A parent recently asked us at a workshop, “What should I do if my seventh-grade son leaves his homework on the kitchen counter when he leaves for school in the morning?”
“That depends on your son,” we answered. “Tell us about your son. Overall, is he a fairly responsible seventh grader?”
“Oh yes, he’s extremely responsible for his age.”
“Then just jump in the car and run his book up to the school. And by the way, stick two dollars in his math book for a sports drink. You don’t need to teach a responsible son to be responsible. He already knows that-he just forgot his homework. You have other things to teach him that are more relevant.”
If the son had been perpetually irresponsible, we would have recommended a different approach. One-size-fits-all parenting would most likely recommend teaching him a lesson he didn’t need to learn while adding needless strain to the whole process.
How to parent a situation will depend on in which areas your child is doing well and in which areas he or she is falling behind. We feel a good parenting book will show how and why one child should be parented differently from another child—or the neighbor’s kids. Here’s the thing: We don’t know your children and where they come from. Are they biological or adopted? Are you a single parent or in a two-parent family? Do your children have reading disabilities or social limitations? Are they depressed or angry? All these factors will affect your parenting decisions.
We found ourselves helping parents think differently about a situation and were amazed at how quickly the problem improved or disappeared simply by seeing it in a new and accurate light. We came to believe that the best hope in addressing parenting issues is to think differently about parenting issues.
We’ve chosen the title Gist as it means the bottom line, the truth, or the inner workings of something. We say “the gist of it” when we want someone to know the way something really works. This book is about preparing your kids for life, and doing that in an effective way.