Beyond Consequences, Logic and Control – My review

Published October 25, 2014 by thefamilyof5

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This book by Heather T Forbes claims to give you a new understanding of how to love and parent your children. The ideas within this book come not only from Heather’s own research as a professional or as an experienced family therapist, but also mainly from her direct experiences as an adoptive mother herself. I received a free copy of this book to review a while ago.

Its taken me some time to read, mostly due to the summer holidays being so busy and then the start of our new therapy not leaving me much brain space for reading!

I wont deny finding this book hard going at times, but I suspect that this is mostly due to the above rather than the book itself.

The book is broken down in to 3 parts.

Part One – The principles of a New Understanding

‘The greatest science in the world in heaven and on earth, is love’ – mother Teresa

Extracts: Unconditional love is love without requiring anything in return – Love no matter what. It is telling your child, ‘I love you’ without expecting him to say ‘I love you’ in return.

Love celebrates the moment of victory and lets go of the past. When your teenage daughter comes back after running away from home without telling you where she was, you say, ‘I’m so glad you’re home. I’ve really missed you. We need to celebrate your return.’

Love stays focused on the relationship and the experience, not the outcome, love trusts that is the experience is void of fear, the out come will take care of itself.

Part Two – Seven Behaviors Rooted in Fear

‘The body says what words cannot’ – Martha Graham

Extracts: When we stay focused on why our children are acting out and being demanding, it keeps us in a place of love and acceptance.

You have the ability to help your child simply by putting love in to action.

You have to shift to the mindset of understanding that you are not dealing with behaviors; you are dealing with an unexpressed emotional state of fear and overwhelm.

Part Three – Parenting Bonus Section

A collection of real life stories from parents that have followed this approach.

This book gives examples of real life scenarios and then offers the ‘Traditional approach’ to parenting, followed up with Heathers ‘New approach’. There are also a few places in this book that refer to things from Volume 1, I think I’d have liked to have read this one first. I like that it gives real life examples, things we as parents can relate to and have probably been faced with ourselves. I also like that it shows the differences between the traditional parenting approaches and her own new parenting approaches, this makes it so much easier to see how traditional approaches have a tendency to increase shame levels and intensify behaviors. I’m less fond of the implications that the traditional approach doesn’t involve ‘love’, but I do understand that, that isn’t what is meant here. I really like that the topic of self harming is covered, this is the first book I’ve read that has been brave enough to cover such a sensitive and controversial topic that is a problem for many of our children. I did sometimes feel however that some of the children’s reactions to the ‘New approach’ were somewhat unrealistic, I’m not sure my children would roll over and tell me the problem so easily as some of the children in this book did.

In general, I like this book, it talks about focusing on the relationship you have with your child over everything else. It talks about looking at the root fear behind the behaviors from a love based place rather than a fear based place. Our children act out in response to a fear, a deep overwhelming feeling that they’re unable to control, and generally (by generally I mean me) we respond to our children’s behavior’s with our own fear in the forefront of our minds. ‘why did they do that?’ ‘how will I get them to stop?’ ‘what sort of a future will they have if this is how they behave?’ etc etc  We all know you cant fight fire with fire, yet we try (again by we I mean me). The approach in this book suggests we put our own fears aside and focus on the fears of the child thus enabling us to calm their fear and in-turn reduce or eliminate the behaviors.

Whilst I like this book, and I often aspire to be the parent its teaching us to be, I think it takes a special kind of person. I know of the people it talks about in this book, I know some just like it, but me, well, I don’t think I’m cut out for it, not completely anyway.

In the heat of the moment my own fear takes over and I don’t always respond in the most appropriate of ways. One of the examples in the book is of a mum who discovers her daughter cutting/self harming. The suggested reaction is to sit with the daughter, empathise about how much pain she must be feeling inside and offer her your love and acceptance to sit with her whilst she cuts. Could I do this? no, I’d panic, Id completely freak out and scream and shout and probably make things a million times worse. I wouldn’t be able to find my inner calm in this situation. My own fear based reactions would take over.

Another scenario is that of a little boy, its his party and rather than playing with his friends he’s hanging around the adults and being demanding. General parenting techniques would be to tell him he needs to go play with his friends and stop being a nuisance. The approach the book suggests is to take the little boy aside, away from every one in to a calm and quiet environment, and ask gently what seems to be the matter. In the scenario the little boy doesn’t answer any of the questions but once he’s calmed down and is feeling regulated he blurts out the word ‘cupcake’. The parent then realises the little boy was worried there would be no cakes left for him and the parent reassures him that he will ensure he gets one. Can I do this? yes, I do, quite often. Do my children react in this way, no, never. I can take them aside and soothe them and calm them but they’re still unable to verbalise to me what the problem is/was. This tends to leave me frustrated meaning the next time it happens meaning I’m less therapeutic.

I really like the idea’s behind this book and its given me a better understanding of how my own reaction to the girls behaviors are driven by fear. I’m not going to turn in to a therapeutic wonder mom, and I doubt I’ll ever be as good as this books suggests we can be, but, I am already noticing that I am more aware of my own reactions to behaviors. It hasn’t stopped me responding in fear, in the moment, but I am finding myself reflecting more and have been better able to reconnect with the girls afterwards. Maybe its a work in progress! 

Remember you can buy this book and Heather’s other books here:


2 comments on “Beyond Consequences, Logic and Control – My review

  • I think maybe that’s why many traditional parenting responses involve consistent consequences: it gives boundaries for the parent as well as the child. In other words, when this happens, i do this. So that the fear-based response is kept in check.

    I cannot say how much even responding to the child’s fear in a comforting, calming way, even when you don’t know the reason for their upset really helps. The verbalizing is only half of it. The other half is having someone who can see how you are feeling, cares about it, and takes time to help you regulate that emotion just by being a calm presence with you.

    Your other thought–that you’d yell about self-harming–points out the wisdom of sometimes waiting to react.

    God bless you for the love you are giving your kids.

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