Cover image for I'm OK, you're my parents : how to overcome guilt, let go of anger, and create a relationship that works
I'm OK, you're my parents : how to overcome guilt, let go of anger, and create a relationship that works
Atkins, Dale V.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Henry Holt, [2004]

Physical Description:
x, 321 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HQ755.86 .A85 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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A guilt-free guide for adults seeking more satisfying relationships with their parents In a recent study, half of all Americans rated their relationship with at least one parent as either "poor" or "terrible," and more than a third felt this way about both parents. As life expectancy continues to rise and the parent-child relationship extends further into adulthood, this problem is becoming more prevalent than ever. Now, psychologist Dale Atkins presents a step-by-step plan for adults trying to come to terms with parents who are only human-beforeit is too late.In I'm OK, You're My Parents , Atkins applies the same intelligent, no-nonsense approach that's made her a frequent guest on top-rated TV shows. She urges a restructuring of the relationships between adults and their aging parents and gives practical, specific advice on how to exorcise the demons of anger and resentment, untangle financial arrangements that cause stress and feelings of powerlessness, set limits on your parents' demands for time and attention, turn a spouse or friends into a powerful resource, overcome your own resistance to change, and discover the redemptive power of humor.This book draws on Atkins's twenty-five years of experience as a relationship expert to present a comprehensive guide to repairing difficult relationships, gaining control, and building a life that you and your parents can live with for years to come.

Author Notes

Dale Atkins is a licensed psychologist, lecturer, and media commentator who appears regularly on the Today show. The author of five books, she has been a frequent contributor to the Ladies' Home Journal, Cosmopolitan, and Parents. She lives in Connecticut and has a practice in New York City

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Atkins, a licensed psychologist, media commentator, and frequent Today Show guest, draws on 25 years of clinical experience to provide helpful advice for adults seeking more satisfying relationships with their parents. In easy-to-read, jargon-free language, she shows how readers can rid themselves of residual childhood anger and resentment, free themselves from destructive financial entanglements with parents, avoid manipulation via health crises, and gently set limits on parental demands for time and attention. To build a loving relationship with parents, the author asks that readers take stock of and alter their own behavior, which, she suggests, will trigger positive changes in parental behavior and will help readers build loving relationships in spite of past experiences. Atkins provides exercises and clear explanations that will help calm many a volatile adult child-parent relationship and prove helpful to many readers. Recommended for libraries with a high number of patrons providing parental care. --Kathleen Hughes Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Psychologist and media commentator Atkins draws on her experiences with clients to offer a prescriptive program to adults who have difficulty dealing with their parents. She describes a variety of common ways adults handle these relationships, such as still craving approval from parents, preferring to have as little contact as possible with them and feeling overwhelmed by the responsibilities of being a caretaker to aging parents. Atkins is extremely helpful when discussing these situations. She uses specific examples to help readers identify. She explains, for instance, that daughters and sons may be sending messages with their body language: "realize that changing your body language with [your parents] can be one of your most effective tools of persuasion, because body language is, for the most part, subliminal. Your parents may not know what's different about you, but they will register this change deep down." Atkins's detailed suggestions of behavior modification are sound, but her suggestion that readers do a fair amount of psychological exploration may turn off some. The book's last section, however, on troubleshooting, brims with valuable advice. It offers advice on what to do when "They Manipulate Me with Health Crises (Real and Imagined)"; "They Make Themselves a Little Too Much at Home"; "They Think I Am a Bad Parent"; "They Manage to Slip an Insult into Every Conversation"; "They Want Too Much of My Time"; and other common complaints. 10 b&w illus. (Apr. 15) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

These self-help manuals for adults seeking to better their family relationships emphasize that readers can change only themselves and their own reactions-not the actions of others. A therapist and licensed clinical social worker, Sichel concentrates on relationships where one family member refuses contact with another, not limiting his discussion to parent-child rifts. Among other strategies, his ten steps lead readers to deal with their own trauma, learn to love themselves, understand family myths and roles, build supportive relationships with others (their "second-chance family"), and try to heal the break if possible. Drawing on stories from Sichel's patients and from personal experience (his father broke with him twice), this book is sure to be read eagerly by those in difficult family situations. For public libraries. Atkins, a licensed therapist and media commentator, addresses parent-adult child relationships from the perspective of the adult child. At times highly specific, her advice directs readers to change their behaviors to improve relations with their parents. She advises letting go of anger and unrealistic expectations and then using such tools as flattery, voice tone, manipulation (called saviorizing), honesty, and withdrawal to change interactions. Readers who desire a more democratic approach-that is, one that takes into account the perspective of parents-should look elsewhere; Atkins, a regular on the Today Show, counsels a specific audience. Also for public libraries.-Kay Brodie, Chesapeake Coll., Wye Mills, MD (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



From I'm OK, You're My Parents: "I'd kill him," said Luanne, "but that would nullify the will, right?" I told her it was a good sign that she was still able to joke about the situation. At least that meant she hadn't given up entirely. Her husband, Kurt, though, sat stone-faced. Luanne was talking about her father, a well-known lawyer. The problem was that he was using his money to manipulate them, and he was doing his usual crackerjack job. Kurt was struggling in his advertising career and Luanne's father seemed to be making the most of that. "He's fantastically rich and he dangles her inheritance in front of us all the time," Kurt sputtered. "Whenever he thinks we aren't seeing him enough or giving him enough time with the grandchildren or when he feels we haven't been sufficiently reverential, he drops little hints about adjusting his will. I try not to react, but I feel so humiliated I can't sleep." What they didn't say until I coaxed it out of them was that they already regularly took money from her father, always let him pick up the tabs at their frequent dinners together (he always chose the place, naturally), and allowed him weekly toy-shopping sprees with the twins. Strange, isn't it, how money, which is supposed to buy freedom, so often winds up purchasing little more than slavery? Excerpted from I'm Ok, You're My Parents: How to Overcome Guilt, Let Go of Anger, and Create a Relationship That Works by Dale Atkins, Nancy Hass All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Sit Down Before You Read Thisp. 1
Part I Past, Tense
1 Making Sure Your Past Doesn't Lastp. 13
2 Leaving It All Behind: A Word about Becoming an Adultp. 27
3 What Have You Done for Me Lately?: A Word about Guiltp. 32
4 The "Gift" That Keeps On Taking--and Taking: A Word about Angerp. 39
Part II Present Imperfect
5 What You Need to Know about Your Parentsp. 53
6 Your Fantasy Parent Doesn't Live Here Anymorep. 63
7 The Relief of Having Reasonable Expectationsp. 71
8 The Urge to Merge--and the Need to Divergep. 75
9 You Say You Want a Revolution. But Are You Your Own Worst Enemy?p. 78
10 Seeking a Second Opinionp. 81
11 Button Up Your Panic Buttonsp. 88
12 Keeping Your Eye on the Prizep. 97
13 Building Fences 101: The Art of Creating Boundariesp. 102
14 Getting Your Spouse in Your Housep. 111
15 Role-Playing with the Punchesp. 140
16 Laughing through the Apocalypsep. 148
17 Making Your Body Say What You Meanp. 152
18 Toning Down Your Tone of Voicep. 157
19 Reaching for the Words That Reach Themp. 162
20 Diversion: Learn to Love the Bait and Switchp. 169
21 Let Them Be Your Savior--or at Least Think They Arep. 172
22 Disarm Them with Honestyp. 177
23 Flatten Them with Flatteryp. 180
Part III Future Shock: Troubleshooting the Hotspotsp. 185
24 They Manipulate Me with Health Crises (Real and Imagined)p. 187
25 They Make Themselves a Little Too Much at Homep. 201
26 They Don't Like My Spouse ... or That I Don't Have Onep. 211
27 They Are Not There in the Way I Need Them to Bep. 224
28 They Want Too Much of My Timep. 232
29 They Are Offended When I Don't Share Personal Details of My Lifep. 238
30 They Put Me in the Middle of Their Marriage (or Divorce) Problemsp. 245
31 They Manage to Slip an Insult into Every Conversationp. 255
32 They Expect Constant Admiration and Attentionp. 263
33 They Embarrass Mep. 270
34 They Use Money to Manipulate Mep. 278
35 They Think I Am a Bad Parentp. 293
Conclusion: A Word about When to Give Upp. 306
Bibliographyp. 308
Acknowledgmentsp. 310
Indexp. 311