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The Good Enough Child: How to Have an Imperfect Family and Be Perfectly Satisfied Paperback – June 5, 2001

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The Good Enough Child: How to Have an Imperfect Family and Be Perfectly Satisfied + The Good Enough Teen: Raising Adolescents with Love and Acceptance (Despite How Impossible They Can Be) + Emptying the Nest: Launching Your Young Adult toward Success and Self-Reliance
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (June 5, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0380813033
  • ISBN-13: 978-0380813032
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,220,054 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In writing about American parents, author Brad Sachs (Things Just Haven't Been the Same) rightly points out that we have become a clan of overly anxious mothers and fathers who place far too much pressure on our children as well as ourselves. He laments that we strive for perfection, pushing children to become musical prodigies, athletic superstars, and superior scholars. Then, when our children fall short of our grandiose (and let's face it, often unrealistic) expectations, parents feel like failures.

Part of the reason parents are so obsessed is that we live in a success-oriented culture, notes Sachs. Parents want their children to have a "competitive edge" in life, hoping that great grades, athletic scholarships, fabulous clothes, or the finest violin teacher will steer them toward wealth, popularity, and happiness. But whose success are we really after? "Is your son's ability to read second-grade level books while still in preschool his success or yours?" asks Sachs. "Exuberant cheerleading of our children in response to behaviors and activities that they do not see as representative of who they really are can actually undercut their self-esteem, making them feel as if their true self is not worthy of expression." (Yes, the road to parenting hell is indeed paved with good intentions.)

As a parent of three children and a seasoned family psychologist, Sachs has immense in-the-trenches experience and compassion when it comes to child rearing. Through real-life case studies, we see how parents can take a step back and accept the "good enough child." For example, we meet a mother who won't let her athletically gifted daughter quit soccer because she thinks her daughter "will regret it" (even though the daughter hates playing and is hankering to quit). It turns out the mother has used soccer to bond with her daughter ever since the girl was a toddler. Without soccer the mother wonders if they would have a connection. Ultimately, they find a new common ground through art and fashion.

In many ways, Sachs's book boils down to helping parents accept their child's limitations while truly seeing, appreciating, and nurturing the child they were given. He arranges the chapters according to the stages of acceptance and family healing--starting with uncovering the problems and finishing with changing the hurtful behaviors. Using the exercises at the end of each chapter, Sachs asks probing questions so that parents can begin to see how they might be contributing to their "child's problem." The author then gives advice on how to back off and be a more understanding, forgiving, flexible, and ultimately "good enough" parent. This is an excellent resource book for parents with children of all ages (babies through teens)--one that is contemporary in its insights and ageless in its wisdom. --Gail Hudson

From Publishers Weekly

In the 1950s, psychoanalyst D.W. Winnicott wrote about the "good enough mother" the mother who makes mistakes but still manages to raise passably healthy children. In The Good Enough Child: How to Have an Imperfect Family and Be Perfectly Satisfied, clinical psychologist Brad E. Sachs goes further, arguing that no one can be the perfect mother or father or have the perfect child. What's more, he boldly posits, that's all right. Although some parents may be alarmed by the book's directness, many will find it reassuring. Sachs is scheduled to appear on NBC's Today Show on June 12. Agent, Sarah Jane Freymann.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Dr. Brad Sachs is a psychologist, speaker, educator and best-selling author specializing in clinical work with children, adolescents, couples, and families, in Columbia, Maryland, and the Founder and Director of The Father Center, a program designed to meet the needs of new, expectant, and experienced fathers.

His forthcoming book is entitled EMPTYING THE NEST: LAUNCHING YOUNG ADULTS TOWARDS SUCCESS AND SELF-RELIANCE (Macmillan/St. Martin's, July, 2010).

His most recent book, WHEN NO ONE UNDERSTANDS: LETTERS TO A TEENAGER ON LIFE, LOSS, AND THE HARD ROAD TO ADULTHOOD, was published in 2007, and is based on his between-sessions correspondence with a suicidal adolescent whom he was treating.

He is the author of numerous other books, including THE GOOD ENOUGH CHILD: HOW TO HAVE AN IMPERFECT FAMILY AND BE PERFECTLY SATISFIED (HarperCollins, 2001), which was named as an Editor's Choice by Amazon.com and became its best-selling parenting title that year. It was featured on NBC's The Today Show, and was excerpted in Family Circle Magazine.

He has also written THE GOOD ENOUGH TEEN: RAISING ADOLESCENTS WITH LOVE AND ACCEPTANCE (DESPITE HOW IMPOSSIBLE THEY CAN BE), (HarperCollins, 2005), and THINGS JUST HAVEN'T BEEN THE SAME: MAKING THE TRANSITION FROM MARRIAGE TO PARENTHOOD (William Morrow, 1992), which was named one of the Top Five Books for New Parents by Child Magazine. His books have been translated into numerous languages, including Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, German, and Danish.

Dr. Sachs regularly writes articles on family life for magazines such as Redbook, Parenting, Parents, Child, and American Baby, is renowned for his creative and innovative treatment of children and families, and has lectured and led seminars and workshops both nationally and internationally. He has been interviewed on over three hundred radio and television shows, including The Today Show, 20/20, The Montel Williams Show, The Sally Jesse Raphael Show, and The Diane Rehm Show.

His original poetry has been collected in IN THE DESPERATE KINGDOM OF LOVE: POEMS 2001-2004, (Chestnut Hills Press, 2005), BLIND DATE: POEMS OF EXPECTANT FATHERHOOD (Chestnut Hills Press), and the forthcoming WHY AM I TELLING YOU THIS? : POEMS FROM PSYCHOTHERAPY.

Dr. Sachs is also a composer and performer, most recently releasing HARD TALES TO TELL, a cycle of sixteen original songs based on the stories his patients have told him. Other recording projects include OPENING DAY: SONGS OF EXPECTANT FATHERHOOD, LOVE SO HARD: SONGS OF MARRIAGE, and the soundtrack for the NPR series on minor league baseball, APPALACHIAN ALMANAC.

He is a graduate of Brown University, where he met his wife, Dr. Karen Meckler, a psychiatrist and medical acupuncturist, and together they raise their three teenaged children and two dogs in Columbia, Maryland.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Kate McMurry TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 22, 2001
Format: Paperback
Brad Sachs, Ph.D., is a family psychologist, founder and director of the Father Center and author of numerous articles and books. His website is .... His book is well-written and accessible with a very thorough index and table of contents. However, he does not provide a list of resources or recommended books, which can often be a useful addition to a book like this.
I think the premiere concept in this book--it is completely brilliant and for itself alone is worth the price of admission--is the section on forgiving. In it, the author states, "In a balanced partnership between two people, there will be an ebb and flow between giving and getting that evens out over time and creates a sense of relationship balance." He labels this the "process of constructive entitlement," a normal and healthy expectation in relationships that when you give you get something back. Unfortunately, our search for relationship balance can become destructive when we unconsciously insist our children "redress imbalances that =did not= originate with them and may not even have anything to do with them." The author lists multiple categories of unspoken, unconscious expectations parents frequently have which can prevent us from seeing out child as "good enough." These include the following:
(1) Having a child as a kind of "offering" to our own parents, "as if the child were a gift or repayment on a loan." Love and respect for the grandparents is forced on our child, rather than allowing it to happen naturally. Because this rarely works, it can cause pain to all involved. (2) Having a child to replace someone very close to us who died, including another child of our own or a close family member.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Peter North on July 5, 2001
Format: Paperback
Dr. Sachs's THE GOOD ENOUGH CHILD: HOW TO HAVE AN IMPERFECT FAMILY AND BE PERFECTLY SATISFIED, was a wonderful book to read. This is not because it excused me from the responsibilities of parenthood, but because it helped me to think carefully about how much responsibility is my own, and how much is my child's.
I found the exercises at the end of each chapter particularly helpful when it came to putting into practice what Dr. Sachs recommended--by the end of the book, I was not only able to see my children in a more positive light, I was able to see myself and my husband in a more positive light, as well.
THE GOOD ENOUGH CHILD doesn't profess to provide a simplistic answer to every childrearing question. What it does do is help parents to trust themselves and their own instincts, to make a distinction between "what they want for their child and what they want from their from child", and to release themselves from the burden of unrealistic expectations for family life.
For these reasons, I found THE GOOD ENOUGH CHILD to be both a fascinating and liberating look at the challenge of contemporary parenting.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Chris Tempe on November 19, 2003
Format: Paperback
The reviews state that if you read "one book about parenting, make it this one." High praise, but worth it. Without oversimplifying, or being overly reassuring, the author helps parents understand the conscious and subconscious narratives that they bring to parenthood, and enables them to see their children, and their interactions with their children, in a new light.
The five-stage framework (Uncovering, Acknowledging, Understanding, Forgiving, Changing) is an accessible and thoughtful one, as are the chapters on marriage and divorce, and the ways in which our perceptions of our children are also filtered through our partner's lens.
Highly readable, thought-provoking, realistic, and good-natured, THE GOOD ENOUGH CHILD was a wonderful book on a daunting topic.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Hanna Shaked on March 7, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book gives good practical help and advice in addition to general examples and exercises. Very enlightening.
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