The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read, Philippa Perry
The subtitle of this parenting book is ‘and your children will be glad that you did’. She won’t know it, but Percy will be glad that I read it because in a few weeks it has changed the way I empathise and communicate with her. This means that her behaviour might be the same, but how I deal with it and react to it has flipped on its head.
One of the parts I really struggle with as a parent is the amount of whining and crying. Of course, you think, that’s what kids do. Maybe, but I had no idea how much they whined, how often they whined, how annoying the whining sound can be, and how frequently you cannot locate the cause of the whining. It hurts my ears, my brain and my soul. I wonder how to make it stop, if it’s my fault, and why Percy has to carry on. She’s told me she has to cry if she feels like it, and OBVIOUSLY I agree with this and try and comfort her. This is really hard when she’s still screaming.
I read Philippa Perry’s book slowly, to try and take it in and action some of her advice. She’s a psychologist and, famously, the wife of artist Grayson Perry. She has lots of common sense. She also has inordinate amounts of patience. Her advice to validate your child’s feelings is wonderful. Instead of saying to Percy, ‘You’re not tired, we’ve only just left the house,’ I can now say, ‘I know you’re tired and you’re not as tall as me and walking can be really tiring for your teeny weeny legs but we do need to walk for just a few more minutes to get to the cafe where I’m going to buy you something delicious’. Parenting solved.
I joke, but this approach has been really helpful. Reading the book has reminded me not to get annoyed at so many behaviours and actions she cannot control. It also asks you to look back at how you felt at the age of your child, when a certain type of situation arose, and knowing I was always told to shut up makes it much easier to understand what I’m asking of Percy and how I don’t actually want that for her.
Everyone should read this book. I hope Ben will. And I feel it’s one of those books you should read regularly, to re-embed its wisdom in your tired soul. Mostly it’s about being kind, empathetic and honest, so it’s helpful for any relationship in your life.