First published in 1977, the updated and revised edition How To Really Love Your Child remains relevant for today’s parents facing the challenges of raising kids in the 21st century. In the first few pages Campbell asserts that most of today’s parenting issues emerge when children don’t feel loved by their parents. The parents may in fact love their children but have failed to discover how best to demonstrate unconditional love to their children.
While the home environment continues to be the most significant influence in the lives of children, their “congenital temperament” ranks second. The description of these nine temperaments in chapter 1 could be very helpful for parents of young children.
The core of the book begins with Chapter 3 – The foundation, and continues through chpts 4-6: showing love through eye contact, physical contact, and focused attention. Campbell does zero in on a common issue in parenting – responding to your child’s anger. He writes, “Teaching our children and teenagers to handle anger is what I truly consider to be the most difficult part of parenting. First, it is difficult because it does not come naturally……Second…because it is a long, tedious process.” (pp. 81-82). Campbell goes on to say that it should be our goal to teach our children “to handle anger maturely by the age of 16 or 17.” (p.83) Given that reality it might be a good idea to read more on this topic in Campbell’s book: How To Really Love Your Angry Child.
I appreciate that Campbell takes 10 chapters to lay the ground work for learning to love our children better before he addresses punishment. He writes: “I hope you will apply the principles in the first 10 chapters before trying to apply rules relating to discipline. Please love your child unconditionally and give a superabundance of eye contact, physical contact, and focused attention.”
I found Campbell’s advice on parenting to be very refreshing because he avoids creating a parenting “system” where if you follow each step exactly will mean that well-adjusting, spiritually-grounded kids will emerge out the other end of the conveyer belt! These are guiding principles that will need to considered and applied uniquely to each child.
Even though I am an empty nester grandparent of a toddler I found How To Really Love Your Child to be both helpful and engaging as I reflected back on my own parenting style and consider my new role as a grandparent. I would recommend that all parents read this book and discuss any changes that should be made in their parenting practices with their spouse.