About the Book
A book for the contemporary family on establishing meaningful traditions, trust, and intimacy, for the traditional nuclear family, the single-parent household, or gay or lesbian families. Whatever the values, whatever the definition of “family,” this book examines spiritual wellness within a constantly shifting world.
From Publishers Weekly
This book is filled with real common sense and kindness. In a way it has two goals: one to free the family from the Ozzie-and-Harriet mold; the other to foster a loving, moral, creative atmosphere within its revised parameters. Dean (Letters to My Birthmother) provides a brief sketch of the history of the Western family, of the African- American family, the adoptive family, and the gay family, and she does succeed in reminding readers of the malleability of family structure. Families can now be headed by single mothers; they can be step-families, mixed marriages, gay and lesbian partnerships; and trying to enforce a rigid view of how the family should be configured doesn’t guarantee bettering its internal dynamic. Dean details what makes a good family and offers solid pointers on fostering it. Privacy is a must, as are responsibility and morality, and nothing replaces a combination of love and example as a means of teaching them. Dean has a good eye for the telling detail.
Dean’s childhood was marked by experiences culture-war agitators consider reprehensible: her birth mother was 17 and unmarried; her adoptive mother was an alcoholic; she lived in foster care for several years and then with her adoptive parents, in a complex web of loving, caring people who did not fit the rigid notion of the American family portrayed in 1950s sitcoms. It is thus no surprise that her upbeat advice on strengthening healthy family bonds challenges the notion “that there is only one ‘legitimate’ family structure and only one way of living together as a househol d.” Dean, author of a number of self-help books, summarizes historical research on U.S. family structures before examining vital functions the “family soul” performs in people’s (especially children’s) lives and suggesting specific “family values,” such as sensitivity, self-expression, and “the three Rs” (responsibility, respect, and right and wrong, needed in “growing a family’s soul.” A clear-eyed, encouraging discussion of a topic often clouded by myths and misplaced moral judgments.