Review: Coping with Critical, Demanding and Dysfunctional Parents by David M. Allen

Quick review for a quick read. “Coping with Critical, Demanding, and Dysfunctional Parents” was an interesting read that was equal parts an examination of relationships, interpersonal and intrapersonal conflicts, psychological examinations of behaviors, and self-help guide. The book examines the reasons why adult children can have toxic interactions and relationships with parental figures in their lives. From that point, it describes 17 different strategies that one could use to diffuse the situation, maintain healthy boundaries and heal respectively from the harm caused by these caustic interactions. The book has thorough research behind it and provides ample citations into the behaviorial, social, and cultural reasons why parental figures can adopt blaming, unrealistic demands, among other harmful behaviors towards their children over the course of their life and how factors in their upbringing and attitudes can contribute to that.

By far, I think the background information was what I got the most use from this book. Yet when it came to the actual approaches to use, some of it was useful (such as the real life stories and applications) but others were a bit more simplified that I would’ve cared for. Granted, this book cites more than a few times that it isn’t designed for parents with severe mental disorders or abusive tendencies without the backing of a professional. Yet, while the advice on approach is practical, empathetic, and useful, it may only be useful up to a certain point when it comes to interactions like this. Nonetheless, for someone who has no idea where to start, it’s a good point to begin an approach to seeing the angles of how to break the cycle of the toxic relationship, set boundaries and dig a bit in order to help showcase the behaviors for what they are. Plus give the person on the blunt end of the caustic behaviors some relief and steps to heal. I thought it was well worth the read and a good supplement, though I think for specific personality, behavioral, and mental disorders, it may be best to supplement this text with other resources.

Overall score: 3.5/5 stars.

Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher.


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