I figure the best thing I can do for my children is be a safe place for them in a complicated, scary, and amazing world. I am far from perfect, so I pray that the damage I do through trying to be a good parent will be solvable in a few therapy sessions when they get older.
Before they were born I worried, and cried, over if I would screw them up. Could I be a decent parent at all when I am so imperfect? Would they inherit my bad habits or the less-enviable characteristics of my heritage? Would I know what to do with them?
So, the title of Mark Brady’s book seemed perfect for me as I have, will, and am screwing up my kids, without really meaning to.
How Parents Screw Us Up without really meaning to: A particle guide for healing disorganized hearts and brains by Mark Brady, Ph.D.
I found the book through Mark’s blog, Committed Parent. His style is conversational, comfortable, and academic – a weird combination that actually works. As a neuroscience guru with a big heart for improving the lives of others, his writing is a playground for inquiring minds. (Please note that I am not commenting on Mark Brady’s faith, beliefs or religion within this post.)
In essence, the book is a large collection of various posts. But for those of us who still like the having a book you can mark up, I highly suggest this one.
Mark goes step-by-step through all the things we are scared of. It unmasks our fears of “abandoning” our children, on asking too much – or too little – of them, and simply, how our brains work.
It’s not a how-to-parent book that provides easy steps to perfect parenting, but rather insights into how diverse and amazing all individuals are.
A few highlights of many points that can change our lives and the lives of our children:
- The Big Brain Question: Are you there for me? And the only answer we need is, “YES!”, but unfortunately many of us internalize “maybe”, “sort-of”, and “no”.
- Strong, healthy brains are created from contingent communication: which means that when we interact with our children (and others!), we need to pay attention, appropriately and accurately understand what is being communicated, and respond in a timely and effective manner. (Which means, actually pay attention, listen and do something about it.)
- Tantrums and outbursts (at any age) are not from personal lack of control, but from insufficient neural integration. Simply put, when our brains can’t effectively process what is going on around us or to us, our brain overloads which results in “acting out”. Can we punish an insufficiently integrated brain? Or can we nurture it. (Punishment is much easier, but nurturing and teaching is more effective, trust me!)
Mark’s blog and book support my personal conviction that we, as human beings, have been created in an amazing way. While we are fragile and temporary, we are not stuck with our situations. God has provided us with the means to change our actions, thoughts and perceptions from the inside out. And through Christ and the Holy Spirit, God has answered the “Big Brain Question” with a solid and resounding YES!