It’s Not Fair by Gill Hines and Alison Baverstock

It’s Not Fair  is a book about raising children. It was written by Gill Hines and Alison Baverstock. Dr Baverstock is a published author and a senior lecturer on the Publishing MA at Kingston University. Kingston University is a public research university located in Kingston upon Thames, southwest London, England, UK. It was originally foundedalison b in 1899 and became a university in 1992. Campuses are located in Kingston and Roehampton. She divides her time between writing and teaching roughly 50:50, although the activities are mutually reinforcing. Gill Hines is  a freelance Education and Parenting Consultant, trainer, and author covering many aspects of Health and Wellbeing Education including Sex and Relationships Education.

Although my daughters are young adults now, I am in touch with parents who have children of all ages, and I am always interested in reading current recommendations. As I read it, I wished I had had access to the advice when my girls were younger. The subtitle of this book is, ‘Parenting the bright and challenging child’ and I am sure I would have found it extremely useful.

The ‘bright and challenging’ children described in this book are defined as being ‘smart , sassy and sparky, with just a hint of precociousness. At best, they have an unshakeable self-belief; at worst, a touch of arrogance.’ There are further explanations of what is meant by this category of child, who is rather different from the dreamy, perceptive and rather disorganised ‘spirited’ one.

A bright and challenging child is very testing to his or her parents. Although being bright does not necessarily mean that the child is highly academic, or that they will do well in school, although of course the child may be extremely it's not fairintelligent. The identification is more related to the child living in the moment, being very self-aware and verbal, able to argue his point clearly, and frequently wearing his parents down. Modern recommended parenting methods, that include explaining any boundaries or requests with careful logic, are not necessarily helpful with this kind of child. They may be able to argue successfully with their parents.

Problems arise when children like this do not consider those around them, since they are often unable to consider long-term consequences of their actions. As teenagers, they are more likely than most to experiment with dangerous or anti-social behaviours such as heavy drinking, drugs, or promiscuity. They usually like being the centre of attention, whether for positive or negative reasons, and are much more interested in their present feelings and desires than any thought of the future.

The book is very well-written, full of anecdotes about bright and challenging children, with advice about what to do, and what not to do. There are questionnaires, places for parents to pause and think about certain aspects of parenting, and some excellent suggestions in the later chapters for preparing their children for the temptations of the teenage years.

It’s Not Fair is really intended for parents of children from eight to twelve, and most of the suggestions and recommendations are appropriate for these ages. However, some children are clearly bright and challenging from a much younger age, and some teenagers are the despair of their parents due to consistently negative behaviour of the sort described in this book. So I feel it would be appropriate for parents of any age children who are finding it hard to deal with them. I found It’s Not Fair to be interesting, useful and easy to read. I highly recommend it.

Valerie Penny

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