- Written by Pat Pughe-Parry
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Does someone who hasn't had children and doesn't have relevant medical or educations qualifications have the right to tell you how to parent your children?
A few months ago, a young man, named Daniel Dinnie e-mailed me and told me he was writing a book about parenting and he wanted to interview us in connection with the ADHD work we did.
Several weeks later I opened our front door and this intense young man greeted me. Of course being a parent and a grandparent, my first question was, "do you have children?" to which he replied a very firm no! Ahaa ... "so what gives you the authority to tell others how to be effective parents if you have no experience yourself?" were my silent thoughts.
Dave and I chatted to him for an hour or so and he took lots of notes and shared his reasons for wanting to write this book. He had had an unhappy childhood and believed that if his parents had been better informed things could have been different.
Ahaa – went my thought processes again. "Ok so this is going to be a book about revenge against his parents and blaming society for all the bad things he has faced."
But somehow Daniel grew on me. I have 2 sons around the same age and I know that I made plenty of parenting mistakes and have spent the last 10 years working hard on changing the way I do things.
I admired Daniel's passion and his commitment even though I was sceptical. I decided I wanted to help him achieve his goal and invited him to promote his, as yet, unpublished book at The Modern ADHD Family Conference. In return he willingly took the photos and helped out on the day.
Last Friday he delivered to us copies of his book, Through The Crimson Mirror, hot off the press. He had personalised copies printed for Dave and I, which touched us greatly. It also made me panic a bit. It was now real and I was going to have to read it and comment on it. I am not good at conflict so what if I don't like it, what would I say?
I took the book along to our small group and the first person I showed it to, looked at the cover and said, "does Daniel know there is a spelling error here?" My heart sank and I wanted to weep for him. I am also ashamed to say that it re-enforced my pre-conceived ideas about what my reaction to the book was going to be.
Last night at 11pm I decided to take the plunge and started to read. Oops. It seems that I was not alone in questioning his right to preach on how to parent. Yet, he is quite right. As we all are, he is the product of parents and why shouldn't he talk about it? He makes this clear in the first few pages.
This sets the tone for the book and for some reason I couldn't put it down. No, it is not a literary master-piece, in fact if I was reading with my usual perspective, I would have been angry at the spelling and grammatical errors and dismissed the book out of hand. It is so easy to make snap judgements, isn't it?
Yet there is a strange charm to it. The passion and the honesty compelled me to read on and focus instead on the messages Daniel was conveying and I am so glad that I did. He has done some interesting research, he speaks from the heart with the passion of his generation and although he touches on his painful past it is by no means a "woe is me" story.
It is about struggling to cope in a world when you have not learned to communicate effectively and although you are bright and well educated without the appropriate social skills you become an outcast, lonely and withdrawn.
Yes, he is idealistic, critical and blunt. I sense a deep anger that is not fully resolved, at his parents and the educational system of his generation. Parenting is the most difficult job in the world and no-one is prepared for it. Some cope better than others but we all make mistakes and are the products of our own parents and belief systems.
Each generation has its own issues and this book voiced the thoughts that many of our young clients express. It has helped me understand the environment and times that my children have grown up in. For new parents there are some good lessons to teach your children.
Daniel, I commend your courage and empathise strongly with your parents who you acknowledge did the best with the tools they had. I look forward to the release of the next 2 books in this series. I am proud to have met you.
PS. The mistake on the cover was due to last minute editing to improve something else. Don't judge this book by its cover.