Parenting from the Inside Out: How a Deeper Self-Understanding Can Help You Raise Children Who Thrive

Reviewed Publisher: 
New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam. 258 pp. ISBN: 1-58542-209-6.
Reviewed Title: 
Parenting from the Inside Out: How a Deeper Self-Understanding Can Help You Raise Children Who Thrive (2003)

Dr. Siegel and Ms. Hartzell have collaborated to bring us a truly exceptional parenting book. This book should be required reading for all parents and for anyone working with families. Further, the insights to be gained through understanding one's own development is of great value whether or not you are a parent. The blending of neurobiology and attachment research has resulted in a comprehensive and very readable text describing how interpersonal relationships directly affect the development of the brain.

Rather than teach parents "techniques" for better parenting, Dr. Siegel and Ms. Hartzell have endeavored to guide parents to a level of self-understanding and self-acceptance that allows their own innate wisdom to emerge in parenting. Each chapter in the book provides an "inside-out" exercise to facilitate this self-understanding and self-acceptance. Each chapter also provides a "spotlight on science" section, presenting current scientific research that supports concepts presented in the chapter.

The importance of self-understanding is stated in the very first sentence of the introduction, "How you make sense of your childhood experiences has a profound effect on how you parent your own children." Notice this does not say that your childhood experiences have a profound effect, but "how you make sense of your childhood experiences..." When one makes sense of childhood experiences, a "coherent narrative" describing these experiences is possible. Dr. Siegel in his book, The Developing Mind, first presented the proposal that such narratives emerge out of a blending of right/left modes of processing. Parenting from the Inside Out guides individuals in the process of developing a coherent narrative and offers suggested ways that parents might encourage the development of coherent narratives in their children.

In discussing the world of attachment research, on pages 118-119, the concept of the ABCs (attunement, balance, and coherence) of attachment is presented. Understanding of these ABCs enables parents to recognize and encourage these basic components of healthy attachment.

The "spotlight on science" section of Chapter 7 is the most concise discussion of the brain's functioning as an integrated system you will find anywhere. "The brain in the palm of your hand" is a teaching and learning tool that is worth the price of the book.

As stated in the closing paragraph, "Creating coherence can be a lifelong adventure." This book is a wonderful guide and companion for the adventure.

Publication Date: 
10/2004