Raising the Perfect Child Through Guilt and Manipulation by Elizabeth Beckwith


My siblings should all read this. It explains a lot about how my parents raised us. Not that we turned out perfect, but then neither did Elizabeth Beckwith, presumably. The point is, I’m convinced that one of my sisters (or possibly one of my cousins – many of my aunts and uncles practiced this parenting technique, as well) actually wrote this book and changed some names to avoid embarrassing my parents…or giving them credit (blame?).

The book isn’t fabulous – it’s kind of a one-note joke, and works best if you break it up and read a chapter every now and then, rather than gulp it all down at once. But it’s surely worth reading just for this gem of advice, which I am SURE she stole directly from my parents:

Speak loudly and disparagingly of people who do bad things. For example: “Can you believe how fast that guy is driving through the parking lot? What a moron! That’s how people die!” (It’s always good to sprinkle the fear of death into these lessons whenever possible.)

Her whole concept of creating an us vs. them mentality in your children, and then constantly pointing out what’s wrong with all of the “them”s reminded me so much of my own parents that I laughed out loud more than once. My parents were always big on pointing out people that they disapproved of and telling us in no uncertain terms that we didn’t want to be like THOSE people, did we? Yes, if I didn’t know all of my sibs personally, I’d think this woman grew up with us. All in all, a fun read, even if you just skim the highlights.

Not exactly a read-alike, but in a similar vein: The Three-Martini Playdate: A Practical Guide to Happy Parenting by Christie Mellor.


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