Now that we’ve gotten past that personal stuff in the first blog, let’s get down to the good stuff… the resources.
When I was planning there may have been (read: there was) possibly (definitely) a little panic about where to start. The first few seconds of panic went something like… “This is a big decision; this will set the tone for the blog; where could I possibly start?” Enter seven thousand ideas.
But the following 3 seconds went like this… deep breath… “Let me start where I started”.
And so, I will.
When I began grad school every professor was so different. Different in their personalities, teaching approach, theoretical approach, names, addresses, social security numbers… you get it… but they all agreed on a few things. One of them being that we needed to read Parenting from the Inside Out: How a Deeper Self-Understanding Can Help You Raise Children Who Thrive by Daniel Siegel and Mary Hartzell, like, immediately. What a great place for me to start my blogging journey, right where I began my therapy journey.
Before I really dive in, let me tell you one thing. I do not love when I am reading blogs, say a food blog, and I have to scroll down through cutesy anecdotes and tales of triumph and tragedy until my fingers bleed before I find even a hint of an ingredient list, or for heaven’s sake, the recipe itself. I’m not going to do that to you folks, with the exception of this useless paragraph, which I hope you’ll forgive me for. I want to give you useful things in a format that is quick and easy to read so you can focus on using what I’m saying, not reading until you’re holding your eyes open with toothpicks.
So, back to the point. This book was groundbreaking! This was one of the first parenting books out there that asked parents to look into themselves to be a better parent! I just listened to Dr. Siegel give a talk where he mentioned that something like 25 publishers turned this book down. They all said that parents want action points, things that they could do to work on their kids. No parent would buy a book that asked them to work on themselves first. Thank goodness for the 26th publisher!
Dr Siegel and Mary Hartzell open the book with the sentence “How you make sense of your childhood experiences has a profound effect on how you parent your own children.” Notice that they are not saying your childhood experiences effect how you parent your own
children. Rather, it is how you make sense of them. The book asks parents to take a look at their own experiences and form a coherent narrative in order to assist their children in forming coherent narratives of their own experiences.
The book relies heavily on neuroscience to explain how to form this narrative and why it is so impactful in how we engage with our children. Neuroscience can be a scary word, even for someone who studied it (please don’t quiz me, it’s been a really long time). The great news is that Dr. Siegel is a master at making it accessible. The book does a wonderful job of explaining our complex brain in easy to understand ways, and then linking that knowledge to the parenting portion of the book.
The book explores so much, but my main takeaway (which may not be yours) was to choose how I react to my children, rather than to just react. The emotions that come up initially in reaction to something are informed by our past experiences, and we have the choice to react upon those emotions in the moment, or to be mindful of the role those emotions play in our narrative and make a different choice. It is truly liberating to know that that choice is out there for all of us. And if your kids are like my kids, we get the chance to make that choice many times a day!
Dr. Siegel has written many wonderful books which demonstrate how being mindful, combined with some knowledge of how our brains work, can lead to much more compassionate and in-tune parenting. Parenting that is really meant for the child.
And this brings me to my last point. I value this book because it asks the parents to do the work first. So many parents drop their kids off at therapy without even checking in on how they are doing or giving the therapist an update. And often when family sessions are held, there is a lot of resistance towards any work on the parents’ part. Listen, I am a busy, tired, and occasionally (read: often) overwhelmed parent myself. There is no judgement here. But, what a great model to give your child in therapy… to say, I’m willing to do the work too, we’re in this together. If we are asking our children to look into themselves through therapy, it is amazing modeling to take the first step yourself.
If you’d like to read a sample of the book or buy it, click the link below:
Parenting from the Inside Out: How a Deeper Self-Understanding Can Help You Raise Children Who Thrive: 10th Anniversary Edition
If you’d like to read my disclosures click here.
Enjoy the read!