The Skin We're in: Teaching Our Children to Be: Emotionally Strong, Socially Smart, Spiritually Connected

Janie Victoria Ward, Author
Janie Victoria Ward, Author Free Press $24 (304p) ISBN 978-0-684-85928-6
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-0-684-85929-3
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""How can we best help our youth to be strong, self-confidant and resilient? How can we fortify them to resist racism...?"" In order to find practicable answers to these pressing questions, Ward, an education professor at Simmons College in Boston, interviewed dozens of African-American parents and children about their views on such topics as school, friends, racism, opportunity and money. She identifies many common obstacles that hinder youngsters from finding a positive personal identity. For example, she finds that baby boomer parents often have a difficult time providing their children with insights on their racial identity, since they may have learned to work successfully within a white system at their jobs, while their children spend time primarily with blacks. Other children are overcome by anger, feeling that they face a losing battle for educational and career opportunities. Chapter summaries by Ward include lists of ""resistance strategies"" and ""helpful and liberating strategies"" that parents can use. For example, a chapter on unhealthy spending patterns warns against ""keeping up with the Jones"" and ""envying and resenting those who have more than you."" Instead, she suggests that readers direct their efforts toward ""developing family traditions that reinforce core values"" and ""teaching teenagers to value what they already have."" This well-researched book should generate discussion among parents and educators, but it would have been even stronger had Ward developed her chapter summaries and offered a greater variety of approaches for parents to follow. (Sept.)
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