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Book Summary – The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read (and Your Children Will Be Glad That You Did)

Have you ever considered how your childhood influences your parenting style? In her book, Philippa Perry shares insights on improving our parent-child relationship by reflecting on our childhood experiences and their impact on our current behaviors.

In this free summary of The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read, we examine Perry’s ideas and tips, valuable for parents, parents-to-be, and anyone who wishes to understand and improve their relationships with their parents.

The Book You Wish Your  Parents Had Read: An Overview

Philippa Perry believes great parenting is built on a strong, loving connection between parent and child. In this book, she advises parents to reflect on their own upbringing, break negative cycles, and foster a nurturing environment where children can thrive.

We present these ideas in 6 key sections in this free version of our book summary: The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read summary - 6 themes

We’ll now dive into the first part in detail, with a brief overview of the remaining 5 parts. You can get the full details for all 6 sections in our complete 18-page The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read summary.

Part 1: Examine Your Parenting Legacy

The Past Affects the Present

How we react to our children reflects more about us than our children. Our reactions often result from our fears, insecurities, and expectations, which are influenced by our childhood experiences.

For example, Perry recounted how one of her clients, Tay, had refused her 7-year old daughter’s plea for help. After some reflection, Tay realized that she was still angry with her caregiver, whose over-protectiveness had made her feel scared and helpless as a child. And, she had unintentionally directed that anger at her daughter, Emily. The next time Emily got stuck on elevated ground, Tay helped her down, apologized for the previous encounter, and explained her realizations.

Our children’s behaviors or experiences can also trigger feelings and memories from our own childhoods. For example, if one of your parents left when you were 4, you might withdraw emotionally from your child subconsciously when he/she reaches that age

Become mindful of your reactions. The next time you feel an intense reaction or emotion towards your child—such as anger, indignance, shame, or panic—pause to reflect. You could be projecting old emotional responses onto your child.

Address Your Inner Critic

Our negative self-talk not only hurts our self-esteem and resilience; they’re often passed on to our children.
Our desire to be a “good” parent (or the fear of being a “bad” one) can make us overly defensive or critical. Set aside labels or the need for perfection. Focus on growth, learning, and progress instead.

Repair Relationship Ruptures

To build a healthy relationship, you must address and repair ruptures. Emotional ruptures occur when we respond in ways that lead to feelings of hurt, confusion, or disconnection in others. Acknowledge that you’ve reacted poorly, apologize to your child, and explain your emotions and actions honestly, like Tay did.
Acknowledging and addressing them helps you to repair the relationship, and role-model how to admit to mistakes and make amends.

Here’s a visual recap of the key ideas we just covered:

The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read summary - Examine Your Parenting Legacy

Part 2: Create a Nurturing Environment

To flourish, children need a nurturing environment that caters to their emotional and psychological needs. A child’s environment includes his family, school, and friends. The quality of these relationships matters much more than the social structures or physical environment.

Demonstrate unity and respect in co-parenting

Children see themselves as extensions of both parents. When parental conflict occurs, they might feel torn between 2 parents and internalize negative comments about either parent as their personal flaws. When parents share mutual love, respect, and understanding, it contributes greatly to a child’s emotional well-being. Even if the parents are separated, it’s crucial to maintain a united front and prioritize the child’s emotional needs.

Develop Goodwill

Develop goodwill in your relationships by showing a willingness to consider and address each other’s needs and feelings.

Part 3: Cultivate Emotional Intelligence in the Family

Feelings are crucial to a child’s development. To nurture emotionally healthy and resilient children, parents must understand and validate their children’s feelings.

Don’t dismiss or disallow feelings in children. This might make them emotionally detached or feel unworthy of attention. Don’t over-react to their emotions either.

• Instead, encourage your child to express all emotions, even the uncomfortable or unpleasant ones.

• However, in order to teach your child to accept and manage their feelings, you must first learn to accept and manage your own feelings.

Learn more about developing emotional intelligence in both parent and child, with detailed tips and examples in our full 18-page version of The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read summary.

Part 4: Lay a Foundation for Emotional Connection

The bond between parent and child starts during pregnancy, before the child is even born.

• The thought-emotional patterns formed during this window set the tone for your future relationship.

•  See your child as a unique individual with whom to form a genuine relationship, not a project to be managed efficiently.

•  Bond with your unborn child through positive thoughts and conversations.

In our full summary, explore each of the insights above, along with an exploration of the attachment theory (how to develop a secure attachment style in children), and how to address postnatal challenges.

Part 5: Address Factors for Mental-Emotional Health

Early childhood experiences shape a child’s sense of security and well-being. Thus, it’s best to build a strong foundation for mental-emotional health as early as possible.

•  A deep parent-child bond is established through reciprocal influence or “give and take.”

•  Make time daily to observe your child closely with the goal of understanding their needs, interests, reactions, and developing personality. Remember: your child is a tiny human who can teach you a lot—if you pay attention and learn to experience the world through their eyes.

•  Other aspects of a child’s mental-emotioanl health include: nurturing development through play, pros/cons and alternatives  to sleep training, and healthy ways to develop independence.

These insights in covered in greater detail in our complete 18-page full book summary.

Part 6: Understand Their Language of Behavior

Often, children behave in inconvenient or inappropriate ways because they lack the ability to manage their feelings or express themselves properly.

• When children misbehave, consider the underlying message instead of seeing it as a cause for discipline. Then, reframe the “bad” behavior by helping your child communicate it more effectively. Don’t turn it into a battle of wills.

• To exhibit socially appropriate behavior, children need to learn 4 essential skills: flexibility, the ability to tolerate frustration, problem-solving skills, and the ability to empathize with others.

• Learn how to manage your own responses to children’s tantrums and outbursts, to teach or role-model how to handle their own emotions effectively.

For a detailed explanation of the detailed steps/tips to help a child develop the 4 skills for exhibiting socially-appropriate behavior, check out our The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read summary.

Getting the Most from The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read

Ultimately, parenting is about developing an authentic, reciprocal, and lifelong relationship between parent and child. This requires mutual respect, empathy, understanding and love.  In this article, we’ve briefly outlined some of the key insights and strategies you can use to understand and address your own emotions and past, which can lead to healthier, more empathetic relationships with your children. Perry addresses not just principles, but also a range of practical concerns like: Should you go for routine or flexibility? Is it bad to give the child too much attention?

For more examples, details, and actionable tips on applying these strategies, get our full book summary bundle, including an infographic, 18-page text summary, and a 25-minute audio summary.
The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read summary - Book Summary Bundle

The book includes numerous anecdotes from Perry’s clients and her own parenting experience. There are also several tips and exercises to help readers reflect on their childhood and their parent-child relationships. TYou can purchase the book here or visit to learn more about her.

For more parenting tips and insights, do also check out our summaries for: No Drama Discipline, and How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk.

About the Author of The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read

The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read (and Your Children Will Be Glad That You Did) is written by Philippa Perry. She’s a British integrative psychotherapist, a TV presenter, a journalist, and the author of several books, including a graphic novel. Perry studied Fine Art at Middlesex Polytechnic in the ’90s, and her artwork has been featured in several magazines, newspapers, and galleries.

The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read Quotes

“Being a parent can be hard work. It can be boring, dispiriting, frustrating, and taxing while at the same time being the funniest, most joyful, most love-filled, brilliant thing you’ll ever experience.”

“The core of parenting is the relationship you have with your child. If people were plants, the relationship would be the soil.”

“Whatever age your child is, they are liable to remind you, on a bodily level, of the emotions you went through when you were at a similar stage.”

“You don’t have to do everything that was done to you; you can ditch the things that were unhelpful.”

“It is not the mistakes that matter so much; it’s how we put them right.”

“It is not the rupture that is so important; it is the repair that matters.”

“What children need is for us to be real and authentic, not perfect.”

Click here to download the full infographic & summary


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