The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read Summary

1-Sentence-Summary: The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read will help you step back and focus more on the big picture of parenting to foster a strong relationship with your child so they can grow up emotionally and mentally healthy.

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If you’re a parent, you know there is no shortage of parenting advice to go around. From “Picking up your child too much will spoil them,” to “Kids need strict rules,” they’re everywhere.

But the mass collection of parenting books out there is proof that as parents, we yearn for professional guidance on how to bring up our kids. This is because we really want our kids to be happy, and want to make sure we’re not screwing them up.

Many parenting books give complicated rules to follow, and it’s hard to keep it all straight, leading many parents to feel discouraged. But what if there was a parenting book that could help you ensure your kids were happy and healthy that just gave the essentials? The Book You Wished Your Parents Had: (And Your Children Will Be Glad That You Did) by Philippa Perry is just that book.

Here are the 3 great takeaways from this book:

  1. The way we react to parenting situations is tied to our childhood.
  2. Validate all your child’s feelings, even ones you feel are irrational. 
  3. There are things we can do as parents to encourage sound mental health.

Are you ready to throw away your complicated parenting books and get back to the basics? Let’s learn!

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Lesson 1: Our responses to parenting situations are closely linked to how we were parented.

Sometimes when our kids do stuff we just don’t understand why. But to understand them Perry says we need to step back and realize we need to look at the biggest influences in their lives: ourselves. We have the biggest influence on them and they watch us closely, so if we want to really understand our kids, we need to first understand ourselves.

What we learned as kids can have a huge impact on our reactions and parenting style as adults. 

When we make negative associations as kids, this can carry on into our adult life. An example of this is of a dad who began to feel angry every time his 18 month-old didn’t eat or dropped food on the ground. When the author helped him look into his past, he realized the reason he felt this way was because his parents would punish him swiftly for this kind of behavior.

Those negative experiences he had as a kid carried into his parenting and clouded his judgment. 

So what do we do if we can’t change our past? We can do this by looking into our past and sorting through the good and bad experiences. When we think about the experiences, we should think about the way we felt about it then, and how we feel about it now. When we understand this, it will help us become more compassionate parents.

Whenever negatively charged emotions come back, it’s a sign we should explore our childhood to discover why we feel the way we do about it. If we use these times to reflect and realize why we react the way we do, it will help us to be more empathetic parents. 

Lesson 2: Validating all of your child’s feelings will be more productive and healthier for the child.

If you’ve read our summary on No-Drama Discipline, this one won’t be entirely new to you. But I chose it because it is so essential to a child’s development. Sometimes as parents we have to calm some pretty ridiculous-seeming tantrums over things like not getting ice cream for dessert. Ridiculous to us, yes, but to the child, those feelings are entirely real.

Have you ever talked to someone who tries to tell you how you should feel when you’re just trying to let out your frustrations? That’s a little bit how kids feel when we tell them they’re unjustified for crying over the ice cream. 

Instead of going with your instincts to get angry or ignore, seek first to acknowledge and understand. Perry isn’t trying to tell you that you should give your kid ice cream at the first sign of crying for it. But she wants you to validate your child’s feelings.

When we don’t allow them to feel these things, the feelings still exist, but they have to suppress them. This becomes a harmful future habit that is hard to break. It’s all about letting children know that you are aware of how they feel. 

An example of this is if a child is upset about not having ice cream, saying something like, “You’re sad because you really want ice cream, is that right?” You will be surprised by how much this helps them calm down` because what we all really want deep down is to feel understood by those around us.

Lesson 3: Our parenting can encourage sound mental health in our children.

The mental health of a child can set the stage for how their mental health will be as an adult. And good news, parents: you can have a hand in helping your child grow to be mentally healthy. 

Perry’s first tip is engaged observation. We do this by listening with the intent to understand rather than to reply, as we so often do as parents.

This fosters a healthy bond between parent and child. Next, we should avoid being glued to our phones, which is a huge problem in today’s world.

When children feel neglected they start to do what’s called “attention-seeking behaviors.” This can be throwing things, making messes, or whatever they know will get your attention. When we are more attentive to them, they will be emotionally healthier, and will engage in less of these behaviors. 

Lastly, make sure your child has time for play, and encourage it as much as possible. It encourages curiosity and helps them learn, so try to be enthusiastic about their activities.

The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read Review

The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read is a relevant and beautifully simple guide for parents today. Rather than being condescending or complicated, it sticks to the basics and contains actionable advice from start to finish. If you want sound advice on how to raise an emotionally and mentally healthy human, this is the book for you.

Who would I recommend The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read summary to?

The 28-year-old mom pregnant with her first child, the 37-year-old dad who wants advice on how to connect better with his children, or anyone who has kids, wants kids, or works with kids.

Last Updated on September 7, 2022

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Luke Rowley

With over 450 summaries that he contributed to Four Minute Books, first as a part-time writer, then as our full-time Managing Editor until late 2021, Luke is our second-most prolific writer. He's also a professional, licensed engineer, working in the solar industry. Next to his day job, he also runs Goal Engineering, a website dedicated to achieving your goals with a unique, 4-4-4 system. Luke is also a husband, father, 75 Hard finisher, and lover of the outdoors. He lives in Utah with his wife and 3 kids.