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"Susan's work is brilliant. If you buy just one parenting book this year, make it this one!" Thom Hartmann, author of Healing ADD
"One of the most user-friendly, practical and engaging guides to parenting I've ever come across." Janet Bray Attwood, co-author of the NY Times bestseller The Passion Test
"A must-read for every parent and grandparent. An exceptional book I will refer to often for assistance in helping all the families we serve." Maria D'Angelo, founder, Children's Lifesaving Foundation
Imagine life without drama, meltdowns, and power struggles From celebrity parents to everyday moms and pops, single parents to grandparents, most of us know what to do when our kids behave. But let's face it: family life can get downright crazy, and it's at those moments that we most need to keep our cool. Family therapist Susan Stiffelman has shown thousands of parents how to be the cool, confident "Captain of the ship" in their children's lives. Based on her successful practice and packed with real-life stories, Susan shares proven strategies and crystal clear insights to motivate kids to cooperate and connect. Parenting without Power Struggles is an extraordinary guidebook for transforming your day-to-day parenting life. You'll discover how to: • Transform frustration and aggression into adaptation and cooperation • Keep your cool when your kids push your buttons, talk back or refuse to "play nice" • Nourish deep attachment with young and older kids • Help your ADD'ish child survive and thrive, even if you’re ADD'ish yourself • Inoculate your kids from negative thinking and peer pressure that lead to anger, anxiety, depression, or behavior issues • Help children manage the emotional challenges of divorce
Susan Stiffelman seems to be a wonderful therapist with a talent for generating specific, feasible strategies for caregivers in need of guidance; her book, however, adds little to the parenting advice genre.
In order to create joyful, resilient kids, Stiffelman urges parents to take a "Captain of the Ship" role which derives unwavering authority from a foundation of empathy-based parenting. Her approach essentially combines "Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child" - the empathy bible - and "Parenting with Love & Logic" - the definitive source for "consultant parenting" whereby a parent distances herself emotionally from her kids' problems in order to remain a steady and firm source of support. Unfortunately for Stiffelman, the gorgeous melding of yin and yang accomplished by merging these two methods (i.e., feel with them enough to understand and respect their ups and downs but don't rise and fall with their emotions) is better achieved by reading those two books.
That said, Stiffelman has an interesting take on a few of Gottman's and Cline/Fay's best points - and a softer, more maternal tone - that might be a better fit for some readers:
- "Focus on loosening your need for your child to behave properly so that you can feel you're a good parent, [and e]xplore the meaning you're assigning to your child's problematic behavior." After all, "it's always our thoughts about the events of our lives - rather than the events themselves - that cause us to get upset.Read more ›
I've just read Susan Stiffelman's book, Parenting Without Power Struggles, and the title alone is enough to make a weary parent sigh. Finally, a book that resonates with my parenting instincts and offers concrete, do-able suggestions for accomplishing what sometimes seems to be the impossible: maintaining authority or as the author so lovingly calls it, being the 'captain of the ship,' while encouraging and deepening a loving bond between parent and child. How often have you walked away after yelling at your child out of sheer frustration and felt crummy, thinking 'this isn't right.' She addresses so many of our common areas of power struggle, like HOMEWORK. She also encourages us to 'celebrate our children' but not in a false manner that leaves them dependent and ill-equipped for the world. For busy parents, aren't we all, the book is laid out in short, easily readable chapters. A great place to start that will surely pique your interest are the Check Lists in the very back of the book, Checklist #1 and Checklist #2. Check it out!!! Anna Anawalt, Los Angeles, Caliornia
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In the 6 years we have been parents, my husband has read 2 books, The Expectant Father and Parenting without Power Struggles. I have read more, which I'm sure is not uncommon. This book has made us better parents and has also made us better partners in parenting. Susan's methods are a mix of practical, developmentally appropriate approaches that are easy to implement in day to day situations. When one of us is struggling, we talk about the book to each other, and that helps us regain perspective. In some ways, Susan has become an absentee referee in our own parenting disagreements. He's more old-school, I'm more touchy-feely. This book met us in the middle. In some chapters she affirmed some things we were already doing and in others she gave us new perspective into what was really going on between us and the kids. I want to say that this book has some good old fashioned advice, but it's not old fashioned in it's presentation or reasoning. In our case, this book helped us as much with the power struggles between us as parents, as between us and the kids.
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Susan Stiffelman's book and wisdom has changed my life and has helped me engender a relationship with my daughter that I had always dreamed of. My advice would be to sit down with this very user friendly book and see parenting from the eyes of someone that knows the very heart of this territory. When I follow Susan's advice and come along side my daughter first, just listening during what she calls ACT I, I always find the perfect opening to then take on my role of captain of the ship--as she calls it--during the the following ACT II, if even necessary.
Susan's stories and examples are compelling, heartwarming, and just downright friendly. One of my favorites and one that has actually helped me a lot is her discussion of "Little Fear Guy" in the chapter about depression and anxiety. I remember how I laughed when she described her Little Fear Guy to be Barney Fife from Andy Griffith, who always got the town folk stirred up about some imagined threat or danger. I realized from this example that by encouraging a child to objectify the source of their worry generator, and recognize it as well intentioned but not always accurate in it's depiction of what's going on, they can then feel empowered to update Little Fear Guy with new information that tells them that their survival is truly not at risk.
This is by far transcends all other parenting books that I have read, it truly is inspired and brilliant.
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Susan Stiffelman is a unique blend of licensed therapist, credentialed teacher, beloved auntie and down to earth mom. Her book, Parenting Without Power Struggles is based on her work with thousands of parents and children, from celebrities to everyday moms and pops.
In her book, Susan offers mainstream, rubber meets the road advice that has been thoroughly tested on kids of all ages and demographics. At the same time, her approach to raising kids falls into step with the understanding of people like Eckhart Tolle and Marianne Williamson who recognize that parenting is in its own way a spiritual journey.
She's an adventurer (she took her 15 year old son on a two and a half month trip to Uganda, Tanzania, Australia and New Zealand), a visionary (homeschooled him in his early years when it was considered rather "iffy") and is an outside-the-box thinker (taught herself Hindi as a teenager by calling people named "Singh" out of the phone book!) Diagnosed with the ADHD label, she manages to accomplish more in a week than many do in a month, while maintaining a regular meditation practice and spending serious amounts of time playing.
Susan divides her time between Malibu, California with her son (when he's home from college), her dog Rosie, and a full and grateful heart.