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When Parents Hurt: Compassionate Strategies When You and Your Grown Child Don't Get Along Hardcover – July 3, 2007

4.3 out of 5 stars 195 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Parenting and relationship expert Coleman points out that one can be a devoted parent and still have things run amok. Parents who have made mistakes and those who haven't can both be involved in a hurtful relationship with an older child; Coleman's focus is on helping the parent cope and carry on. In individual chapters, he explores the many reasons why a relationship can falter, examining how divorce, mismatches in child/parent personalities and the demands of a competitive society can adversely affect the child/parent relationship. Using case studies from his psychology practice as well as his own experiences as a divorced father who once faced a difficult time with his eldest daughter, Coleman provides strategies for managing the guilt and regret that can arise in parents as children grow into teens and young adults. He advises parents to take responsibility for their past actions, to make amends, to forgive both themselves and their children, and to move guilt and shame to the background and gratitude to the foreground. By following these "essential principles," Coleman claims, emotionally wounded parents will begin to overcome the pain of relationships gone awry and move on to a more hopeful future. Coleman's personable writing style makes this an engaging read despite the serious subject matter. (June)
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“A wise and helpful book.” (Frederic Luskin, Ph.D., Director, Stanford Forgiveness Projects and author of Forgive for Good)

“Joshua Coleman’s book is a gift, offering extraordinary wisdom coupled with practical advice.” (Steven Mintz, Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences and author of Huck's Raft: A History of American Childhood)

“An especially healing, practical resource. . .for anyone exhausted by strained, hurtful relationships with their adolescent or grown child.” (--Dr. Linda Nielsen, Professor of Adolescent Psychology & Women's Studies, Wake Forest University and author of Embracing Your Father: Building the Relationship You Always Wanted With Your Dad)

“I LOVE this book. [It] is written from such a realistic and compassionate perspective that it is heart-warming.” (Hara Estroff Marano, Editor at Large, Psychology Today; author of A Nation of Wimps)

“Exceptionally perceptive.” (--Stephanie Coontz, Author of Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage and The Way We Never Were)

“A superb treatment...a unique and groundbreaking approach...an eyeopening read for anyone.” (Library Journal (starred review))

“Coleman’s focus is on helping the parent cope and carry on...an engaging read despite the serious subject matter.” (Publishers Weekly)

“An important book that can help parents heal.” (Baltimore Sun)

“. . .desperately needed. . . a truly great book for parents, and a great book for therapists who work with families.” (--Heather Folsom, M.D., author and adult and child psychiatrist)

“This is an incredibly insightful and sensitively written analysis of a difficult subject. . . .I have recommended it to many of my clients. . . I highly recommend it to all parents who hurt.” (--Jan Levine, Ph.D., co-author of Why Do Fools Fall in Love?)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; 1 edition (July 3, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061148423
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061148422
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (195 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #577,570 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
In all of the troubled years of struggle with my children's problems surrounded,or so it seemed, by successful parents and their perfect children, opinionated teachers, and therapists with their conflicting suggestions it never occurred to me that my seeming inability to solve these problems was anything but my own and their father's "fault" and due entirely to our inadequacies. What these inadequacies were I did not know and still do not to this day, to a large extent, despite all the professional advice I sought and self help books I read. I felt completely alone and ashamed and a failure and unable to understand how it had all come about. Now (at last) along has come Dr. Coleman's book and the relief I felt as I read it was immediate and enormous. In it he points out so articulately and so well many of the reasons behind my dilemna and showed me I am definitely not alone and that many parents suffer needless guilt and pain and shame around their parenting (long after the active part is over) and that there are many reasons for this as well as many causes for a child's problems. Importantly,he also has many helpful suggestions for healing the pain of a parent who feels a failure because of how his child has "turned out" or because of a grown child's rejection....a frequent if sad situation these days. If you are a parent and disappointed about how it has all turned out buy this book. You will not regret it.
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Format: Hardcover
I've been trying to finish this book and to write this review for some time. This is an important topic, one that doesn't occur to us when we are parents of kids who are growing up. As we read them stories as they go to sleep, drive them to band practice, teach them how to make cookies, share in the joy of their success at a skill or cry with them over a disappointment we don't think of the possibility that some day they will say, "I don't want to have anything more to do with you," and then you will never hear from them again. This does not cross our minds back then. Why would it? It seems IMPOSSIBLE!

I have a large selection of books on the subject of family estrangement. Some are written by parents. Some by mental health professionals who have also experienced estrangement. Some by people who just think they know what they are talking about and that they are qualified, for some reason, to give advice.

I think that Joshua Coleman's book, When Parents Hurt, is the most compassionate, the most understanding, and the wisest book on the topic of conflict and estrangement between parents and grown children. He covers many contributing factors to estrangement including differences in personality, overinvolvement by parents, perfectionism, mental illness, divorce, family history.

He covers more ground than any other book on this topic that I have read. He does so in a kind and compassionate way, attempting not to point fingers. He offers suggestions to parents for ways to communicate that might lead to resolution. Although the suggestions that he offers would be most helpful to those who are still able to communicate with each other.
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Format: Hardcover
I have 3 grown children. RAISING THE FIRST TWO WAS A WALK IN THE PARK. I believed the proof was in the pudding: Good parenting produces good kids. I HAD MY THIRD--MY ACCUMULATED PARENTING SKILLS WERE RENDERED USELESS. Prior to reading Dr. Coleman's book, When Parents Hurt, my self-esteem as a parent was dropping by 'the incident.' I felt like a failure. My attempts to support my daughter were often met with rejection. She pushed me away at times when when she desperately wanted and needed me. Being a voracious reader, it seemed like I spent years camped out in the 'Psychology' section of the local book store searching for info regarding my dilemma: How can we love and care for difficult children, while maintaining our sanity in the process? Dr. Coleman's book offers insight, experience, and compassionate guidance. His eloquent excerpts from work with patients, speaks to the level of pain we experience and the validation we crave in raising a difficult child. Dr. Coleman sheds light on the complicated web we find ourselves weaving with our repeated attempts to connect with a grown child who reacts from a place of vulnerability and insecurity. I feel I've gained a refreshing new perspective along with formidable tools to implement change. For the first time in 27 years, I'm optimistic the relationship will finally move in a healthy, more satisfying direction.
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Format: Hardcover
About a year ago, I read "The Price of Privilege" on how parents sometimes with the best of intentions make mistakes in raising their privileged kids. One thing lead me to another, and here is another resource that I have found extremely helpful.

In "When Parents Hurt: Compassionate Strategies When You and Your Grown Child Don't Get Along" (312 pages), author (and well-known psychologist) Joshua Coleman addresses many different scenarios with the general theme of older and grown kids not getting along with their parents, whether married or divorced, and how to deal with that. As the author notes: "While there are thousands of books telling you how to better raise your children there are none written on a topic that is just as important: healing the wounds of the parent. If this is your goal, this book is written for you." That sold me on the book, right then and there. The author does a superb job in setting the table, dissecting the different types of parents (authoritarian; permissive; authoritative). One of the things that resonated well with me as I was reading the book is that the author sprinkles the book with real-life examples from his practice, providing insight on what he reasonably could have said but how that would have been counter-productive in that particular situation.

Very interesting are the author's observations regarding the lengthening of adolescence in today's society ("65% of men reached adulthood by the age of 30, while only 31% od men had by 2000"), and the profound effects on parents-cids relationships, such as extending the need to "rebel" into mid-to-late twenties. "Why? Because your adult child is still working on separating from you. It's love, not hate, that causes her to mistreat you. Now, don't you feel better?" observes the author dryly.
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