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on 9 July 2010
I actually purchased this book out of curiousity after I was told it was a book for me by a mum who was observing me being lovey dovey with my little man. Basically, the information the writer is trying to put across is why we need to be so loving and affectionate with our babies. A little on the technical side at times but overall it reiterates what I (and every sensible parent) should already know. I am a firm believer that if your child cries it is for a reason and not just a matter of getting his/her own way. I totally disagree with the whole leave them to cry it out belief that my mum says didn't do me any harm (sure it didn't!). Children need to be loved but more importantly they need to be shown that they are loved, even when they mess up. What we do with our babies sets the foundation of what they become when they are older.
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on 13 February 2006
Before examining the book's content I believe it is important to state that in my opinion this book would be a far easier read for those with some background knowledge of John Bowlby's attachment theory or at least prior reading on the subject of parent-child relationships.

Obviously I am speaking from my own level of intelligence, (not too intelligent but an avid reader) I should imagine that there are many parents and lay people who would enjoy reading this book without the above prerequisites.

For maybe the first third of the book I found it quite heavy going because the focus is upon the development of the child's brain in relation to certain types of parenting.

Therefore, there is a lot of exploration into the structure of the brain and how certain parts such as the Hypocampus and Hypothalamus work in conjunction with other parts such as neurotransmitters like serotonin and cortisol. Initially the book seemed quite cold and technical.

Moving on, the book goes on to provide strong evidence for the work of John Bowlby and Attachment theory, illustrating how neglectful, emotionally ambivalent and emotionally distant parenting styles create brain structures and chemical imbalances that leave children prone to rage, aggression, hyper tension, violence, depression and addiction in adulthood.

At times I found the book disturbing when considering how many children are disadvantaged in this way, especially considering the problems they face in later life.

On the other hand this book is of huge importance to the lay person, professionals, policy makers and most particularly anyone who has or plans to have children.

The prominent message here is that a great many if not all of our social ills, war, violence, addiction, crime and murder (to mention but a few) are the consequences of unresponsive and abusive parenting.

Undoubtedly many parents may feel defensive reading this book, but I would defy anyone to offer a scientifically sound counter argument to the evidence presented within it. Also it is worth noting that the main thrust of the book is not to establish blame, but to throw light on what was previously unknown so that we may eradicate these needlessly destructive patterns.

The bottom line is that this book has huge potential to effect massive social change. In seeing how these maladaptive attachment and parenting styles lead to first personal problems and then serious social ones, we have the solution to making changes for the future of our children and theirs in turn.

Overall this book is a humanistic subject approached from a scientific perspective. Make no mistake this book is one of the most important I have and ever will read. Without a doubt it will also be the same for anyone reading the book.

Finally, in addition to being highly informative, it is also optimistic in pointing out that change is not impossible, but prevention is the key to a better society and a better world.
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on 13 February 2006
I am the director of a foundation that works in Romanian orphanages and children's hospitals. For years we have been perceived as amateurs by the therapists because we focus on providing the children with individual attention and affection. It is such a HUGE relief to find a book that makes our work worthwhile. The damage that Dr Gerhardt describes is seen 100 times over in children who have not just been disregarded, but have been truly abandoned: left to themselves for month after month with only staff workers to change and feed them. Babies that stop crying because no one responds to their desperation are horribly broken. The attitude that they will grow out of it is so misguided and hurtful. I would LOVE to have the book available in Romanian. It could have a profound effect if people understood what is happening when they think that taking care of the baby's physical needs is enough.
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on 28 October 2005
This book is amazing, the science behind it is excellently explained and based on real babies.
This book shows us how our parenting has an incredible effect on our child's future health and happiness. Everyone should read this book before they have a baby.
In a nutshell it explains how babies need to be held, cuddled and comforted when they're upset, and that the more attention and physical contact they receive the happier they will grow up to be.
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on 10 August 2012
Most of the reviewers seem to have read this from the point of view of a parent - and the message could be pretty scary for parents. Although I'm a parent I read this from the point of view of being an (old) child - and found it very helpful as a way of helping to understand myself, especially long standing patterns of behaviour. I appreciate that some of the science is speculative and I approach it from the point of view of an aid to thinking rather than a revelation of 'truth' - which is how books should be approached. Nevertheless I think it is very important and if it makes you uncomfortable you have to think about why it does. Especially recommend it for anyone doing/undergoing counselling/therapy.
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on 15 May 2010
Great exploration into areas of developmental, social, personality and neuropsychology theory and practice. Mines of references from established research and theory to latest findings with good insight and focus on summarising crucial details. I'm planning to use it as one of my sources for my next year's dissertation.
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on 27 September 2005
This book is essential reading for all parents and anyone who works with small children. It's particularly refreshing to read a parenting book that can back up its claims with real research findings, and which has enough respect for the reader's intelligence to allow you to draw your own conclusions on how you treat your child in the light of it, rather than the dumbed-down, unsupported 'rules' too many other books offer. We all know our children flourish with love and support - thank god for an author who is brave enough to say so and show us the evidence!
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on 15 June 2007
This book tells you that how you parent really does influence your child's development. That your parenting style actually affects how your baby's brain develops.

The first half is more technical, but still readable. The second half gets into the consequences of early-years parenting.

It will make you think about your own parenting decisions, that's for sure!
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on 9 June 2011
This book was recommended to me as a way to help understand some of things going on in my own life, and boy, what a stunning revalation. The style is a good mix of science written in a very approachable way, and social comment written in a strong observational style. This combination works very well together to explore the consequences of parenting styles on the way children turn out in later life. I particularly liked the way that the author explains the way that apparently benign environments can actually cause later difficulties. There's no mumbo jumbo either - its all there in the neuroscience, explained as the effect an upbringing has on the way the early brain develops. It has been extremely helpful to me in understanding why I think and feel and act in the way that I do. Recommended not just for parents, but for everyone. You'll never see life the same way again.
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on 12 December 2008
I bought this book on a whim without really knowing in which context it was written, whilst I was surprised, I was not dissapointed.

This is not a wishy washy parents handbook with vague advice, it is a very thorough study into the development of babies based on the care given. It is no easy read, but certainly a worthwhile one.

I must add, that if you are reading it following the birth or impending birth of a second, third or fourth (and so on) child then prepare yourself for an almighty guilt trip! I was certainly never what a social worker might call a Neglectful Mother, but I had my children during a highly emotional and difficult time of my life, reading this book I saw the error of some of my previous ways and the discovery of how they may affect your child is quite a profound wake up call.

Every new parent should read this book!
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