Author Robert A. Saul starts off his informative guide to parenting, "Conscious Parenting: Using the Parental Awareness Threshold" (Koehler Books), with a perfect quote from the Broadway musical "Dear Evan Hansen":
“So where’s the map?
I need a clue
‘Cause I’m flying blind
And making this up as I go.”
No doubt many parents can relate, whether they are new at it or still trying to figure it out. Much like I felt shortly after the birth of my daughter 30 years ago: Who prepared me for this? Was I already supposed to know something? Did I miss the memo on how to be a parent?
Of course I didn’t. Who would have written it? Saul, I guess. Because now he has.
SOLUTIONS ALONG A SUBJECTIVE JOURNEY
While sometimes more tangible instructions are necessary, Saul says he wrote the book to provide “proposed solutions that can be used to maneuver the ups and downs, the hills and moguls, and the emotional roller coaster that can characterize parenting.” The idea is to gain a full understanding of the parent-child relationship and interactions, then come up with responses and solutions that maximize positive outcomes.
The author has it covered at all age levels, whether dealing with an irritable infant, a kindergartener crying about not wanting to go to school, a teen’s drug abuse or even later-life issues. This work is not so much a reference book where readers can look up “bad report card” in an index and find the answer, but rather a book of theory and concept that can be applied to most parenting situations to logically think things through.
Saul introduces the Parental Awareness Threshold (PAT) as a tool to guide parents to analyze their emotional state in a given situation and take actions to “pause, assess and choose” the loving path forward.
Those three steps are essential to Saul’s teachings and explained in the context of numerous examples. A child is warned in the backseat to be careful but still spills his drink all over the car. Rather than defaulting into autopilot anger, the parent is advised to pause, take a deep breath and make a logical decision on how best to address the moment.
PATIENCE, PERSISTENCE AND OPTIMISM
He emphasizes attention to detail, especially when it comes to something as simple as listening. “Turn towards them, establish eye contact and actively listen. Sit up straight and do not fidget or look elsewhere. Be fully present.”
Saul also believes that community involvement is a key benchmark often overlooked by parents and children who tend to trend toward self-needs and goals. This is an area and opportunity for parents to get involved and lead by example, ultimately producing good citizens.
Many qualities are critical to effective parenting, according to Saul, but perhaps none so much as patience, persistence, optimism, sustained involvement and rational discourse.
“Parenting is a learning experience. A parent’s job is unconditional. Parents should always love their children, but they do not have to love their child’s bad behavior. Parents have to continually make tough decisions. Sometimes we are right, and sometimes we are wrong.”
"Conscious Parenting" is a clear, understandable, easy-to-read guidebook chock full of information, strategies, approaches and good ideas to help parents of any age and at any stage. A quick read and valuable handbook, it is sure to tip the scales in favor of making more than your fair share of right decisions.
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