How your parents treated you, and how you internalized that, affects how you treat your kids. Hmm, not really a surprising statement there, is it? A lot of psychological mumbo-jumbo thrown about, complete with cross-sections of the brain. At one point in my life (fresh out of college) I would probably have found it fascinating and read each word, but now I just felt thickheaded so I skimmed and tried to pick out the key concepts. I feel like I didn't really need all that theory, I just needed to know what are some things I shouldn't do so I don't fuck up being a parent.
The few examples, like about collaborative talk, were brilliant. Don't invalidate their feelings, but try to talk it out. I also heard on a Radiolab episode that our internal voice when we're thinking is actually based on how our parents talked us through something. So I was pretty interested in this. Like if a child falls down and isn't injured but starts crying, don't say "You weren't hurt. You're a big boy. You shouldn't cry." but instead "Looks like you got surprised when you fell down. Are you hurt?" I wish there had been more anecdotes, so I could get the hang of how to react and talk to children. I think
I get the idea, but I could really have used more examples, especially about discipline and setting limits. A summary of the concepts at the end of each chapter would have been helpful (like a For Dummies) book. Because, you know, I'm a dummy. And I doubt a sleep-deprived new parent can clear the mind fog enough to appreciate psychobabble.
My oversimplified summary: Empathize with your child, and describe back a situation to him in they way you think he/she sees it. And don't lie (saying you're fine when actually you're not), because they can pick up on nonverbal signals.
I wish there were workshops based on this where people present a scenario, have parents act, then guide them on what might be a better way to act and what to say.