Book Review – “Roots and Wings – Childhood needs a Revolution” ( Alex Koster M.Ed.) by Clare Fahey (nee Flannery)
As a newly minted mum of three since January it’s safe to say “Roots and wings – Childhood needs a Revolution” came into my life at just the right time! I’ve always strived to be a gentle and empathetic parent but things went a little awry in the first few weeks of 2018 after number three arrived.
Adding a new family member is always a bit of an upheaval. But a tough mix of sibling rivalries, new-born sleep deprivation, frustration with early breastfeeding difficulties (despite feeding my toddler for 28 months & thinking I knew it all!!) and cold, dark winter days with too much time with us all spent indoors (with more tv than I’d like to admit to!!) meant that voices and tempers were often raised (mine, hubby’s and our 6 & 3year old kids’!). This book served as a really great way of taking stock and resetting our whole family dynamic back to the kind, loving bunch we had been as a quartet.
Based on the principles of mindfulness this book goes further than just explaining theories on parenting styles and lecturing to the reader. It provides nicely illustrated examples and exercises to work through with your kids as a family.
As an educator and mother herself the author – Alex Koster – has struck a great tone with this book. Its clear that she is highly knowledgeable and well read; but the book feels almost conversational and the way the chapters are laid out makes it easy to dip in and out without losing track or getting bogged down (handy when baby brain is a factor!!)
“Roots and Wings” is all about guiding parents in how to equip their children with the self-confidence and skills to navigate modern life – which is vastly different to society when most of us were children ourselves! The challenges facing kids today are discussed really openly: the one-size-fits-all approach of the Irish education system, the rise of the internet, social media & screens in our homes, lack of time and connection with nature, the rise in childhood mental health issues and the increasing sense of entitlement modern kids can have are all given an airing. Most importantly the author then shares means of offsetting these potential detriments to our kids’ development and doesn’t just stop short with a list of woes without solutions.
Guidance is given in areas such as:
- Building and maintaining self-esteem in a materialistic and competitive society
• Dealing with new family structures and parenting styles
- Understanding the influence of social media and technology
• Recognising and tackling mental health issues
- Creating healthy parent-child relationships
- Simplifying children’s lives
- Encouraging and modelling kindness
My personal favourite chapter in the book was “The lost art of gratitude” which opens with a great quote:
It’s not happy people who are thankful; it’s thankful people who are happy.
Amen! This chapter and the activities linked to it was the biggest change-maker in our improved family set-up.
Part 2 (which makes up a third of this great little book) is full of more practical tips ideas and exercises. These include many, many mindfulness activities to undertake with your kids (we haven’t even completed half of them yet!), kindness challenges and suggested reading. Several of these resources & print-outs are available for free on the Roots and Wings website that accompanies the book www.rootsandwings.pub. There is also a great Facebook group with daily posts and information shared with members giving a real sense of inclusion and involvement in this movement to revolutionise childhood.
Published in “Natural Parenting Ireland Magazine”
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