I don’t believe that there has ever been a time when kids have changed as much, nor conditions affecting kids have changed as much as over this time frame and especially over the last decade.  Despite this onset of change the factors that made kids great thirty-four years ago are almost identical today.  Certainly the challenges facing both parents and kids have changed but I believe good parenting skills have really remained constant. 

Great Kids started out as a series of parenting conversations directed to my own children.   As the book progressed and evolved, I received considerable encouragement and support to develop the question of why Great Kids were great, for a much larger audience.  Great Kids has become a valuable resource, firstly for parents and secondly for anyone working with youth today.  Parents of children ranging from toddlers to teen-agers will find the discussions around the characteristics of Great Kids meaningful and relevant as they help their own Kids grow and mature.  Great Kids, by design, is not as prescriptive as many parenting books promoting a particular “parenting style.”  Instead, by closely examining some of the common characteristics of really successful children, parents will be able to recognize and enhance their own parenting styles and practices.  

A single mom who has raised four Great Kids (three years apart!) was one of my early proof- readers.  She commented, “ You have put into words something that rings true but is not generally acknowledged.  Great Kids engages in a very important conversation that is overlooked today.”  Another parent who is raising a very energetic toddler commented, “One of the great things about this book is the positive focus!  I really appreciate the positive tone and examples used in the book, they are very helpful.”  Finally the mother of a teen aged daughter commented “It is so helpful to understand some of the challenges my daughter is facing.  The information around Gen Y youth and their attachments will be a great help to me and my daughter.”

          As you read through the chapters you will smile at many of the examples I share and you will probably wince at others as you recognize your own parenting style ‘under examination.’  No parent is perfect; certainly my Kids will attest that I wasn’t.   However, Great Kids, at the end of the day, is a resource that will give any parent a few more tools, a few new options to consider and a few resources to try as they embark upon their parenting journey.

          It is truly my hope that by looking at the common characteristics exemplified in Great Kids, you will be better able to enjoy parenting your own Great Kids.

Enjoy the journey!

Look inside - Intro
Look inside - Chapter Conversation 1
Look inside - Chapter Conversation 9