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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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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
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
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.