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Book Reviews

Parenting with Wisdom and Compassion

Bring Out the Best in Your Family

by Ilene Val-Essen, Ph.D.

Quality Parenting, 2016

Paperback, 304 pages

Reviewed by Nathaniel Vose

Parents are often bombarded with copious amounts of information and advice on how to raise their children. The quagmire of theories, tips, books, blogs, family and peer pressures—well intentioned as they may be—can leave an overwhelmed parent, like me, feeling perplexed, doubtful, and guilty.  

Parenting with Wisdom and Compassion takes a more empowering approach. Rather than drawing parents’ focus to the knowledge and research of an external authority, the author focuses us inward to unearth our innate parenting wisdom.

A sequel to Bring Out the Best in your Children and Yourself, this book expands on Ilene Val-Essen’s decades of experience through her Quality Parenting program. She offers the reader a detailed six-step process for taking a mindful journey of self-discovery from the lower to the centered to the higher self. Complete with caricatures, vignettes, and guided meditations, the book offers ways to parent with wisdom and compassion. Exercises such as “Interview with Your Higher Self” and “Identify with Your Child” help to develop inner listening and cultivate empathy and loving kindness.

Val-Essen writes with an openness that engages the reader and an organized style that makes her work easy to follow. She tells how to “follow our own intuition, strengthen family bonds through creating win-win situations, embrace imperfection and turn conflicts into opportunities for growth, cultivate acceptance as a catalyst for change, and develop the capacity for forgiveness and the expression of unconditional love.” Val-Essen understands the joys and perils that inhabit the path of parenting, and offers her insights in an honest and skillful way.

The other day, out of nowhere, my four-year-old son came up, hit me, and walked away. I found myself about to react with incensed reproach. But then I stopped and asked myself, how would my higher self respond? Taking a breath, I sensed he wanted connection. “Bodhi,” I said with a calm and firm tone, “we don’t do that in this family. Do you need some connection with me?” “Yes!” he spluttered. “Then I declare a two-minute hug-out!” I said. After two minutes of hugging, we were laughing and feeling more connected.  

Parenting with Wisdom and Compassion is a beautiful mindfulness bell that, if put into practice, is sure to generate a happy and magical family garden.

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