Sunday, April 22, 2007

Walking on Eggshells

Navigating the Delicate Relationship Between Adult Children and Parents

If you are parenting an infant, a child, or a teen, you can unearth a plethora of books advising you on every conceivable aspect of the job. But once the little darling turns 18, you are on your own. And when you are like me, and have five adult children, each with his/her own complicating factors, you see yourself in the midst of a delicate minefield with no map in sight. Thus the title Walking on Eggshells, and Jane Isay, the author, makes a mighty effort to roadmap the challenges of dealing with your progeny who have achieved their majority.

The main points that I remember are that you have to treat your children like the adults that they are, and that if you have issues that divide you, and you make an effort to repair the damage, the kids tend to be amazingly ready to let bygones be bygones. The unspoken assumption here is that the parents are also in a forgiving mood, probably because the book is written for those parents who wish to have good relationships with their adult children.

Other specific topics, such as giving advice (don't), money, in-laws, grandchildren, and holidays are touched on. There are no bullets and no to-do lists. I don't know if this is because the author is touchy-feely by inclination, or because adult family relationships are too precious and tenuous to attempt to apply one-size-fits-all solutions.

In any case, I enjoyed the book, and may reread it someday when the family constellation has rearranged itself and I need a refresher course. If relationships with your adult children are deteriorating, you could do worse than read this, and see if you can find yourself and/or your child in its pages.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Made to Stick

Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die

Chip and Dan Heath are really on to something here. Why can we all remember the somebody-stole-your-kidneys story, but not how mitosis works? The Heath brothers have pooled their expertises (organizational behavior and education consulting) to show us how to make our ideas "sticky"--that is, memorable. (I so could have used this--wait. I can still use this! Woo Hoo!)

The book is enormously worthwhile, and even has a reference guide in the back. But as an enticement, let me state the Six Principles, which spell SUCCESs:
* Simple: how to find and share the core idea
* Unexpected: how to get and hold attention
* Concrete: make abstraction concrete (see Aesop)
* Credible: help people believe you
* Emotional: make people care (I especially like appealing to identity)
* Stories: why shop talk is important, and why you care.

So, read this book. Better still, buy this book, and refer to it often. Better yet, buy me a copy. I will thank you again and again.