A debut guide to becoming a fun, supportive parent.
Many people believe they’ll be good parents before they actually have a child. Then they fall apart at the piercing screams of a toddler’s tantrum, or wonder why a child refuses to go to sleep. Authors Wipfler and Schore wrote this book for these moments. They assure parents that their children are normal, despite behavior that seems unmoored. More importantly, they reassure parents that they are normal, too—that feelings of anger and resentment are natural companions to joy and wonderment. Wipfler and Schore call their method “Hand in Hand Parenting,” because they posit that families function best when parents and children feel close and connected. They recommend five tools for strengthening those connections: “Regular Special Time,” with parents giving full attention to an activity that the child chooses; “Staylistening,” or remaining close but largely quiet as a child works through emotional upsets; “Setting Limits,” so that children do not hurt themselves or others; “Playlistening,” or play that elicits stress-relieving laughter; and “the Listening Partnership,” in which parents share feelings and experiences with other understanding adults. Together, the authors say, these tools head off problems and let children do necessary emotional work. The book’s structure allows busy parents to quickly find solutions to specific problems and shares expertise in a fun, flowing style: “We win our children’s hearts (and respect) when we get down on our knees and wrestle with them,” the authors note. “We can bond with one another over watermelon-seed-spitting contests and squirt-gun battles.” Overall, the book offers plenty of wisdom. However, the authors should have cited specific, scientific research to back up some claims. They tell many stories of children who seem to be processing the negative emotions of their own difficult births, for example, but they provide no evidence that proves that trauma is actually stored that way. Some of their solutions, such as sharing deep emotions, may not be comfortable for everyone. That said, the authors will likely help parents find imaginative, calm ways to help their children become adults.
A parenting manual that’s soft on research but warm, wise, and often original.