Family therapist, health and wellness executive, and writer Dolan-Del Vecchio (The Pet Loss Companion, 2013, etc.) offers common-sense parenting advice.
The author expands upon the traditional adage that children are a gift by averring that parents can also be gifts to their children—that is, if they’re attentive, caring parents. He expounds upon this idea over the course of five chapters, exploring different types of habits (“Habits of Heart and Mind,” “People Habits,” “Spiritual Habits,” and “Healthy Habits”) and concluding with a discussion of “Reflection and Reward.” Each chapter is divided into titled sections, with a list of the most important points at the end of each. Throughout the book, Dolan-Del Vecchio emphasizes another theme: that parents should develop “power with” rather than “power over” their children. The latter, as the name suggests, is about dominance and control, while “power with” emphasizes doing the best for both parent and offspring. The author writes from his own experience as a father and a family therapist, backing up his suggestions with examples and stories, including details from his private life that make him a more relatable adviser: “While I want to consistently show love, I have also caught myself letting my attention drift, impatiently, when Erik needed a listening ear.” In general, he advocates a compassionate, gentle style of parenting, with a strong emphasis on simply being present for one’s kids. He also notes that parents should not beat themselves up over past mistakes but rather learn from them and move forward. Another key point is that one should accept a child’s uniqueness instead of trying to mold him or her into an ideal. Dolan-Del Vecchio writes in a very clear, straightforward style, eschewing unfamiliar jargon. The deliberately short sections, despite their presence in very long chapters, make the book easy to read, and the bullet points and summaries effectively reinforce important ideas. The author also avoids overusing pithy quotations from other experts, but he does use a few very effectively—particularly one from the late Fred Rogers of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.
Expertly crafted parenting advice that advocates gentleness and presence above all else.