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Book Review: ParentWise: The Emotional Challenges of Family Life and How to Deal With Them by Loren Buckner

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No one can really communicate how tough parenting is to someone who is not a parent. One of the biggest challenges I had once I became a parent was dealing with the constant feeling that I had no idea what I was doing, that I just wasn’t qualified for this job, which was a lot more difficult than I ever imagined. For those of us who have children later in life, this comes like a slap in the face. Just when we think we have this life thing all figured out, our children come along to show us how wrong we are. Yet we still have to act like we know what we’re doing, even though we’re making it up as we go along — for their sake, and because they’re always watching.

Becoming a parent also brings out unexpected emotions. It certainly isn’t all joy and love, but when we feel anger or resentment or disappointment toward our children, we tend to bury those feelings, because we believe that isn’t what parents are supposed to feel. As Loren Buckner points out in ParentWise: The Emotional Challenges of Family Life and How to Deal With Them, that is exactly what parents feel. Having a child can dredge up the most painful of emotions, unresolved from our own childhoods. Recognizing these feelings for what they are and learning how to deal with them are crucial steps to becoming better parents.

ParentWise provides the tools to do just that. Each chapter delves into an emotional aspect of parenting, from realizing that life will never be the same to the feelings of guilt, worry, loss, disappointment, and anger that our children can spark in us. The final chapter is devoted to a particularly stressful time — adolescence — so this book can be a companion from the birth of your children through to when they leave home. Each chapter includes several helpful intentions that guide you through the daily challenges of parenting and help you remain focused on the long-term goal, which is to raise healthy, independent children.

ParentWise provides much-needed therapy for any parent. This book helps us understand that it’s okay to feel even negative emotions as we are dealing with the everyday challenge of raising children. Then Buckner teaches us how to deal with those feelings in ways that are healthy both for us and our children. I think any parent will benefit from having Buckner’s book as a guide.

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