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I'm OK, You're My Parents    by Dale Atkins order for
I'm OK, You're My Parents
by Dale Atkins
Order:  USA  Can
Henry Holt, 2004 (2004)
* * *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

This book focuses on adult children with strained parental relationships. Through sound concepts, case studies, exercises, and the application of forward-looking strategies, Dr. Dale Atkins details behavior modification for parents and adult children in a step-by-step plan. The book offers intelligent, practical, no-nonsense approaches for adults whose relationship with their parents hinders moving on with their own lives.

Dr. Atkins promotes analysis, leading to action, and the acceptance of painful change in dealing with parents on a day-to-day basis. Her most important premise is the need for 'alteration of (one's own) behavior to trigger positive changes in your parents'. She advises that there are no 'poof' - 'magical' solutions. In order 'to cement yourself as a grown-up', the adult child needs to distance herself/himself from attitudes resulting from guilt feelings passed on from parents. The opinions of the author are at times witty, albeit truthful. In discussing the concept of guilt, and in answer to clichés such as that no one can make you feel guilty, Dr. Atkins states: 'Well, frankly, that's unrealistic bunk!.'

The book includes excellent self-applicable exercises, and valuable pointers, e.g. talking to parents to understand their childhood is a key to unlock an understanding of why parents treat their adult children as they do. The author offers pros and cons of unrealistic expectations that adult children may have of their parents. She tells us that an objective assessment of interactions in raising awareness level of body language (including tone of voice) is elementary to establishing a productive parental relationship. A very strong point is to develop empathy by getting into a person's head and heart to 'feel' what the other person is experiencing. Relationships, Atkins states, go beyond 'a few peppy affirmations ... or empowerment lists'.

I'm OK, You're My Parents is one of the best self-help, relationship-building books I have read in all my years. The author doesn't just give possible solutions, but follows through with suggested actions, and steps to take to make changes. A tremendous amount of work is required in any and all relationships. I believe that the principles of this book are applicable whether it is a relationship of: parent/adult/child; marital; friendship; coworker or peer. Parent-child relationships do not have storybook, TV-series or movie fantasy endings. Dr. Atkins gives sound advice in telling us, instead of struggling fiercely with a parent/adult child relationship, to find a sense-of-self separate from parents. This is the goal of her book and therapy sessions.

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