One book a month: March
This month, I’ve read The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read (and Your Children Will be Glad That You Did) by Philippa Perry.
‘They fuck you up, your mum and dad, they may not mean to, but they do. They fill you with the faults they had, and add some extra, just for you. But they were fucked up in their turn…’ wrote Phillip Larkin in This Be The Verse, all the way back in 1971.
How does your own childhood impact on your relationship with your children? As parents, are we doing to them the less-than positive things that were done unto us, in the endless cycle of the coastal shelf of Larkin’s poem?
This is one of the big questions behind The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read (and your children will be glad that you did) by Philippa Perry, a book *this* parent read for her Book A Month project for March (apologies for the delay! I had some blog issues last week so this is late, but I really did read it in March. Honestly).
(Just a quick recap – I’m trying to read more books than the three I read last year and thought I would attempt to read a book a month. January was A Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell and February was Jog On: How Running Saved my Life by Bella Mackie).
What book did I read in March? The book I read in March was The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read (and Your Children Will be Glad That You Did) by Philippa Perry. I bought an actual copy copy this month; it’s a bold and pleasing blue and orange.
What’s the book about? It’s a parenting book, but one that doesn’t focus on the mechanics of parenting. There are no weaning tips or advice on having it ‘all’ along with shiny hair and an unflappable smile. Instead, the book tackles relationships and the emotional side of parenting, and how as parents we can examine our own childhoods, emotions, relationships and take steps to understand why our children act how they do, work out how everyone works to have a positive relationship now as well as future-proofing things for our grandchildren. All the feelings!
Why did I pick it? I picked it after reading Robyn Wilder’s wonderful interview with Phillipa Perry in the Observer. Weirdly, I think about that avocado a lot.
How easy is it to read around children? I found it pretty absorbing, so easier to read with no distractions in the evening. My 7-y-o was also intrigued by the title and had many questions.
What did I think? Where do you stand on parenting manuals? Despite loving all books about pregnancy – which I devoured at every opportunity – I’ve found parenting books to be, for for the most part, a bit rubbish. The problem is there is no one-size-fits-all approach or solution when it comes to most parts of parenting, so it’s hard to write a book that’s genuinely useful, and most of them seem to be very routine driven, which doesn’t work for most babies. Or parents. And the personality-driven ones are light on evidence which is helpful for no-one.
However, The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read is a brilliant, incredibly useful book. It offers light-bulb moments about everyone’s behaviour and why we all do the things we do and act the way we act. There are also practical tips we as parents can take to strengthen the relationship we have with our children, and prepare them well for the relationship they will have if they have children. As Philippa Perry’s a psychotherapist, it’s all evidence based; the examples are useful, as are the exercises.
The only other parenting books I’ve really got on with are Sarah Ockwell-Smith’s, and it reminded me of a similar, gentle approach – as this book is a judgement-free zone, and more than anything it’s kind and positive to parents. Which is something all of us who are sleep-deprived, exhausted, at the very end of our teather and dealing with a zillion things at once to cries of ‘Can I have a snack?’ need, quite frankly.
And even if you don’t have children, there’s an awful also a lot that applies to relationships and human behaviour in general, not just the parent-child relationship – but that of you and your partner, and others. And possibly a lot that can apply to wider society and a lot of our current issues.
Has it changed my perspective on parenting? I’ve always tried to parent in a way that addresses emotions, but sometimes it’s hard, isn’t it? Especially when you just want to leave the house. This book was confirmation of a lot of what I’ve always thought, and a reminder to act on it, as well as giving me a lot of food for thought, especially around just pausing and thinking when you’re with your children.
What else have you read in March? I started reading Names for the Sea; Strangers in Iceland…has anyone read that one?