Happy Family

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Many parents claim they’re too busy raising their kids to stop and read a book about how to do it better. Bruce Feiler, who has a full plate as a successful writer and dad of two, decided to make improving family life his business in his new book, “The Secrets of Happy Families: Improve Your Mornings, Rethink Family Dinner, Fight Smarter, Go Out and Play, and Much More” (William Morrow).

The scene at Feiler’s house, with his working wife and now 8-year-old twin daughters, is similar to most families: active and stressful. Feiler’s goal was to put out a playbook for happy families to make life more efficient, relaxed and fun.

But instead of seeking advice from traditional sources, he consulted people at the top of their game in business, technology, sports and the military about innovative ideas they take from the boardroom to the playroom.

The best-selling author is known for tackling tough issues, including family, mortality and faith, and making them accessible to readers. In this book, he offers useful advice on everything from weekly allowances to road trip games to sex talks. But it’s Feiler’s perspective and voice that sets it apart from other work in both the parenting and happiness genres.

The book is organized and easy to digest. It’s broken down into sections on the importance of families adapting to change, communicating and taking time to play. Each chapter takes on a new family challenge, including sharing meals, tackling difficult conversations, creating a more functional and comfortable home, and managing extended family.

Feiler will win readers from the get-go when he says the nearly 200 books he read by child-rearing experts and therapists were dated and out of touch with the reality of modern families.

His healthy mix of enthusiasm and skepticism for the solutions he uncovers instills trust in the reader. In each chapter, Feiler test-drives the methods he presents on his own family. Not afraid to admit their failures, his...
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