The Book You Wished Your Parents Had Read

We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.

Franklin D. Roosevelt32nd president of US (1882 – 1945)  

My daughter was born ~7 months ago, and so I have just finished the eponymous book by Philippa Perry. It’s a far cry from my usual fair, but I was unlikely to find parenting advice or templates in computer science reference books.

The book covers a number of interrelated parenting topics:

  • Your own relationship with your parents and how this colours your ideals of upbringing
  • How you react to frustration and conflict in your peer relationships
  • Pregnancy and preparation
  • Communication without words, and understanding the child’s context
  • Behaviour

And from this book, I’ve distilled a number of lessons which I’ve taken to heart and will try to do with my own children:

  1. Rationality and logic just does not work on young children, they live and breath through their feelings and they need the space to explore them. Acknowledging their feelings and helping them put what they are feeling into words they understand is a way of helping them understand themselves.
  2. As a parent, you have your own feelings and will act on them. Be honest with your child if you make a mistake, and they will act on that example and apologise back in turn.
  3. There is no such thing as bad behaviour, only inconvenient behaviour. If a toddler starts yelling or breaking things: they are either trying to get attention (bad attention is better than none at all) or they are exploring their boundaries. Acknowledging and talking through their feelings will remove inconvenient behaviour more effectively than punitive measures.
  4. Punitive measures only teach that an action is bad because of the punishment, rather than why it is bad. The child may take a while to understand the “why” but it will lead to a much more mentally healthy child.
  5. Any rift can be repaired by communication, but it is on the parent to work on it.

I really enjoyed this book, mostly as an introspective journey through my own childhood, and it has left me excited for the next few decades raising little people.

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