Review: Being the Grownup: Love, Limits, and the Natural Authority of Parenthood by Adelia Moore
Children need adults to survive. This, despite the profound change our digital era has wrought on family life, remains the essence of parenthood. Being the Grownup The Natural Authority of Parenthood begins not with what should be, but with what is: If you are a parent, it is your job to provide shelter and safety, to make decisions about education, childcare, health and nourishment, to create the habitat that is the context and crucible of family life. Being the Grownup helps parents translate their determination to care for and protect their children into the clarity they need to communicate authority with a firm confidence, whether for bedtime, screen-time or mealtime. Just as she would in a clinical conversation, the author shifts the focus away from disciplinary strategies and back to the core of parenthood, the relationship between parents and children as it evolves, moment-to-moment, from the dependence of infancy to the autonomy of young adulthood.
There are a host of reasons that contemporary parents might feel uneasy about embracing their natural authority. There have always been parents who doubted themselves, often blaming their children, who may seem determined to challenge every limit. If authority is natural, why is that so? Looking for the answer in the characteristics of developmental stages or parenting strategies often leaves parents frustrated, because being a parent is not something you do to a child but something you are with a child. Parental authority is not simply a matter of discipline with time-outs, or even skilled negotiation and conflict resolution. Parent and child are two human beings whose bodies and voices, experiences, perspectives and emotions shape their interactions with each other. Like everything else about relationships, it’s complicated.
Being the Grownup zeroes in on the core challenge for every parent, the hard work of building a relationship that combines trust and connection with confident authority children can feel and rely on. Relationships take time, and so does learning about relationships. Readers will not find bullet points or formulas. Instead, to more fully understand what happens moment to moment between parents and children, and what patterns between them may strengthen or undermine parents’ authority, my readers will find moments in the parent-child relationship examined from a variety of angles. Each chapter delves deep into a topic, including attachment, temperament, family systems theory and body language, making connections from theory and research to everyday family life.
No one book can tell you what to do in every situation with every child. There are simply too many variables. That’s why it’s important to know more about what to think about parenthood and the relationship you have with each of your children: Being the Grownup helps you do that.
Being a Grownup wasn’t your typical advice book dealing with parenting. Even though I expected a different book in terms of theme and content, I got a well researched and thought provoking perspective featuring intelligent narrative that neither judged nor preached what she thought parents should do. You receive a well balanced perspective from not only a parent but a psychologist that gives you so much food for thought to weigh out with your own style of parenting.
Many people put their two cents in when they observe a parent doing something they perceive as right or wrong but ultimately it comes down to you finding your “natural authority” and balance to be a great parent. She helps parents understand their responsibility for their children and presents strategies to communicate with them. She tries to lessen the burden of their insecurities of being a good parent by stressing their status as the grownup while building their confidence to what feels right to them. Overall, this was an interesting book tackling parenthood not only from her own experience but her professional as well. There is much to gain from her insight and research that I think many parents might be incorporated in their own lives.