Dr. Hall's book is an excellent resource for families in crisis and for those just moving through a typical season of family life. Although "Solving Family Conflicts" is part of the subtitle, conflict resolution is just part of the rich information this book shares. It communicates tips, examples, strategies, explanations, and philosophies that any parents-on the brink or experiencing calm-can use.
As the mother of a 7-year-old daughter, I found the book highly practical. It offers much that can be applied today. For example, each chapter-with titles such as "The Need for Friends," "How to Recognize Your Ghosts," and "Expecting Excellence and Appreciating What You Get"-includes a section of suggestions for change. These suggestions are sensible; they're also sensitive to what parents can reasonably accomplish.
As a parent trying to do my best on many fronts, I also found the book inspiring and loving. Unlike many "parenting" books that focus on our children, this book focuses on parents and the complex, important roles they play in their families and in society. On each page, a compassionate, gentle voice comes through. A child psychiatrist, Dr. Hall gives vivid, often amusing examples from both his case files and his own experience as a parent.
Another outstanding aspect of the book is its discussion, in terms that lay readers can understand, of psychiatric problems that may affect families. It includes explanations of mental disorders such as depression and panic disorders, along with guidance on how to seek and evaluate professional help. Appendices offer additional information on mental health resources, ways of coping with abuse, and basic training in parenting skills.
The "Eight Steps to Solving Family Conflicts" of the book's subtitle are steps any family could benefit from taking. They begin with "Accept Responsibility to Lead Your Family's Journey to Health" and end with "Refuse to Give Up." For me, currently experiencing relative calm in my family, the most valuable step was "Create the Family Culture You Want"-with lots of strategies in sections called "Treasuring Your Child" and "Sharing Your Stories, Sharing Yourself." This step is one I can take now to minimize the inevitable storms ahead.
I highly recommend this practical, encouraging book to parents and the family-counseling professionals who serve them.