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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Book Review 2: Toxic Parents, A Book About Changing Your Life For The Better

General: This book is about overcoming the obstacles of hurtful parents as an adult.                                                                             review:

"All parents fall short from time to time. But Susan Forward pulls no punches when it comes to those whose deficiencies cripple their children emotionally. Her brisk, unreserved guide to overcoming the stultifying agony of parental manipulation--from power trips to guilt trips and all other killers of self worth--will help deal with the pain of childhood and move beyond the frustrating relationship patterns learned at home."

Toxic Parents: Overcoming Their Hurtful Legacy and Reclaiming Your Life
  • Paperback: 324 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam (January 2, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553381407
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553381405

      Toxic Parents is a book written by PhD., Susan Forward with Craig Buck. Susan is a therapist, and has helped many people through group therapy, individual therapy, as well as through an ABC radio show. In Toxic Parents is written to help adults deal with "inadequate" parents. Susan and Craig help guide the reader through identifying toxic parents, dealing with adult emotions, confronting toxic parents and overcoming the emotional burdens in order to achieve a sense of wellbeing. 
      Susan begins her book by identifying what exactly the term "toxic parents" means. Susan describes on page 5 that while not every parent is perfect, but, there are certain types of parents who, through their behavior and attitude, cause considerable damage to a child, ". . .there are many parents whose negative patterns of behavior are consistent and dominant in a child's life. These are the parents who do the harm." These are the  parents who Susan labels as "toxic" parents. Susan sets her book up by examining many of the common types of "toxic parents": "perfect" parents, inadequate parents, controlling parents, alcoholic (or drug addicted) parents, verbally abusive parents, physically abusive parents, and sexually abusive parents. Susan goes into great detail, and also cites examples from her many previous clients. This shows the reader that others have gone through similar situations, and gives the audience a sense of familiarity. 
      Susan develops her advice further, by offering plenty of examples of how patients described their own feelings (often of guilt, shame, worthlessness, and depression), and how the reader as well as the patient can deal with these emotions. Susan also allows you to feel better about yourself: she stresses that there is no need for you to forgive your abusers, and there is no need for you to feel guilty about it. 

      In Toxic Parents, Susan stresses that it is important that you confront your abusers, whether it be in a letter (which you can choose to mail, or keep for yourself), or in person. There is also a wonderful section of this book that discusses dealing with deceased parents. Susan truly understands the apprehension and anxiety suffered by patients as they prepare to confront their parents, and she walks you through the steps of overcoming those emotions. It is also not a hidden secret that some parents do not react well to confrontation, and Susan is ready to handle these types of responses. In Toxic Parents, Susan discusses all different types of reactions, as well as gives plenty of examples from patients who received those exact responses from their own parents. 
      Susan truly leads the reader through a journey that allows them to create self-confidence, and a healthy viewpoint of their world. By the end of the book, (assuming you read it slowly, and work through each scenario she offers) the reader should be able to move on with their life, and reflect on the future choices they want to make. Readers can chose to seek out additional therapy, to continue working on emotions that Toxic Parents helped them explore, or, if they feel ready, they can begin to decide how to deal with their parents. Many choose to maintain contact with their parents, regardless of how minimal, while some patients choose to separate themselves from their parents entirely. Whatever your choice, Susan helps the reader come to a healthy place where they can rationally decide their live course. 
      Toxic Parents can group so many different types of abuse together in one book because the products of abuse are very similar, no matter what type of abuse you suffered. No matter what the type of "toxic parent" you grew up with, you can learn from each section of this book. Susan offers many different ways to work out each problem and emotion. Also, the amount of personal accounts collected within this book creates a perfect balance of teacher and student opinions. No matter how your "toxic parent" made you feel as a child, this book creates a positive path to healthy thinking. 

Dear Abby Review:  "A dynamic, powerful, hard-hitting book. It offers tremendous hope as well as understanding. It could truly be a lifesaver." ~ Abigail Van Buren, Dear Abby

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