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Excerpt: Unlocking Parental Intelligence

Unlocking Parental Intelligence


During the time when I started reading Unlocking Parental Intelligence, my thirteen-year-old son began shutting himself in his room, and if/when he came out, he never let go of his grip on his phone. Family dinners were tense, as we had to coax him out of his bedroom and insist on “no phone at the table.” This went on for months, and all the while, I told myself he was “just being a teen.” But I knew it was more than that. I felt pressured; I could not sleep. In the wee hours, I asked myself as I had a thousand times before, Why was my son doing these things?

Then I read Unlocking Parental Intelligence, in which Dr. Hollman writes, “All parents wonder why their children do the things they do.” Aha! I was not alone. But more than that, Dr. Hollman, with kindness and candor, explained what I could do to find out the answer to that question. She had an actionable, five-step plan that would facilitate conversation with my son.

I put Dr. Hollman’s plan into practice. I self-reflected, and I searched for the meaning behind my son’s behavior. I considered his verbal and nonverbal clues and took into account my own motivations. Using this book as a blueprint, I developed a way in which to be more empathic with my son. And then I spoke to him.

My assumptions about his underlying behavior were correct—something else was wrong; there was a bigger reason why he was closing himself off in his room and texting tirelessly. Unbeknownst to me, he had been asked out by a girl, had failed a math test, and was worried about his forthcoming cello recital and travel baseball tryouts. (Since he was a dedicated math student, cellist, and baseball player, I hadn’t anticipated his anxiety, nor had I any idea there might be a girl in the picture since my older son did not date until he was sixteen). As a result of our discussions, I stopped doubting my intuition and instead was lifted and empowered by Dr. Hollman’s rhetorical question: Who else knows a child as well as a parent does?

My son and I benefited from Dr. Hollman’s intelligent approach—from her patience (you can do the steps in any order; you can go back and try again) and her perspective (one of open-mindedness). In the end, our relationship has improved, and we have a new way to communicate.

Written in a clear narrative format, Dr. Hollman explains the power of understanding ourselves and our pasts in order to understand our assumptions, our reactions, and most of all, our children. As I read the compelling personal stories gleaned from her thirty years as a psychoanalyst and psychotherapist, I fell into a place where I had never been as a parent—a place where I saw the challenges I was having with my son as an opportunity, a moment of ripe possibility to grow closer to my son. This transformation was a clarification as well as a source of joy—and relief.

As an editor of Brain, Child Magazine, I have read hundreds of articles and dozens of books about parenting. As my own five children have grown, I have amassed a huge collection of such books; many have great advice, but Unlocking Parental Intelligence combines research, experience, and case studies into actionable steps that will make a difference for the conscientious parent. Further, parents who use Parental Intelligence will affect future generations of children who become parents. The five steps of Parental Intelligence become a way of life for families. Parental Intelligence gives children who want to be leaders the foundation they need to relate to a broad spectrum of people around the world because they have a grounding in relating and communicating with others that began early in their upbringing and is now a part of who they are. No other parenting book offers such wisdom for so many generations to come.

With this wonderful book, after eighteen years of mothering, I learned to trust my instincts, find meaning in my son’s behavior, and, perhaps most importantly, better understand my own actions, principles, and parenting philosophy. Additionally, my son now has the opportunity, when he becomes an adult and even a parent, to continue to carry out the philosophy of Parental Intelligence by knowing how to look for meaning behind people’s actions and by finding ways to communicate effectively with his own voice.


Marcelle Soviero


Brain, Child: The Magazine for Thinking Parents


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