The Greatness Chair (2019) by Kathleen Friend. Words Matter Publishing. 80 pp. ISBN 13: 978-1-949809-36-7; ISBN 10: 1-949809-36-6.
Kathleen Friend is a Child Psychiatrist, mother, musician, heart rhythm meditation teacher and a lover of books. In all these areas she has probably seen the damage corrections and negativity can cause by well-meaning grown-ups. It is a wall we parents walk upon where one side is leniency (children need to make their own mistakes and recover from them) and the other authoritarian protection (if I give a child too much self-direction, they will make the wrong friends and end up using drugs). I was blessed with having three of my five children in a cooperative nursery and kindergarten. That’s where I really started learning how to parent. Where was this book when I needed it?
Avi is the star of this story. We follow him through his not-so-good day. He was late getting out of bed and getting on the bus. By eight a.m. his teacher demanded he sit still and give him his homework. He was chastised on the playground for running too fast, then late for lunch. You can imagine how the rest of his day went. He returned home hungry and tired where his father greeted him with, “Take your muddy shoes off. Can’t you remember anything? Is your brain Swiss cheese?” After back and forth yelling, Avi was sent to the time out chair for 10 minutes where he fell asleep. In his dream, a fairy named Zoe invited him to sit in the Greatness Chair and create a list of all his greatness qualities. I won’t spoil the beautiful ending for you.
There is nothing that thrills me more than to see families interacting with strength and positivity. I used to have to hold myself back from approaching distressed parents and giving them a glimmer of support and hope. Then I became brave when I figured out how to do it without shaming or blaming. It is a learning process, as is parenting.
Anyone working with children or adults can learn to build people up rather than tearing them down. Friend’s book is so incredible that when I win the lottery, I’m going to send a copy to each household for parents to read to their children. It would be powerful for both adults and children to share this learning experience.
Reviewed by Barbara Hotelling, MSN, RN, LCCE, FACCE, AdvBD(DONA), CHT
Clinical Nurse Educator, Duke University School of Nursing
JOPPPAH Book Editor