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
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.