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Talking with Your Children About a Troubled World.

Lynne S. Dumas. New York: Ballantine Books, 1992. 335 pp. $18.00. A child's world is a most dangerous place. Childhood today is far more complex and contains more potential for mishap than it did for many of us. As new issues emerge with alarming frequency, the myriad dangers that children face in contemporary society surpass those of recent social history.

Correspondingly, parents face a host of new and baffling issues that impinge upon effective caregiving and preparation of their children for the adult world. Issues relating to AIDS, homelessness, environmental pollution and world violence extend far beyond the difficulties experienced by our parents or our grandparents. Certainly, the need to help children understand and cope with the complexities of their world has become a monumental task confronting effective parenting.

Using an issue-oriented approach, Dumas examines child-rearing in a complex society coping with drugs, job loss, divorce and other problems. She focuses upon each issue, discussing techniques that enable parents to address these assorted issues with their children. In many cases, questions and answers likely to be generated in parent-child exchanges are included. Each chapter also offers valuable additional resources and readings for parents and children.

While the content takes the form of a "how to" book, the quality of the writing and the sensitivity of the author surpass the average book of this genre. To illustrate, the chapter on racism and prejudice offers the reader some background information on the formation of racial attitudes, anecdotes of the author's teaching experience with race and a "script" for adults to follow in addressing this important issue.

Unfortunately, the author assumes that deeply experienced emotional issues such as race and prejudice (among adults) can be easily addressed through logical arguments and that adults can escape their own prejudices in addressing emotionally charged issues such as race. She further assumes that a literature-inspired, isolated approach to complex issues can be effective and that communicating with children can follow a step-by-step process. A significant level of adult skill and sophistication would be required to employ this scheme effectively. Among trained or educated professionals, such as teachers, this book has value. Reviewed by Stewart Cohen, Professor of Human Development, Counseling and Family Studies, University of Rhode Island, Kingston
COPYRIGHT 1993 Association for Childhood Education International
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Author:Cohen, Stewart
Publication:Childhood Education
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jan 1, 1993
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