Raising Human Beings: Creating a Collaborative Partnership with Your Child by Ross W. Greene, Ph.D. is a book I wish I had read years ago. If I could go back in time, I would hand a copy of this book to myself, the young mother who needed guidance, sound advice, and strategies to cope gracefully with the parenting challenges that had only just begun.
Dr. Greene’s approach, called Collaborative and Proactive Solutions (CPS), promotes a synergetic, non-adversarial approach that encourages parents to partner with their kids to solve problems.
CPS is not about “permissive” parenting, and it’s not about moms and dads surrendering their right to guide their children, make rules, or have expectations. Rather, it’s about:
- identifying the root causes behind a child’s undesirable behaviors
- empowering children to help plan and implement necessary changes, which increases the likelihood that the child will cooperate
One of the main messages that really stood out to me was that children don’t act out because they are trying to be naughty or attempting to manipulate us. Children greatly prefer parents’ approval over their frustration and there are always reasons behind undesirable behaviors. Only by calmly talking with our child, brainstorming and problem-solving together can we learn the reason they are acting certain ways. And only by identifying and solving the root cause can children change their behavior. This opened my eyes to a new way of parenting that did not include punishment, judgment, or shame.
Dr. Greene, a father of two who has worked as a clinical psychologist for over 25 years, lays out some key themes in his book:
- Kids do well if they can.
- Your child would prefer to be doing well.
- Good parenting means being responsive to the hand you’ve been dealt.
I found Raising Human Beings to be easy to read and understand. It is engaging because it is full of excellent advice and real-life scenarios. This book is not only appropriate for a Muslim audience but would, I think, enable us to improve our relationships and raise better members of our Ummah. Today’s adult Muslims often carry a great deal of trauma from the way they were raised with harsh punishment, criticism, and poor communication. If the current generation can learn a new and better way of parenting, we can make a change in our communities that will have a positive ripple effect on future generations.
Oftentimes cultures (including and perhaps especially cultures from Muslim-majority lands) pass down parenting techniques that involve punishment, guilt, authoritarianism, and shame. However, if we look to the example of the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, we see that he took a very gentle approach with children. In fact, he told us that Allah loves gentleness:
Aisha reported that the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, said: “Allah is gentle and He loves gentleness. He rewards for gentleness what is not granted for harshness and He does not reward anything else like it.”
Furthermore, Anas Ibn Malik reported, “I never saw anyone who was more compassionate toward children than Allah’s Messenger, peace and blessings be upon him.”
Implementing Dr. Greene’s technique requires learning a new way of parenting that is gentle and compassionate, just like our beloved Prophet. This entails partnership, teamwork, improved communication, and collaboration rather than force or compulsion. As Dr. Greene points out, parents should strive for influence not control. After all, someday our children will be making their own decisions. Don’t we want them to make good choices because they want to, not because they feel forced or shamed into it?
Dr. Greene wrote another book based on the same principles but geared toward children whose behaviors are extremely challenging. This book is called The Explosive Child and can truly be life-changing for families who are struggling greatly with their child’s behavior. I highly recommend both of Dr. Greene’s books. More information about Collaborate and Proactive Solutions can be found online at: https://livesinthebalance.org/.
Laura El Alam is a first-generation American Muslim and the founder of Sea Glass Writing & Editing www.seaglasswritingandediting.com. A prolific writer, Laura has published articles in numerous magazines and is currently writing a children's picture book for publishing company Ruqaya's Bookshelf, due to be released in 2023, inshaAllah. A wife and mother of five, Laura lives with her family in Massachusetts.