Listen: A Hand in Hand Parenting Book Review


I was so excited to read this book by my mentors Patty Wipfler and Tosha Schore, although part of me felt like I wouldn’t learn anything new since I’ve been an instructor with Hand in Hand Parenting for over three years now. How wrong I was!

This is a wonderful book that manages to be perfectly accessible for those completely new to Hand in Hand, and offering new ideas and inspiration for seasoned pros.

I love how the book begins with stories of Patty and Tosha’s own childhood and what led them on their parenting path. As a writer I’m always really curious at how two people can actually write a book together and the results are seamless, their voices are interwoven perfectly.

In the first chapters Patty and Tosha introduce all of the five tools, staylistening, playlistening, special time, setting limits and listening partnerships. If you’ve been dipping in and out of articles about Hand in Hand Parenting, and wondering what all the terms mean, the book will really help get it all clear in your head so you can really start putting the tools into action.

Then the book goes more in-depth to introduce the idea of emotional projects; those big issues that can be a struggle for children because of their emotional charge. So whether your project involves helping your baby with a fear of the car seat, or helping a toddler sleep through the night you can learn how to use all the Hand in Hand tools to work through those bigger difficulties.

Then there’s a section on building co-operation, with advice and examples of how you can apply the tools to everyday family challenges like mealtimes, homework and screens, and chapters on fears, and separations.

What I loved most about this book is the stories. There are over 100 stories from parents describing how they apply the tools in different situations. This was such a wealth of inspiration to me. As I read stories about how families managed screentime, and picky eating, I felt re-energised to set limits in areas where I’d got permissive, and really remind myself to listen to the feelings behind that behaviour rather than just letting the behaviour slide.

As a Hand in Hand Parenting instructor, I do have a lot of in-depth knowledge of how to apply the approach. But just like anyone else, I’m also an everyday parent. I’m not sitting in a nice tidy office consulting with parents from 9-5. I’m usually at home in the trenches, looking after my daughter, and having the odd skype call here and there where I get to be a ‘parenting expert.’

I still have my struggles. I still get tired and exhausted and can’t think clearly, and then like an athlete with an injury, I know what I need to do, but sometimes I just can’t.

At times like those I’ll call a listening partner, and I’ll also try to get fresh inspiration. That might be reading an article, or writing one, or watching one of the online self-study courses from Hand in Hand. And reading this book! In our internet age it was so refreshing to get offline, rather than jumping from one parenting article from another, to relax and let my thoughts wonder, and come back to parenting refreshed.

So if you’re completely new to Hand in Hand then grab this book to get the full picture. And if you’ve been doing Hand in Hand for years then read it to have a wonderful break and come back to parenting completely refreshed. And don’t forget to call your listening partner too, of course!

You can buy Listen direct from the Hand in Hand Parenting store, or from Amazon.

This Is How We Rebuild Our Village

We all know the saying ‘it takes a village to raise a child,’ but who these days actually has a village? Author C.J Schneider didn’t when she suffered from post-natal depression after the birth of her third child. She felt isolated and alone, after moving back to live in Canada, and when the sleep-deprivation kicked in, she didn’t have a support network to help her through it.

I was so excited to hear about Mothers of the Village: Why All Moms Need the Support of a Motherhood Community and How to Find It for Yourself And it’s everything I’d hoped for. It echoes all those feelings I’ve had since I became a mother 4 years ago.

Like C.J Schneider I never thought too consciously about building a community for myself until my daughter was born. I’ve always been writing, and by necessity that means spending lots of time alone. However being alone by myself writing and drinking tea is a lot different to being alone all day with a child.

As soon as my daughter was born I craved time with other mothers.  I’d moved to Switzerland from Vietnam just before I got pregnant, so all my community building had to start from scratch. Luckily I met lots of friendly, open mums who were in a similar position. i also trained to be a Hand in Hand parenting instructor and started listening partnerships, which helped me so much with the emotional side of parenting.

However it never felt like enough, and C.J Schneider explains why. The human species isn’t actually designed to live in little boxes all separated from each other. In less affluent societies, and in the past, we lived much more closely with other people. When we became mothers we would have the support of grandmothers and aunties close by. We would be able to divide up the childcare, and the cooking, and the cleaning between us rather than thinking we had to do it all, which is actually impossible.

This is a validating book for anyone who ever struggles with guilt about not being able to do it all. As C.J says, ‘One woman was never meant to replace a whole village.’ Through my work as a Hand in Hand parenting instructor, I’ve listened to many mothers and their struggles. Not a single one of us has it all together, and it’s not our fault.

This beautifully written book has some really good advice on how to build your own village. Some of it is common sense, like arranging babysitting swaps, and asking for help when you need it. But it goes a little deeper than that, giving helpful advice on how to help others but retain your own boundaries, and how to be close to extended family despite the challenges. My favourite chapter was the one titled ‘Develop Your Inner Mystic,’ which is about rising above our imperfect lives, and discovering our true path.

The book is vitally important and a must-read because it helps us out of our isolation. When you read it you realise that it isn’t just you that craves more human connection, and a more supportive society. We all do.

One thing that struck me while reading this is that although it is often mothers who take on this community-building role this isn’t always the case. For example we are friends with a family with two dads. One of the dads travels for work a lot, so the other dad was the stay at home parent when their children were young. He is actually one of the most kind and community-minded parents I know. We don’t have a car, and taxis are very expensive in Switzerland, so he told us that if there was ever a reason we needed a lift somewhere we could call him at any time of day or night.

This is the kind of book that you’ll not only want to read but buy copies for all your mum (or dad!) friends. Then together we can set about rebuilding the village.

You can buy the book here – Mothers of the Village

And if you’d like to know how Hand in Hand parenting helps parents build their village check out The secret weapon every parent needs to know about

This is the first of a new series of book reviews on my blog. I’ll be reviewing books that help make our lives better as parents. If you’ve read anything good recently that’s helped you feel less stressed, and more fulfilled as parent then do get in touch as I love to hear good recommendations!