The absence of emotional illness does not actually mean emotional health just as the absence of disease does not actually mean the presence of health. Perhaps I am not the intended audience for this book which is why I didn't enjoy it. Given all the good reviews on Amazon, I'm glad that there are people who have benefited from the book.
Having said that, here were some of the issues I had with the book:
Newmark appears to be attempting to make amends for his own childrearing mistakes.
Much of the actual good advice in the book seems to be geared toward emotionally unhealthy/abusive adults who are raising children.
If you have common sense and are reflective, then this book may be too elementary for you.
What really bothered me about the book was the anecdotes Newmark uses -- they don't sound real. For example on page 30-31, Newmark talks about a family meeting in which 11 year old Robert tells his mother that she is "being 'miscellaneoused' to death." I highly doubt that those words actually came from a real 11 year old boy. In another anecdote on page 55, a mother is impatiently trying to change the diaper of her 4-month-old. Her father says nothing but decides to call her on the phone later on and "tactfully" critiqued her and made a suggestion on how to handle the baby so that there was less fussing. Supposedly the very next day, mom calls her dad to thank him for his advice. First of all, most people don't take criticism very well no matter how tactful it is; so I have a hard time believing someone so insensitive to their baby today would be calling her father to thank him the very next day. Second, I find it hard to believe that someone who had been so insensitive to her baby's need for gentleness during diaper changing time would be able to completely change the habit in one day. It just seemed far-fetched.
The advice is too general to be helpful, and when there are specifics, it seems inappropriate. For example, on page 59, Newmark remarks that "including the child in decision-making enhances her sense of importance." This is true, but in this context, the child had been having sleepovers with an older man (her boyfriend). Children should be included in making certain decisions as appropriate, and I believed in this case it was inappropriate for the child to be allowed to make this decision.
There are many examples of teenagers and older children in the book behaving disrespectfully, and Newmark's advice is to "give the child the benefit of the doubt," "let them make decisions," etc. In many of these scenarios, if the child has gotten to that age and is behaving that way, it's an indication of earlier parenting mistakes which means that the child hasn't shown the maturity to be making decisions or given the benefit of the doubt.
In another example, a child was caught shoplifting by his mother. Rather than actually disciplining him, she made him give the toy back and apologize. This doesn't actually teach the child that stealing is wrong nor does it teach the child that the consequence was negative. The child ended up exactly where he started -- without the toy; and forcing a child to apologize does not actually mean that he is sorry for what he did. I have students who plagiarize papers and the consequence to plagiarism is an F on the assignment. Many of my students seem to think that the "punishment" for plagiarizing should be that they have to write the paper -- which is exactly what they should have done in the first place.
A much better book with good practical advice are the books in the Love and Logic Magic series. Here they give real, practical advice for how to handle misbehaviors from children in a way that actually teaches them consequences, good decision making and without compromising their emotional health.
I also like the work of Gordon Neufield and Gabor Mate who wrote "Hold On To Your Kids"