Considering that most parents think their child is the smartest being that ever walked the earth, I was intrigued when asked to review the book: “I’m Smarter than You Think, Mom and Dad!”. Piquing my interest further, was the book’s tagline – ‘How to Raise Responsible Kids’.
The author, Mridula Agarwal, a best-selling author with four books to her credit, got my attention from the word go when she quoted Michael Levine in her Note. Michael Levine is an American publicist, best-selling author and motivational speaker.
“Having children makes you no more a parent than having a piano makes you a pianist.” Michael Levine
The author emphasizes that parents need to realize their responsibility – as parents. They should know how deep and lasting is the influence they have on their children; an influence the kids will never outgrow. This lays the foundation for the book, which deals with some of the issues parents are faced with today, and how they can deal with them to raise responsible, caring children.
The book tackles 5 issues:
- The fussy and naughty child
- The demanding and defiant child
- Disregard for parents
- Jealousy and sibling rivalry
- The effects of excessive TV and movie-watching
The book is sprinkled with examples of children exhibiting various behaviours, and the author points out what is wrong with each of these behaviours. She contends that it is primarily parents’ expectations that are at fault. And parents’ expectations are faulty because of their incorrect thinking.
The book rightly points out that today, parents seem to misread their children’s wilful, selfish and thoughtless behavior for intelligence, confidence and assertiveness. Parents believe that their children’s self-expression (even if it is at the cost of everyone’s peace of mind) is the only way kids can prepare for both success and happiness. And it is this belief that unwittingly ensures that parents encourage their children to behave badly.
The book introduces parents to new ways of thinking and behaving so that they can have the kind of children they claim to want.
That said, the book could definitely be an easier, more enjoyable read.
Parenting concepts are introduced by Almighty (yes, this is supposed to be the Almighty) when his assistant Farishta (angel) goes on fact-finding missions to Earth to see why “parents are unable to bring up their children to be caring and understanding human beings with proper values, even though the little ones are so receptive, truthful and understanding”.
Having Almighty (it is used as a name; the ‘the’ is missing) and Farishta pilot the book seems contrived, as if readers would accept the ideas given in the book only if they came from ‘on high’.
Using these characters also justifies the presence of numerous repetitive descriptions of the natural beauty of the world, which was made in the image of where Almighty and Farishta reside. These descriptions are unnecessary and detract from the point being made.
The text is wordy; its structure meandering. Sentences are involved, drooping from the weight of too many needless phrases.
The weakest point of the book is its moralistic tone. It tells parents what they ‘should’ do, but doesn’t give them any incentive to do it, beyond ‘raising responsible children’ who can be happy in the future.
I think parents need more immediate rewards for raising responsible children than the satisfaction of doing their ‘duty’ and fulfilling their ‘responsibility’.
All in all, the book is worth going through for some of the ideas, but you’re more likely to scan than read it, and I doubt you’ll reach for it a second time.
“I’m Smarter than You Think, Mom and Dad!” was published by Zubaan in 2008.