Most parents are not evil – they’re lovely people with the wrong tools

Hadley Freeman in The Guardian:

When Philippa Perry finished, after several years of writing and a lifetime of research, the first draft of her book about improving relationships between parents and children, she sent it to her editor – and their relationship promptly collapsed. 

“She felt really told off by the book. She has teenagers and, of course, sometimes she would tell them: ‘Get out of bed, you lazy sods!’ So what I wrote went straight into her heart,” says Perry, who very much does not advocate calling one’s children “lazy sods”. This must have been painful for you to hear, I say. “Actually, it was amazing feedback,” she replies with the good cheer of a psychotherapist who firmly believes painful moments can beget productive solutions. “I realised that my own anger towards my parents had leaked out into the book. So I rewrote it and it’s a better book.” And how do matters stand with her editor? “Relationships are often about rupture and repair, and we have very much repaired.”

The result of all this rupturing and repairing was the ingeniously titled The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read (and Your Children Will Be Glad That You Did), which became one of this year’s publishing success stories, its distinctive orange and blue cover as omnipresent in a certain type of family home as Ella’s Kitchen organic baby food and Cosmic Kids Yoga.

Out in paperback next week, it is Perry’s third book – after Couch Therapy (2010) and How to Stay Sane (2012) – and her most successful. To date, it has sold more than 240,000 copies and it’s not hard to see why: she writes with a thoughtful, inquisitive elegance rarely found in parenting guides, which tend more to dry didacticism. Despite her revisions, the book is still firm with parents but also forgiving (ruptures can be repaired), full of the currently popular attachment-parenting theories (children’s needs come first) while chucking in some common sense (sometimes parents need a break). Most of all, it is incisive and persuasive – God, it’s persuasive. I’ve yet to meet a parent who hasn’t altered their parenting to some degree after reading it, myself extremely included.

More here.