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VINE VOICEon February 17, 2004
This is not a bad book, it's just that it can't see its own self-righteousness. The author rightly believes that adult children have every right to choose lifestyles that their parents might find weird -- living in a commune, not having children, coming out as gay, or following a guru, for example. But in advocating for that right, she promotes a heavy-handed moral certitude that pretty much advises the parents to just get over it.
If a parent or relative has already determined to accept the alternative lifestyle and wants support in dealing with it, this would be a good book. It's not great on confronting the reasons behind the parental disapproval, such as upbringing or religion, and gives no help whatsoever to a parent who goes against her church or community in accepting a particular lifestyle. Caplan just suggests that love for the adult child must overcome the differences and that the parent needs to work on himself, though there are some helpful guidelines for "agreeing to disagree" on some subjects and then letting the topic drop.
Caplan doesn't like the word "cult" and suggests using "alternative lifestyle" instead. She conveniently discusses what she seems to consider the "healthy" lifestyle differences such as vegetarianism, but notably absent are "lifestyle choices" such as drugs, crime, and sexual misconduct. (Not all parental disapproval is due to outmoded cultural conditioning.) The book is also silent on drawing limits with adult children who take advantage of their parents emotionally or financially, assuming that the fault is all on the part of rigid, controlling parents.
The book is presented under the authority of an M.A. without giving any biographical information on the author's credentials. It will appeal primarily to adult children who want to give it as a gift to help their parents change. But their parents are going to want to turn around and give back some books written by their own "authorities," so I advise against giving this book to your parents without acknowledging the author's assumptions first (i.e., "I'm right and my parents are wrong").
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on February 10, 1997
Great! Absolutely Awesom
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