Sunday, October 17, 2010

Michael Grose - 'Thriving' on our insecurities...

Yes, I agree, that's a harsh title...but it serves a purpose.  Firstly it fulfils my pathological addiction to groanworthy puns; secondly it introduces Michael's most recent book; and thirdly it sums up the the discomfort I feel about the way Michael Grose appears to be utterly commercially driven.

Michael Grose is an Australian parenting guru, who has been steadily churning out books, DVDs, parenting programs, seminars, syndicated newspaper columns, school newsletter inserts and more recently a blog and e-newsletter.  He has been writing for at least the past 20 years, and his own children are now grown up, and making their own way in the world.  His books include Raising Happy Kids, Great Ideas for (Tired) Parents, One step Ahead: Raising 3-12-year-olds, and, most recently, Thriving:Raising Exceptional Kids with Confidence, Character and Resilience.  His books are available through mainstream bookshops, and his webpage, Parenting Ideas, (there's a link on the right hand side of this page).  Most libraries also have a copy or two of some of his books.

My husband heard Michael inteviewed on the Radio National Life Matters program earlier in the year, and was impressed enough to mention it to me, and to remember the title of the book.  This was a strong enough recommendation for me to go out and buy the book.  And I'm glad I did. But I wouldn't buy another one unless it was on special.  I'll explain why soon.

Thriving is acessible and enjoyable.  It sets out Michael's theories about parenting, which are fairly straightforward and uncontroversial: we should focus on nurturing a family rather than needy individuals, children should pitch in and help out from an early age, parents are boss but corporal punishment is inappropriate, etc etc.  He justifies these and gives helpful strategies for achieving them.

The book is astutely structured.  The first chapter is dedicated to explaining the importance of balance in parents' lives, as opposed to becoming a martyr to our children. (He had me onside immediately!). He suggests that our order of priority should be 1.Me  2.My marriage/partnership 3.My family. After disscussing the importance of building one's own resilience as a parent, the book is divided into sections on building confidence, developing character and promoting resilience in kids - all worthy aims.

Thriving is well written, easy to read, undogmatic, and presents some good ideas, and if I was to buy only one Michael Grose book, this would probably be a good one to choose (being the most recently published, it would also be the easiest to source too!).  But I think this one would be enough, as I am quickly discovering through my further reading of his books and online publications, the information and ideas in Thriving are not all that different from his earlier work.  I borrowed Great Ideas for (Tired) Parents from my local library, and discovered that although it was first published almost 20 years ago, all the underlying ideas and suggestions are the same as presented in Thriving.  Michael's thinking doesn't appear to have evolved or refined to any great extent in 20 years.  He is just repackaging and reselling the same ideas, which is probably very commercially astute, but I feel it is a little unethical.

His website is worth a quick look, it is divided into sections for parents and educators, and there is a sale on this week.

Verdict: Buy or Borrow? ......Borrow! (But worth reading)

Next week:  The parenting book I have found most useful during my children's 'early childhood' phase...


  1. Hi Antonia,

    Interesting observations about Thriving and also my motivations for working in the parenting area.

    I'm happy to be interviewed about what drives me, which would enable you to get an accurate picture about me rather than basing your thoughts on views from afar.

    As far as I know you have not contacted my publicist or my office regarding an interview before witing your blog post.

    Kind regards,

    Michael Grose

  2. Hi Michael,

    I appreciate the time you took to read and respond to my post. Thank you. It made my day to discover that people outside my small circle of friends would take an interest in my blog.

    Thank you too for your kind offer of an interview. I would be delighted if you would agree to an interview, or perhaps a guest post about a topic of your choice. What would be the best way for me to contact you to sort out the details?

    Many thanks,