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Parenting the Hurt Child: Helping Adoptive Families Heal And Grow

Gregory Keck & Regina M. KupeckyPiñon Press; $22.00

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Greg Keck and Regina Kupecky’s new book, Parenting the Hurt Child, welcomes parents to a world of easy-to-grasp ideals and practical ideas. In honest, everyday language, they describe families-in-process—parents helping kids grow beyond difficult beginnings.

The authors’ model is parent-centered and child-focused. Using the analogy of ducks in a pond, they suggest that parents lead by example while making their children responsible for keeping up. Honestly presenting the challenges involved in parenting children who cling to control as a means of survival, the authors ask parents to define their goals. If the goal is to increase attachment, why respond to misbehavior in ways that reinforce separation? They challenge such common practices as time-outs and grounding. Strategies for using touch, smell, intense focus, movement, fast-moving verbal exchanges, and eye contact to “unfreeze development”—and for avoiding control battles—are convincing. Consistency? Better to surprise the child. Flexibility? If you can’t get your child to do what you want, adjust your expectations. Be proactive instead of reactive.

There is a great chapter on developing communication with schools and naming your values in family talk sessions. The authors offer examples of clear statements, such as, “In our family, we do our homework right after school, so we don’t have to worry about it later,” or “In our family we are not always perfect, but we always try to do better.” Excellent strategies for managing special education and choosing the right therapist are also offered.

Though aimed particularly at parents of children who have suffered abuse and neglect, Parenting the Hurt Child is crammed with powerful advice for parents of any adopted child. We highly recommend this book.

–by Gail Steinberg and Beth Hall, founding Co-Directors of Pact, An Adoption Alliance, and authors of Inside Transracial Adoption

Copyright 2002 Adoptive Families magazine. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.

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