Real Parents for Real KidsHow many of you began the journey of parenthood even before pregnancy either assuming all will be fine and you will have that sweet, cuddly Gerber baby and be a great parent or going at it with fervor and determination that you will never do to your kids what was done to you—so therefore your children will be happy and loving? And you certainly won’t have kids like the ones you see acting out in the supermarket.

Most moms fit somewhere in this picture of hopes and expectations and end up finding themselves in very foreign territory. I certainly did. My first child allowed me to hold up the banner of “best mother in the world”. He was a peace of cake. It was my second child, my daughter who pulled me up short and turned, no snapped, my head around, but only after many years of power struggles and feeling like a terrible mother.

For Melissa Hood, my friend and colleague, it was the same. She too was lulled by an easy first and then… I’ll let her speak for herself. And then we’re going to give away one of her new books, Real Parenting, for Real Kids, hot off the British press.

Before I had children I thought all you needed to be a good parent was to love your kids. I did love my kids but when it came to it I found I needed a whole lot more than that. Parenting turned out to quite different from what I’d expected.

My son, Christian, tested all my parenting abilities–and they were found wanting. He was rough and mean with his brother, he irritated his sister, he got into scrapes at preschool, he broke things and didn’t do as he was told. He was like a whirlwind, getting into everything, especially anything sharp or dangerous. He got lost in busy places as he wandered off and anything forbidden was like a magnet. He did the opposite of what he was asked to do. Not all the time, but enough for me to not always like being with him much, which made me feel sad and guilty. His early childhood was characterised by him doing one thing or another that got him into trouble, both at home and at school.

I can remember wondering what I’d done to deserve this. My instinct was to be loving, which I could be. But then he’d do something awful, and I’d think he needs to be punished. So I’d do that. That didn’t work either and the behaviour continued. When he was little we’d tried ignoring and distracting only to be met with greater persistence. We sent him to his room, we withdrew privileges–sometimes quite big treats that we’d all been looking forward to for a long time ­­–and he got told off, lectured and scolded. I tried cajoling, pleading and bribing too. None of it worked. We felt powerless.

Parenting Christian provided the crisis that set me off on the adventure where I discovered the skills, strategies and insights set out in Real Parenting for Real Kids, often by seeing what didn’t work.

Bonnie’s book When Your Kids Push Your Buttons, And What You Can Do About It really made a profound
difference to me as this provided the missing piece about why I’d get upset sometimes and not be able to access the skills I knew about. This book really helped me understand myself. I met Bonnie and we began collaborating to share what we know with parents.

I met Melissa the first time I ran a workshop in London, not long after she had started The Parent Practice, a similar Melissa Hoodparent education organization to the one I had started here at home. I have been going back to London almost every year since and teaching at The Parent Practice where I feel right at home as our parenting principles are so aligned.

Our stories are so similar, and what we have come to believe as the most effective way to raise all our children is so similar, that I am thrilled and honored to offer you the opportunity to get a free copy of her terrific new book just in time for Mother’s Day. (And for the rest of you, go onto amazon and buy one. You won’t be sorry.)

In order to win a copy, all you need to do is make a comment below. Tell us anything you want to about what you thought parenting would be like BC (before children). A week from Mother’s Day, about 9:00pm EST on Sunday May 15, I will use a random number generator to determine the winner. I will let the winner know, send Melissa your email address, and she will send you a copy of Real Parenting, for Real Kids.

Congratulations to Caroline – the book giveaway winner.

Sorry to the rest of you but do check out the book here.


19 thoughts on “Real Parenting, for Real Kids

  1. My son, age 30 and single Dad, has been reading Connective Parenting and I am so glad he has this resource to help him raise his 6 year-old son. This would make a great book for him (and me)!

  2. As a social worker I knew that parenting was not always easy and that kids come with their own personalities. However I thought I would be able to rise above that with my skills, life experiences, and resources. I envisioned all sorts of wonderful adventures, showing them the world & exploring the world with them. I thought I would be able to stay grounded and flexible through any storms. But my second child proved me wrong, and highlighted all my weaknesses and places where I still have work to do on myself.

  3. I thought it would be so much easier.
    I find it so hard. My girls are adopted and I thought because we wanted them so badly, it would all work out fine. It’s been so very tough. Desperately hard.

  4. I dreamed of being a mother ever since I can remember. I love children and couldn’t wait to have my own. I thought it would be gratifying, fulfilling, fun…even easy at times. Which now with a couple young children I can say it is not all the time – at least not until I take a step back and reflect. Being a parent is certainly not for the faint…there’s no greater job that is more rewarding – though I feel I will truly believe that when they are grown and on their own. I get glimpse of my “tweener” when I get compliments from school, friends…how lovely, wonderful & gracious she is. I say thank you though think to myself is this my daughter they are speaking of? I think my pre-children notions were not that far off – just as long as I can take a step back and not take it all so seriously – which is not so easy to do.

  5. Before children I could never understand why there were “candy free” check out lines in grocery stores. I simply thought “Just keep your child away from the candy itself if you don’t want to buy it.”
    Now the parent of four young children, I love the candy free check out line. It is not so much that my kids ask for the candy if we are in a check out line that happens to have it, it is all the questions that go along with the candy choices. I try to be patient, but I just want to check out and go. How I laugh at my old thinking. 🙂

  6. When I started thinking about having children, I think I knew that it wouldn’t always be sunshine and lollipops, but I had no idea how hard it could actually be, how testing and exhausting every single day, nor how much love I could feel in my heart. A love so deep, so real, that sometimes I feel like I’m floating, and other times it is quite painful. It really is, excuse the cliche, an emotional roller coaster. This book would be perfect for me!

  7. I thought it looked fairly easy from the outside. On reflection I was probably quite judgmental too. The reality has stopped me judging others and made me realise the range of daily chalenges famillies might be facing.

  8. How disillusioned I am to have a son who doesn’t seem to want to enjoy peaceful family life. Everytime we want to treat him he wants something better, is disappointed. I’m so sad about the fact that we can’t please each other.

    1. Oh but Suzanne, you can please each other. He just may not feel pleasure the same way you do. I had to respond to this because I know you do not have to have this sadness in your relationship. The struggle of parenting is to accept your child how he is and then find balance so you appreciate and respect each other. If you would like to talk about how that might change, I’d be happy to have a conversation with you about it. Just send me an email at

  9. Hi I would love this book as a mother of three. A 12 son, 9 year old daughter and 2.5 year old son. My husband often travel for work and will be away for Mother’s Day. It is when I parent solo that I realise how important it is to look after your self to take care of your kids well but the challenge lies within that there is little room for self care. I am also a parenting educator and will use parts of your work to hell parents in Adelaide, Australia.

  10. I didn’t expect all of the work involved in changing my deep rooted ‘programming’. An amazing spiritual journey, well worth the effort for myself and my boys.

  11. I aspired to be self realized before I had kids. It turns out I needed them to help me on that path!

    I cared for many children before having my own and I never understood why parents went out on dates and needed me as a sitter so often. I now understand and I hope to do the same (even though it’s something my parents didn’t do). It’s important for the well being of our family.

  12. I loved the comment about thinking love would be enough before children. Having now had children, love is not enough, you must build self awareness and the resilience to accept both child and yourself for what you are and the strategies to mange both characters most effectively. As with all EQ skills this takes time, hard work and constant practice.

  13. I recently became a single mum and I need all the help I can get. BC I used t think how hard can parenting be, my mum had 5 of us and it looked like a piece of cake – different times. All a parent needs to do is order the kids around like little minions. I have just a son now and each time I think of having 5 kids, I just think 1 word – MADNESS!

  14. I can relate to any parent who’s first child was “easy” while their 2nd child is a challenge. I wouldn’t change much other than myself and I find it remarkable how our 2nd child has provided an opportunity to look at our worst habits/traits objectively and learn from them.

  15. I had a deep conviction that I would have behaved with a lot of patience, like I had always done, not “like the other parents I saw”.
    I would sit and play for hours enjoying my kid.
    Unfortunately my kids really know how to push my buttons, so the first years it’s been a struggle, but at least I have learned a lot and tried (and try everyday) to get back to my initial conviction.
    Still a long way to go though, but I’m sure I am, I can and I will improve.

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