Parents Under the Influence: Words of Wisdom from a Former Bad Mother (Paperback)
Part American and part French, part memoir and part guide, this book offers a fresh, unique, and powerful perspective on the challenges of parenting and how to find a rewarding path forward for parents and children alike.
How should we raise our children? It should be a simple enough question to answer but in fact it is an intimidating and complex one. We often address it by deciding to do either exactly what our parents did or just the opposite. After that we rely on a cocktail of love and instinct, hoping it will be enough to overcome the difficulties ahead.
Far from having perfect free will, however, we are all under the influence. The child still within us confuses, influences, or undermines all our aspirations as parents and prevents us from sticking to the philosophy we initially hoped to follow. These unresolved emotions drive us to reproduce the upbringing we received, including the behaviors that have hurt us the most.
In Parents Under the Influence, Cécile David-Weill draws on her own parenting blunders and successes as well as concrete examples, case studies, and works of fiction to guide readers, helping them heal from the past and become effective, nurturing parents.
About the Author
Cécile David-Weill is French and American. She published her first novel, Crush, under the name of Cécile de la Baume. The Suitors, her third novel, was published by Other Press in 2013. Until recently, David-Weill was a regular contributor to the French news magazine Le Point, with a column entitled “Letters from New York.” She was born in New York, where she currently lives.
“[David-Weill] has some sage advice for parents: Don’t trust your gut…What you really need is David-Weill’s latest book…the French-American writer and mom of three explores the unexpected challenges of parenting and offers hard-won advice on how to make raising successful children easier on parents and kids alike.” —Town & Country
“A worthy read for parents of children of all ages. Easy-to-assimilate lessons on creating a healthy and respectful relationship with your child.” —Kirkus Reviews
“A breezy yet thought-provoking look at family life and unintentional legacies.” —Booklist
“With penetrating psychological insight, Cécile David-Weill traces the inborn and inherited errors of parenthood and explains how a raised consciousness can overcome those dangerous predispositions. Love is the prerequisite to good parenting but not its essence; parenting requires immense care and considerable self-knowledge. David-Weill draws on anecdote and scholarship to create a book that is gentle and often wise, a guide to parenting that is itself full of both affection and skill.” —Andrew Solomon, author of The Noonday Demon and Far from the Tree
“This book is the beginning of a new oeuvre; not child psychology, more parent psychology. It is a beautifully wrought study of how children and parents relate, inspiring for its radical blend of the personally felt and the clinically observed.” —Isaac Mizrahi, designer, cabaret performer, talk-show host, TV celebrity, and author of I.M.
“Cécile David-Weill brings to this insightful, engaging study all the qualities she identifies as crucial to good parenting: compassion, humor, wisdom born of rigorous self-questioning, and an unwavering focus on what our children need the most. Parents Under the Influence is indispensable reading for all parents and caregivers who in the face of difficult family dynamics seek to establish happier, healthier relationships with their children.” —Paul Romer, recipient of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Economics
“In her at once encyclopedic and utterly unpretentious, beautifully written book, Parents Under the Influence, Cécile David-Weill describes how and why we parent, and when and why we are most likely to make mistakes. She is neither academic nor proscriptive as she provides a passionate, deeply felt case for why parenting should be, at its best, a joy. Our one task as parents is to reckon with our own ‘influence’: our parents, our childhoods. As a mother, I am in awe of her ability to explode clichés and illuminate the essence of that most complex thing: raising another human being.” —Lea Carpenter, author of Eleven Days and Red, White, Blue
“It is rare and refreshing to read a self-help book that captures the sophisticated nuance of human folly and the hazards of self-deception that parents face. Cécile David-Weill addresses day-to-day challenges of bringing up children as well as the generational transmission of parental anxieties and conflict with thoughtful reflection and advice. With psychological acumen and a rich descriptive style, she provides an invaluable offering for parents to take stock of what matters.” —Joan Wheelis, MD, Harvard Medical School
Praise for The Suitors:
“A charming peek behind the curtain of French high society as only the ultimate insider can. Cécile David-Weill’s novel is a delicious romp and I loved reading it!” —Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa cookbooks and TV
“Cécile David-Weill’s delightful novel of manners is a witty mix of wisdom and tongue-in-cheek humor touched with a decadent zest of Frenchiness. Irrésistible!” —Tatiana de Rosnay, author of The House I Loved, A Secret Kept, and Sarah’s Key
“If you’ve ever wondered what Downton Abbey would be like if it were set in the South of France during our current century, then pick up this smart novel de charme immediately…The intimate, fascinating detail with which Cécile David-Weill describes this society—complete with seating charts and chauffer pick-up schedules—is what elevates this book from a mere romp through old-money families of France into an intelligent, engaging study of a society that seems as if it should be extinct by now.” —Oprah.com
“The Suitors sets out to be a farce and a frolic, but throughout there is an undertone of nostalgia and wistfulness for a disappearing way of life.” —Wall Street Journal
“Deceptively charming and delightful, this novel by the French American David-Weill (Crush) portrays class issues and changing mores with the kind of intelligent taste that would make the Ettinguers proud.” —Library Journal