• NZ Booklovers

The Parenting Project by Amy Alamar and Kristine Schlichting

In a time when children have many things vying for their attention, you want to be the one your child turns to for advice and comfort. In The Parenting Project, Doctors Amy Alamar and Kristine Schlichting translate research into practice to help parents create a connection with their children through the habit of talking with one another every day.

Often parenting books can come across as punitive, too formulaic, or are completely impractical for everyday families. However, The Parenting Project is a refreshing breath in an overcrowded genre. It is not a manual, but rather provides families with prompts and activities to help start conversations.

The pair explore a broad range of subjects that apply to everyday life, broken into five categories – heart-based, uncomfortable, dangerous, character, and brave - for easy reference. Parents facing some tricky situations can turn to the book for advice on how to broach the subjects. There are prompts for dealing with a myriad of situations, including divorce, gender identity, bullying, mental health, and sex and sexuality.

Most of all though, the book helps parents understand the importance of conversation, and how it shouldn’t only happen when there is a big issue to tackle. Open communication is a skill that doesn’t always come naturally. The Parenting Project provides the framework to help build that kind of relationships that will last forever. Perhaps even more importantly, children will be able to carry those skills into their adult life, thus preparing them for successful relationships at work and home in the future.

The books helps set the groundwork for parents to create the expectation that our homes are safe spaces where emotions can be expressed, guidance can be sought, and where support for each other is found.

The book itself is easy to navigate and can be picked up and read at random. Parents can dive in and out of the book for specific advice, while also reading it cover to cover. Bright graphics and an uncluttered feeling make it simple to read. Each chapter also begins with a quote about conversations, speech and character that invites deeper thinking and reflection.

The authors also offer a brief look at other parenting skills, including information about growth mindset, emotional wellbeing and technology.

The Parenting Project is a well thought-out, interesting read on a part of parenting many of us underestimate the power and importance of. A practical, empowering book to help families build extraordinary relationships through the power of conversation.

Reviewer: Rebekah Fraser

Allen & Unwin, RRP $32.99