Amy Morin likes to count to thirteen. I’m not sure why, but she’s now counted to thirteen four times, once for each of her popular books. Morin’s books are based upon her experience as a psychotherapist and as a foster parent. Her parenting advice is gathered in 13 Things Mentally Strong Parents Don’t Do.
Like many parenting books, 13 Things blends parenting advice with anecdotes that pull at your heartstrings (Morin’s own trauma is highlighted early in the book when she shares about the death of her husband). What makes Morin’s book different from others is her focus on what not to do. Her vignettes share stories of parenting gone wrong as well as the steps taken to correct them. This balance makes her insights more believable and perhaps easier to replicate for the rest of us.
Interestingly, the book’s focus on what we should not be doing is intentional. Morin notes that “Building mental strength requires good habits too. But it also requires that you give up the unhealthy thoughts, behaviors, and feelings that hold you back.” In other words, it doesn’t matter if you have figured out to praise your kid properly if you turn around and call them a screw-up in the next sentence.
Morin lays out her thirteen things with a chapter dedicated to each of them:
- Condone a Victim Mentality
- Parent out of Guilt
- Make Their Children the Center of the UniverseAmy
- Allow Fear to Dictate Their Choices
- Give Their Children Power Over Them
- Expect Perfection
- Let Their Child Avoid Responsibility
- Shield Their Child from Pain
- Feel Responsible for Their Child’s Emotions
- Prevent Their Child from Making Mistakes
- Confuse Discipline with Punishment
- Take Shortcuts to Avoid Discomfort
- Lose Sight of Their Values
When I sat down to write this review, I had thought that I would pick my favorite from that last, but it was honestly difficult to do. Morin highlights so many of the important aspects of parenting that I discuss with the families that I work with. Each chapter is full of interesting parenting ideas that I kept highlighting as I read.
Each chapter ends with guidance on how to support not doing the bad parenting habit broken down by age range (preschool, school-age, and teens). The last page or so of each chapter is a list of what’s helpful and what’s not to help you troubleshoot putting all of this into action.
For example, in her chapter on “Let Their Child Avoid Responsibility,” Morin encourages parents to allow for natural consequences to occur and set expectations for responsibility. She follows up by discouraging nagging and bailing your child out when they are irresponsible. Her simple guidance would do well on a set of business cards that I could keep in my pocket to remind me of what I should and shouldn’t be doing as a parent.
13 Things Mentally Strong Parents Don’t Do provides ample opportunity to use innovative parenting. It encourages us to think about what is and isn’t working, Taking time to look at our own parenting and the behavior traps that we fall into can help us raise kids that are self-assured and able to grasp a life of happiness, meaning, and success just like Morin promises in her subtitle.
If you read and enjoyed Morin’s two other books for adults, 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do and 13 Things Mentally Strong Women Don’t Do, you will definitely enjoy and appreciate Morin’s approach. For those that are new to her style, you will find the book approachable and full of hands-on steps that you can take without bogging you down in complicated steps that you won’t be able to replicate in your own home.
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