Childhood has changed. Endless hours of playing in dirt, working beside parents, and sitting down to a dinner with your family has been replaced by a mad rush to get to the next activity, run through drive-through for a bite to eat, and then sitting down to watch advertisement filled television. Interactions between parent and child are limited and stressful. Instead of building a life-long relationship with our children, families are being driven apart and individuals find themselves looking to fill those roles with what the media deems as necessary.
Nancy Carlsson-Paige addresses these issues and more in her book, Taking Back Childhood. Building off of the work of Jean Piaget and Marshall Rosenberg, she has presented the concepts of consensual living in a gentle, non-confrontational way which would appeal to those gentle parents who aren’t quite on board with the paradigm shift of consensual living. Addressing topics such as age and developmentally appropriate behavior, I-statements, active listening, win-win conflict resolution, and descriptive observations rather than judgements, Carlsson-Paige has a firm understanding of non-violent communication.
She has also linked much of the downfall of families to the media marketed violence children experience, citing a drastic change in marketing to children during Reagan’s administration when limitations on marketing and media were lifted. Today’s children are viewing an unprecedented amount of television and movies, all conveniently chock full of advertisements. Instead of playing creatively, they are learning how marketers dictate that they should play, with mass marketed toys which play for them.
The author’s easy going writing style is an assest to this book, along with the strength of her subjects. However, it’s my opinion that she has tried to take on too many topics in one book. Both aspects, consensual living and marketed media, would make stronger books on their own. The constant switching between topics detracts from the finer points and takes away from the strength of the ideas.