This is a very concise little book that is written in friendly, conversational prose, as if the author were a good friend talking to you on your couch. As a busy, attachment-minded mother, I liked that it took me only half an hour or so to read, but I found myself spending more time reflecting on the lessons in the book because they were not what I was accustomed to thinking, even with my education and training as a psychotherapist. For example, our purpose-driven, aggressive society is not used to taking the time to speak very consciously and be aware of all the judgments we automatically make in our minds that manifest in our speech. This book is about becoming more aware of how we treat our children (we would seldom treat even a stranger with the everyday brusqueness and condescension we show our children, for example, the author states). I liked the small examples of everyday life that the author takes from his own experiences with his children. He talks about how our requests for things are actually thinly guised demands, and writes, "One of the most unfortuante results of making our objective to get our children to do what we want, rather than having our objective be for all of us to get what we want, is that eventually our children will be hearing a demand in whatever we are asking." The problem here is not honoring people's autonomy, which is an innate human quality that becomes threatened whenever we sense we are being forced or pushed into something. To become more effective, compassionate parents who enjoy our kids rather than resent their "disobedience", the author show us ways to guide them in life while respecting their autonomy and basic human needs to make independent choices. The author wisely distinguishes between age-appropriate choices within their reach -- the toddler, for example, who, when given the opportunity, after being role modeled generosity by his parents, chooses independently to share candy with his siblings -- and those choices that are non-negotiable, such as playing in the middle of a busy street.
Though I haven't yet mentioned it, my favorite part of the book was learning about how just about every painful or uncomfortable emotion we experience is an unmet need. This shifts the thinking away from evaluating children and ourselves in a moralistic sense and moves towards "a language based on needs". Inside the back cover of the book is a helpful table listing emotions we feel when our needs are not being met, and very simple and respectful ways we can ask others to meet our needs without trampling upon theirs.