I'm not sure how many books have been published by and about the Robertson family, the stars of the popular reality TV show Duck Dynasty. A quick search at Amazon.com shows at least several dozen. They have cornered the market, it seems, on duck calls through their Duck Commander company, and are working on taking a big chunk of the market of celebrity biography/cookbook/self-help/inspirational books, too.
Korie Robertson, with help from her husband Willie and her mother, Chrys Howard (side note: Mrs. Howard, a former teacher and publishing executive, co-authored a couple of books with Willie's mom.) has published a parenting book. Strong and Kind: and Other Important Character Traits Your Child Needs to Succeed focusses on building character in your children. Rather than focussing on some of the traditional topics of parenting books, Korie writes that after 20 years of parenting her 5 kids, she believes "the most important thing for parents to decide . . . is what values are important to your family and how you will go about instilling those values in your children."
Korie and Willie have chosen to focus on two: strength and kindness. (I couldn't help thinking of Cinderella's mother's dying admonition to her daughter: "Have courage and be kind.") They challenge their readers to select these or any other pair of virtues to teach their children. Different parent and child personalities will lend some values to be more fitting than others. Besides strength and kindness they discuss self-control, honesty, compassion, patience, joy, loyalty, and humility. They write that this list is not exhaustive, and that there is much overlap among some of these, but that by choosing to emphasize two, many of the others naturally develop.
The best way to instill these values is to let your children see you living them out. "Leading by example is the number one way to teach children any behavior you want them to have." And it has to be deliberate and intentional. "If we want our kids to behave a certain way, then we have to make that decision and do the things necessary to make that happen." The role of the parent is to set the tone, and to make the home a place where these values are modeled, lived, and encouraged.
I have yet to see an episode of Duck Dynasty (I know, I know, I should). This is the fifth book I've read by Robertson family members, and I must say that based on what I've read, I am been impressed with this extended family, the values they embrace and the way they live and display their values. They're not perfect, nor do they claim to be. They have recognized that due to the popularity of their TV show, they have a unique position from which they can write about their lives and inspire many.
Korie and Willie may not have degrees in child psychology, but they have plenty to share from their family's wisdom and experience. Willie sums up their parenting philosophy like this: "Our goal is to be in heaven with our children and for them to live on earth as strong and kind people." That's as good a summary of parenting goals as I've read. If you share those goals, Strong and Kind is good inspiration to get you there.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!