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  • Writer's pictureAntonia Higgins

Review: The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read (and Your Children Will be Glad That You Did) - Phil

I own up to having a bit of a fangirl crush on Philippa Perry since reading her book 'How to Stay Sane' several years ago. So I was interested to see she had written a parenting book and bought it as soon as it hit the shelves.

I have read a good few parenting books in my time and this work is a breath of fresh air in the parenting book world. Perry favours a gentle and non-judgemental approach to parenting. She talks a lot about empathising with your children, but also with yourself. Repairing your past parenting “ruptures” and recognising that changes can be made now that can change your relationship with your children today and in the future is encouraged. “Even if you only realise that you acted wrongly towards your children moons after it happened, you can still tell them where you got it wrong.”

Although much of it seems focused on parenting younger children, Perry makes the very valid point that, whatever their age now, your children are still your children, and that understanding the ups and downs of your previous parenting - and how you yourself were parented - can help you understand and strengthen your relationship with them now. “It can mean a tremendous amount to a child, even an adult child, when a parent makes a repair.”

She implores us to 'feel with, not deal with' our children, so we respond to their "inconvenient behaviour" as their way of communicating the feelings they can't express, rather than as a means of 'pushing our buttons'. “It helps”, she says “when it comes to managing your own emotions around your child, if you can understand the emotion and the circumstances that caused your child to behave in the way you’re finding hard to deal with.”

The self-reflection exercises throughout the book were helpful pauses offering room to think about aspects of ourselves in relation to parenting - our inner critic and our own judgements, for example - and opportunities to glean some new self-awareness.

There are so many little gems of advice in this book, delivered with warmth, wisdom and reassurance. Being a mum of older children, I wasn’t sure how relevant it was going to be for me. I enjoyed it and found it an easy read, and it certainly gave me food for thought. I think has has prompted me to remember to be a more responsive, less reactive, parent. Which will surely make for a happy, more peaceful household.

Perry, P. (2019). The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read (and Your Children Will be Glad That You Did), Penguin Life, London.

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