Being a parent is hard work and heart work. In a time full of trauma and chaos, parenting requires even more of every mom and dad. This book by clinical psychologist Becky Kennedy is a rich warehouse of tools and resources for millennial parents. When it comes to problem-solving in challenging parenting situations, the author wants to convey one core principle: “Behaviors are only the tip of the iceberg, and below the surface is a child’s entire internal world, just begging to be understood.”
Because children’s behaviors are a window to their internal worlds, problematic behaviors might well be invitation calls for parents to rebuild or deepen that connection. Becky Kennedy compares strategies preparing children for difficult emotional struggles as “emotional vaccination.” “We connect with our kids, discuss and validate the challenge they might soon face, and verbalize or even rehearse how we might handle it—all before it happens.” This book covers common behavioral scenarios, such as tantrums, sibling rivalry, whining, lying, and anxiety as well as issues of consent and self-confidence.
A healing-centered parenting model prioritizes the self-care of a parent as well as the well-being of a child. The goal is to increase connection and closeness in parent-child relationships. On this foundation, parents can walk alongside their children to develop attributes of resilience. These attributes include empathy, active listening, self-acceptance, self-compassion, responsibility, and problem-solving skills. As the author writes, “As a parent, I challenge myself to sit with my child in his feelings of distress so he knows he isn’t alone, as opposed to pulling my child out of this moment, which leaves him alone the next time he finds himself there.”
Although this is not a faith-based book, I read these principles as gems of wisdom with profound incarnational meanings. (Harper Wave)
About the Author
Mary Li Ma is a member of Plymouth Heights CRC church in Grand Rapids, Mich. She holds a Ph.D. from Cornell University and now works as a research analyst for a national research center on education equity.