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118 of 131 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If you are a parent, read with caution, November 12, 2013
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This review is from: How to Traumatize Your Children: 7 Proven Methods to Help You Screw Up Your Kids Deliberately and with Skill (Paperback)
A pastor was preaching to his flock about sin and the Devil's way. "Illegal drugs will steal your mind and your soul!" he proclaimed. A woman in the back yelled, "Preach it, brother!" "Drink will lead you to perdition!" the pastor thundered. "That's right, pastor!" came the response from the back. "You must not covet your neighbor's wife or go fooling around outside marriage!" he continued. "Keep going, brother," she replied. "Gambling is the Devil's pastime!" he roared. "Now wait a minute, brother," shouted the woman, jumping to her feet, "you just stopped preaching and started meddling!"

This book is spot-on hilarious when it is preaching. Yeah, we all know people who do *that*, don't we? Glad *I'm* not one of them. I'm not that kind of a parent, we smugly think.

But then, this book has an annoying tendency to fall into meddling. And then it gets a little uncomfortable and we might shift a bit in our seats. "Well, yeah, but...," we mumbled awkwardly.

This book is pretty clearly intended to be a humorous, tongue-in-cheek poke at the perils of modern parenting. Since it's virtually impossible to be the "perfect" parent and avoid "traumatizing" your child, you may as well do so consciously and with skill. The book offers some general guidelines common to all traumatizing parenting methods and then proceeds to list "7 proven methods" to traumatize your child in specific ways to be selected or mixed and matched to go with your personal style. You can chose to be a Controller, a Pusher, a Narcissist, an Indulger, a Best Friend, a Self-Esteem Killer or a Neglector. For better results, you can combine two or more approaches. And for best results, have your parenting partner pick one or more approaches which are completely conflicting with your own. You will know you have succeeded when your child enters therapy and/or writes a tell-all book about you.

The problem is that it's rather easy to start taking this book a bit too seriously, especially if you are a parent. Perhaps you honestly believe that children need strict control and tight rules in order to feel loved and safe. Or perhaps your child's education and other achievements are very important to you. Or perhaps you believe that children should have a voice in the household and have reasonable control over their lives to the extent possible. It can be rather wounding and infuriating to see yourself reflected as a "Controller", a "Pusher" or an "Indulger" when you are following what you believe to be the best path.

On the other hand, I suspect all of us parent by the seat of our pants to a greater or lesser extent and we make mistakes. We're human. Sometimes we focus on our own needs or even wants and we neglect our kids a bit. Sometimes we get frazzled and we lash out with ill-considered criticism and self-esteem killing harsh remarks. It's tough to think that we may be "traumatizing our kids when we're just doing the best we can to get by.

Non-parents will love this book. Before I had kids, I to knew everything about parenting and I was quick to judge all those rotten parents out there - the "abusers" and the "spoilers". Now that I am a rotten parent, this book hits a little too close to home.

In any case, if you are a parent and are looking for a take-away message, I think it's to strive for a healthy balance. Kids don't need their every whim indulged, up to and including a $97,000 mini Ferrari. On the other hand, it's tough to be little and subject to the constant dictates of adults. Allowing your child to control areas of his life that he's capable of is probably a good thing. Likewise, a reasonable amount of (and the right kind of) self-esteem is certainly healthy for kids to feel competent and loved, but self-esteem is not some fragile thing that needs to be built up at every turn (especially not falsely, as that actually undermines self-esteem). Use common sense, do the best you can, and just laugh at yourself (and others) to the extent you see yourself in this book.
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