The Power of Showing Up: How Parental Presence Shapes Who Our Kids Become and How Their Brains Get Wired.
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As a professional, I’ve been fascinated by attachment theory since I was in college and wrote at least three major papers on it. I have jumped at the chance to teach that section of our trainings as an excuse to go deeper into the research and learn more myself. And now that I am a parent, I see the workings of attachment every single day with my child, which has made me even more intrigued by it.
So when two of my favorite authors announced their next book would focus on attachment and parental relationships, I knew it would be a must read for me. Drs. Dan Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson also penned the hit books “The Whole Brain Child” and “No Drama Discipline”, two of which I consider essential reads for parents. And now they have added another to the list.
“The Power of Showing Up” takes years of complex attachment science, neurobiology, and child development information and breaks it down into an easy to understand and digestible overview. What I most enjoyed about this book is that it not only talked about why it is important to do things like acknowledge your child’s feelings, connect with them on a deeper level, help them regulate their bodies, and teach them to calm their brains, but it tells you HOW to do it. So many times a book preaches about why we should be doing things as parents, but then leaves us lost at the end about how we could implement those concepts. I specialize in parenting and child behavior and even I can’t interpret them sometimes. Parenting is HARD, and every child is different. Having some direction and a place to start in practicing new skills is a wonderful breath of fresh air.
Not only does this book give you strategies for how to interact with your child, it also gives you the tools to explore yourself as a parent. One of the biggest concepts in attachment research is that we tend to parent how we were parented, unless we do the work to recognize our challenges and change our behavior. This is great to know, but again, HOW do we do it? “The Power of Showing Up” takes parents through how to explore their own history with their parents and make sense of their stories in order to be free of their pasts and be present with their child. In every section, there are questions to ask yourself, or presumably discuss with a partner, that can take you deeper into your own triggers and challenges as a parent.
Lastly, as in their other books, Siegel and Payne Bryson have managed to teach about vitally important parenting concepts without the added dose of shame that so many self-help books can bring. They are quick to acknowledge that no parent is perfect, and there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to parenting problems. Their prompts to look at the challenges within ourselves come with a healthy side of empathy about how we got here as humans, and that beating ourselves up about our shortcomings won’t benefit us as parents, or our children. This shame-free approach makes it so much easier to dive into those spaces as a parent where I know I have work to do but are hard to face.
All in all, count this as another win. Every parent should read this book!