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Learning To Parent Without Perfection

by Kristen Howerton

Pub Date: June 9th, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-9848-2516-2
Publisher: Convergent/Crown

Why it’s OK not to be a perfect parent.

In her first book, Howerton, a marriage and family therapist, gives readers a refreshing take on parenting: Relax. Nobody is perfect. As the mother of four children, two adopted and two biological, the author is well equipped to offer advice. “Hopefully,” she writes, “this book will help you rage against the narratives of motherhood and life and relationships and gender that tell us we aren’t enough.” Among other topics, she shares her tragic experiences with multiple miscarriages, her long wait to officially adopt her first son, and the confusion people experienced when encountering her mixed-race family. Howerton’s tone is refreshingly authentic and upfront but not cheeky, sassy, or heavy-handed as it attempts to hit the laugh-out-loud button. “The truth is that contentment is an inside job,” she writes. “So is authenticity. Validation doesn’t come from magazines, blogs, Facebook feeds, or even your best friends. It doesn’t come from looking like you have it all together online.” So forget unattainable goals, she writes; “it’s about opting out of the comparison game and giving ourselves permission to fail, to get back up, and to love with our whole hearts again the next day.” Nothing offers more proof of that maxim than Howerton’s story of her trip to Haiti with a newborn to see her adoptive son at the time of the massive earthquake that devastated the country. She also explores her difficult decision to divorce her pastor husband despite their deeply religious community, which led to “some of the darkest [years] of my life. Many days, not crying in public or in front of my kids was the best I could do.” Ultimately, Howerton shows the good and the bad sides of parenting and encourages readers to breathe easier when contemplating their own inadequacies.

A candid and witty alternative to more formulaic parenting books.