Growing up in Roslyn Heights, Joanna Faber didn’t consider herself the child of a parenting expert though her mother, Adele Faber, had written best-selling books on the subject.
“I didn’t think about my mom being a writer and parenting expert,” Joanna Faber said. “I grew up in this nice home where parents accepted their children’s feelings and if there was a conflict they would turn to problem solving rather than punishment.”
“It was a very nice way to grow up,” she added.
This month Joanna Faber and her childhood friend Julie King followed in Adele Faber’s footsteps with the release of their own parenting book: “How to Talk So Little Kids Will Listen: A Survival Guide to Life with Children Ages 2-7,” published by Scribner.
“Young children are wacky,” Joanna Faber said. “They have the energy of a tornado and the analytic skills of a tornado. Parents get pretty beleaguered as they have to manage these nutty little people.”
The book and its title were inspired by Adele Faber’s most popular work, “How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk,” which topped the New York Times Bestseller list and has been translated into 30 languages.
“People are very enthusiastic about my mom’s work but what my co-author and I would hear over and over is: ‘what do you do when?'” Joanna Faber said. “What do you do when a child refuses to brush his teeth or pops out of bed at night. People crave more specific examples, not theory.”
Joanna Faber “didn’t foresee” going into her mother’s line of work.
After graduating from SUNY Purchase in Westchester with a degree in language and culture, Joanna Faber went on to earn a master’s degree in education from Lehman College in the Bronx.
She then taught elementary school children in West Harlem for 10 years.
“I went into teaching because the work that interested me was working with kids,” she said. “Julie [King] was talking about writing a book. My mother said, ‘you have great stories and you should write them down.’ I said, ‘no, no, no.’ I resisted. Eventually they overcame my resistance and here we have this book.”
In the meantime, Joanna Faber taught parenting workshops near her home in Putnam Valley, New York, while her childhood friend King did the same where she lived in San Francisco.
“Julie and I were stewed in the same pot growing up,” Joanna Faber said. “She graduated with a law degree but found she was more interested in consensus than in the combat of law, so she tried veering toward mediation,” Joanna Faber recalled.
“One of her kids had sensory issues and another was on the autism spectrum so that pulled her toward parenting issues.”
Adele Faber said she has enjoyed witnessing the longtime friendship of her daughter and King.
“It’s sweet,” she said. “There are few people in your life who you touch base with and there is that flood of memory and connection.”
The book is not only a collaboration between friends but between members of the Faber family. Adele Faber wrote the introduction and Sam Faber-Manning, one of Joanna Faber’s three children, drew comics that appear alongside the text.
“It’s something of a family project,” Joanna Faber said. “I could tell my children were a little leery I was telling stories about them from when they were very little,” she said.
“Then they read the book and laughed.”