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When Parenting is a Foreign Language

If your emotional and mindless eating is often caused by the stress of parenting, you’ll want to read "When Parenting Is A Foreign Language: A Child Therapist’s Guide to Speaking Your Child’s Language" by Diane Ross-Glazer, PhD. This gem of a book provides a quick study that gets right to the heart of effective parenting and is written in a casual, humorous style to engage and enlighten any frustrated mother or father who is ready to learn some simple guidelines for improving their relationship with their children.
Whereas most child-rearing books focus on what to do to prevent and respond to misbehavior, "When Parenting Is A Foreign Language" addresses the missing connection between many mothers and fathers and their children, one that is felt from and made with the heart. The book gets you to put aside your thinking and zero in on what you and your child are feeling in order to help them grow and change.
Ross-Glazer lays out four steps for identifying what you and your child are experiencing in any given situation and provides oodles of examples to help you understand how this process works. For instance, if your child is angry and won’t talk to you because you said she couldn’t have a puppy, rather than immediately going into a defensive, detailed explanation of why she can’t, you could follow these heart-to-heart guidelines:
1) identify what you imagine she’s feeling, in this case disappointed, hurt, or upset;
2) let her know that you understand why she’s feeling what she is: “because…we said no to you getting a dog/many of your friends have dogs/you believe we don’t understand how much you want one;
3) comfort by apologizing that you can’t grant her wish right now or empathize by saying how much you wanted a puppy at her age;
4) problem-solve by adding that maybe someday you could get her a puppy when you no longer live in an apartment or when she’s old enough to help take care of one.
Ross-Glazer explains what happens when children don’t feel understood and validated in the short- and long-term, which is usually shutting down or acting out, and describes how these habits produce adults who function poorly emotionally. She even has exercises for parents who need to sharpen their skills regarding what they’re feeling, and urges them to work on expressing more thoughts than feelings with their kids.
Let me assure you that this book is far from all touchy feely and that there are plenty of guidelines for setting rules and boundaries and enforcing consequences, with the gentle reminder that your ultimate goal is to develop self-discipline in your child.