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The only person you can control is yourself.
on August 2, 2005
"ScreamFree Parenting," by Hal Runkel, is an excellent parenting guide that will help moms and dads everywhere to keep (or regain) their sanity. Runkel is a licensed family and marriage therapist and one of the founders of ScreamFree Living, Inc. His thesis is that parents cannot keep tabs on their kids 24/7, nor can they force their children to consistently behave in a certain way. Therefore, mothers and fathers would be better off learning to focus on how they react to their children's words and actions.
Parents, Runkel contends, should take stock of themselves. Are they in control of their behavior when they interact with their children? Or are they at the mercy of their "emotional reactivity"--their unthinking, knee-jerk reactions? If the latter is true, it is likely that parent-child interactions will be tense, angry, and unproductive.
All of us who have struggled with parental responsibilities instinctively realize that a calm and reasoned approach is far more effective than a hysterical and dictatorial one. However, because of fatigue, ignorance, or inertia, many of us impulsively lash out, saying things that we don't really mean when our kids push our buttons. What to do?
Runkel does not advocate permissiveness. Rather, he recommends what he calls "judo parenting." Judo is "the art of going with another's momentum." A ScreamFree parent facilitates rather than dictates; he encourages his children to use their own resources to solve problems. By helping kids to get in the habit of making their own decisions and living with the consequences, parents will be more likely to launch "self-directed" adults.
The writing is clear, concise, humorous, and to-the-point. "ScreamFree Parenting" is conveniently divided into easy-to-read sections and the chapters all conclude with thought-provoking "reflection questions." In addition, there are many practical examples that demonstrate how the principles discussed in the book work in the real world. Runkel's amusing quotations from a wide variety of sources add liveliness to his message. In additon, there are lengthier anecdotes that are taken from the author's experiences as a family therapist. Most parents will pick up many useful tips from "ScreamFree Parenting." It is an entertaining, intelligent, and practical approach to raising our kids without losing our minds.