"Raising Good Humans" by Hunter Clarke-Fields

Review by Borodutch

"Raising Good Humans" is a short yet very content-rich book. The author teaches us how to be better parents through mindfulness of ourselves and understanding towards our children (especially when they are very young). The main message of the book is "chill out." Even the best parents in the world lose it from time to time. The question isn't about whether you'll have these moments or not — but what you do next. Hunter then lays out golden nuggets of parenting wisdom without any warnings.

  • When you're in control of your emotions and act mindfully, your kids notice it and mimic your confidence; it's a positive reinforcement loop. The better you're at parenting, the easier it becomes.
  • One of the most important things is ensuring your kids trust you. Trust is built on understanding and genuineness, not on threats and authority. Act as if you're talking to a friend of yours — or even better, to the child of your friend.
  • You can't parent well if you can't forgive yourselves and constantly critically self-talk. You will make mistakes, and it is okay. Show your kids that you aren't ideal and that you try to make yourselves better.
  • Be the person you want your children to become. If you tell them not to do something and then proceed to do precisely that, they notice and remember the hypocrisy.
  • Mindfulness techniques (meditation, breathing, pausing, self-reflection, etc.) drastically improve your parenting skills and allow you to remember the good advice at the times when it leaves you — in crises when your lizard brain takes over.
  • One must try not to be reactive but use calming techniques to act rationally and be understanding, first and foremost.
  • Children cry — there is no way to prevent this. The best way to help the crying child (especially during tantrums) is to acknowledge their feelings, make sure they are safe, and let them get the feelings out. You can't force the tantrums to stop, but you can comfort and talk to your children afterward.
  • Children crave hugs. In fact, all of us crave hugs. Never skim on hugs — give as many as possible and take as many as possible.
  • Don't try to do it all. That long to-do list? It's okay to let some things slide — you can't physically make time for all of it. The most important thing is to make sure your family is safe and sound, both physically and mentally. If you were on your deathbed, what would you care more about — the tasks from the to-do lists or the wellbeing of your family?
  • Don't suppress anger and other powerful emotions. Acknowledge them and talk through them. Often, saying things out loud makes negative feelings go away.
  • Use mirror talking with children to understand why they are upset or don't want to do something. Repeat what they say back to them in a modified manner (non-violent communication much?)
  • Clearly state your own needs. Sometimes, the commands we give children aren't about them but us. It might not be your kid who needs to go to sleep right now, but you're the one who's tired and needs to go to bed. Children understand your stated needs more easily than commands.
  • Punishments don't work on so many levels. Allowing kids to do everything they want also doesn't work. Both teach kids the wrong lessons. Instead, work through the issue together and uncover what's happening in your children's heads.
  • Set up healthy routines that inject a good dose of positivity and confidence every day so that, overall, you skew the scales towards mindfulness and healthy family dynamics.

Unfortunately, it is impossible to squeeze all the good things from the book into a summary. I strongly suggest all the parents pick up "Raising Good Humans" as it is for sure making the list of the top books I've read in 2023. Hunter explores many different situations and concepts, and almost everything sounds life-saving.