"Good Inside" by Becky Kennedy

Review by Borodutch

This is the last book of my 100 books a year challenge (yay!), and I'm so glad it's this book and not Snowcrash (review incoming, too). If you want to be a better parent (all of us want this), read "Good Inside." This translates well into "If you have kids, read this book!"

The main message of "Good Inside" is that we all are good inside by default — and our behavior doesn't dictate who we are. Our behavior only shows what we do in the current situation, given our inputs, and nothing more. I consciously used the word "we" here — both the kids and the parents are good inside by default. This allows us to use phrases like "You're a good kid in a bad situation" and "I'm a good parent in a bad situation." Most of the time (if not all the time) — this is entirely true!

Here are some more points I distilled from reading the book:

  • Punishment and rewards don't work.
  • Children are trying to learn what actions bring people closer and what pushes them away. If you're constantly dismissing their feelings, they'll start thinking that having emotions is bad.
  • Instead, you need to actively acknowledge and talk about the feelings that your children experience.
  • Most of the time, emotions and feelings are chemical reactions in the brain that are difficult to stop or revert when in motion. Calming down takes time.
  • It's never too late to repair broken connections. It's never too late to use the "Good Inside" method.
  • We need to teach children resilience, not happiness. If happiness is the goal, they'll always fail (bad things always happen). Instead, we must talk about bad things and teach the kids to live through them.
  • We must, as parents, first work on our mental health before trying to improve our connections with our kids. Parent receiving therapy is more effective than children receiving therapy.
  • Feelings aren't the problem. Experiencing feelings alone is. We need to avoid this; hence, we need to live through the feelings and acknowledge them with the children.
  • The goal isn't to stop the bad behavior but to teach the children to stop the behaviors independently.
  • We need to empower children to give them agency. Talking through choices can help tremendously.
  • We have our jobs, and children have theirs. We must learn that they are separate. Our job is to keep the children safe and give them ample room to grow. It is children's job to choose, make mistakes, learn, and grow up.
  • Just doing your job is enough. Understand what exactly your job is. If you did everything right and things didn't work out — it happens. This doesn't mean you've failed. This means it might work next time (maybe with some changes in place).
  • Two things must be in place: connection and boundaries. Children have a lot of things that they want. Wanting isn't bad. Understanding boundaries and expressing feelings is good.

Overall, this might as well be the best parenting book I've read this year. "Good Inside" incorporates many of the concepts I've picked up from the other parenting books I've read — but in a well-concentrated matter with plenty of examples.

If you have time to read just one book on parenting — "Good Inside" must be your first choice.