The Whole Parent: How to Become a Terrific Parent Even If You Didn't Have One

The Whole Parent: How to Become a Terrific Parent Even If You Didn't Have One

The Whole Parent: How to Become a Terrific Parent Even If You Didn't Have One

The Whole Parent: How to Become a Terrific Parent Even If You Didn't Have One


In The Whole Parent, parents are taken on a compelling, in-depth journey of discovery and healing that can help them improve their lives and the lives of their children. Wesselmann, an expert in parent-child counseling, contends that contrary to what most people believe, parental instincts are not born to us. Despite the best intentions and genuine love for their children, parents who grew up with inadequate nurturing find themselves trapped in a generational cycle of problematic parent-child relationships. The author shows how moms and dads struggle with shame and frustration as parental ghosts of the past affect their relationships with their children.

This is an invaluable guidebook for parents who want to give their children a more solid emotional foundation than the one they received from their own parents. As the author asserts, there is nothing parents can do that will have more impact on their own lives, the lives of their children, and even the lives of their grandchildren than to break unhealthy patterns of relating.


A trained foster parent worked with a child while the birth parent watched behind a one-way window. As the parent watched, tears glistened in her eyes: "She is a professional and makes relating to Angie look so easy. I wish I could relate to her that way . . . Foster, you just don't learn this parenting stuff from tv, no matter how many family sitcoms you watch, do you?"

No, you don't!

Parenting is even tougher when a parent's childhood was dysfunctional. As Deb Wesselmann so eloquently points out, those ever-waiting ghosts of times past sneak out of our mouths, and attempt to control our behavior. Then, out of the mouths of babes come words we shouldn't have said in the first place. and we find ourselves saying, "My mother said that, and I told myself, I would never say anything like that!

One mother, after suffering utter frustration at attempts to control her ghosts, had a unique way of coping with them:

"When I was a kid, all we ever did was fight at the dinner table. It was anger city. My dad turned it into an inquisition. He was not interested in wondering about how his kids' day went, but gave us a probing angry, intrusive, and critical type of cross-examination. Somehow it was obvious that all of us kids were somehow falling far short of his expectations. I hated dinner times when he came home.

"Then, one day, I noticed out of the blue that my kids avoided dinner times! I had no idea why! So when dinner time came, I began my inquisition about that! and Teddy said, 'Mom, you just make it no fun!' I was shocked. I couldn't believe this kid was saying the same thing to me that I had thought for years about my dad. At first I had no idea what I had been doing. But it suddenly became all too clear. So I decided, 'this has to end.' But I couldn't end it! No matter how hard I tried, I realized I just felt angry sitting down at the table with . . .

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