FTC disclosure: This post contains Amazon Affiliate Links. I was provided a review copy of this book–at my request–but I was in no way compensated for this interview or the giveaway.
A few weeks ago I stumbled upon an incredible, brand new parenting book. It’s written by Mantu Joshi and it’s called The Resilient Parent: Everyday Wisdom for Life with Your Exceptional Child.
Joshi brings to this work his experience as the parent of special needs children. He also brings to it his phenomenal writing skills and profound insights into the human heart and soul.
I’ve read a lot of parenting books over the years, for myself and for work/research. This one left me breathless in parts. It is as much a manual as a meditation or prayer. Whether or not you have special needs, high needs, gifted/2E kids is irrelevant. I think every parent needs this book.
This week I’m giving away a copy of the book thanks to DRT Press. The giveaway details are at the bottom of this post.
First, however, I want you to get to know Joshi a little bit–and sample his wisdom through this interview.
RW&G: One of my favorite sayings is a Chinese proverb: “Keep a green tree in your heart and perhaps a singing bird will come.” I kept thinking of that proverb while reading your book. Can you talk about why all parents might want to nurture resilience and hopefulness within their hearts?
MJ: Your sense of resilience and hopefulness is crucial not only for your own happiness, but for the emotional regulation of the whole family. The surprise is that resilience comes not in overcoming your fears or failures, but in accepting the currently reality and moving toward peaceful living. The proverb you share reminds us that nothing can be forced into wholeness, only invited through deep acceptance.
RW&G: Could you talk about how this book came to be, and why you opted to present it in this conversational format? How do you think the book is best approached?
MJ: To find my own grounding with the kids’ challenges, I gave myself two hours a week to ponder through writing what I had learned from family systems theory, interfaith chaplaincy training, and personal reflections during the week (think pink Post-It notes). The book then just naturally emerged.
The conversational format was inspired by a short time I met with other parents with kids with special needs at a local Portlandia-style coffee shop. I wanted the book to feel full of the same humor and kinship love we had experienced. I also planned for the essays to be able to be read in short bursts if necessary during a crisis, or savored as a whole for personal reflection.
RW&G: Many of the parents with whom I work have children who are gifted and/or “twice exceptional” (e.g., having a physical, emotional, psychological or learning disability in addition to a way of thinking that puts them, at times or all the time, uncomfortable “outside the norm”). They often express a kinship with parents of special needs kids because of the “outsider” status. They also tend to have children who experience cruelty–in word and/or deed–by other children or adults in the form of bullying, relational aggression, and social exclusion. Can you talk about how a parent finds reserves of resilience when faced when their children experience that sort of encounter?
MJ: In eastern cultures, such as in Korea, there is language we lack in English for the more complex mix of feelings that come with being a victim. The concept of “han” demonstrates the feelings of being both victimized and shamed.
I think understanding that a child experiences shame and pain at the same time may help the parent empathize with her child, and naming the shame may help give the child permission to release it, thus building a pattern for resilience for the whole family. It is often not the exclusion or even the feeling of powerlessness that most hurts a child; it’s the shame that festers unnamed and hidden.
RW&G: What about the “gift” of resilience–how do we nurture that in our own children? Is it simply a matter of modeling the behavior or is there something more we can do?
MJ: I find sharing stories of how I learned from my own mistakes is a wonderful tool for nurturing resilience in someone else. I remember as a child breaking my dad’s windshield with a rock by accident right after he had reminded me never to throw stones. I shared the mistake one day after my child broke something in a similar way. Talking about how I processed the mistake really helped my overwhelmed child build her own resilience, and at the same time protected her fragile self-esteem.
RW&G: What do you hope that readers learn from reading the text? What’s the greatest takeaway you hope they grasp?
MJ: The picture of the penguin on the cover is a great metaphor for understanding the core of resilience as parents. When you have an Antarctic life with seemingly unlimited stressors and a hard family dynamic, you may believe that you are trapped and can no longer fly. On the surface that may certainly be true. Yet, if you go deeper and dive into mindful ways of engaging your daily life, you can learn from the resilience of penguins who have learned to truly fly . . . under water.
Thank you, Mantu. Your book is such a gift to the world. It was an honor to read it and share it with my readers.
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This giveaway is open only to continental U.S. residents only. The winner will be selected at random from comments left on this post prior to 5PM CT on Friday, February 28, 2014.
If you wish to purchase the book–and I recommend it highly without reservations to any parent, then you will find it in the Amazon store ( Print version | Kindle version ) of my other blog, HowtoWorkandHomeschool.com.