Way back in 2006...
Pregnant and nervous, Jennifer Lehr felt woefully ill-prepared for the daunting role of being a parent. So she set out to educate herself. Over the course of a decade, she took numerous parenting courses, both practical and theoretical, attended many talks, and read voraciously. All the while, she tried to put into practice what resonated most—to varying degrees of success.
Most notably Jennifer has been influenced by Magda Gerber’s respect-based RIE approach, Ruth Beaglehole's empathy-led Nonviolent parenting as taught by Echo Parenting & Education, and the democratic decision making principals found in Dr. Thomas Gordon’s Parent Effectiveness Training. Among other important influences are Alfie Kohn, A.S. Neill, and Dr. Emmi Pikler.
Seeing the world through the lens of these and other thinkers, Lehr realized just how unnecessarily controlling and patronizing adults often are to children. And nowhere is it more apparent than in the way we talk to kids. In her new book PARENTSPEAK: What's Wrong With How We Talk to Our Children—and What to Say Instead (Workman, 2017) Jennifer examines 14 seemingly innocuous phrases parents commonly use and pinpoints the disconnect between our good intentions and the impact our words have on children. Then she offers a more conscious approach to talking to children rooted in compassion and respect for them as individuals.
The advance praise for PARENTSPEAK from professionals in the fields of education, psychology and child development has been exceptional. Scholar Aflie Kohn hails it as having “a substantive and subversive message of respect for kids.” Author and therapist Katie Hurley calls it, “Funny, relatable, and packed with wisdom,” noting “Lehr has a profound understanding of how language impacts children.” And Rebecca Eanes, author of Positive Parenting calls Parentspeak, “Well researched and insightful,” and believes it “will challenge you in the best way possible.” Dr. Laura Markham shares, “I will be recommending it to everyone."
Lehr is the author of the memoir Ill-Equipped for a Life of Sex (HarperCollins, 2004). Elle magazine selected it as a Must Read calling Lehr's "bracing bluntness and hilarious self-deprecation" "riveting," while Us Weekly hailed it as a "brilliant, razor-sharp read." Ill-Equipped was optioned by Warner Brothers which found a home for the project at ABC. Lehr co-wrote the pilot with her husband John Lehr and Seinfeld writer Peter Mehlman. She is a fellow of the artist colony Yaddo, has written for The Wall Street Journal, The Huffington Post and Babble, recorded for NPR’s All Things Considered and has appeared on local news programs on CBS, NBC, Fox and Comcast.
Lehr's first book 78 Drawings of My Face made a splash when she self-published in 1998. The New York Times Magazine reported, "78 Drawings...is a 500-page illustrated book and biting study of art school as a microcosm...In art school you're told to say what you think, she says, but now half the faculty won't talk to me." Pat Morrison featured 78 Drawings in the Los Angeles Times Magazine and the feminist social critic and author Chris Kraus wrote about it in her book Video Green.
Lehr lives in her native Los Angeles with her family and two dogs.