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Susie Garlick
The Parenting Backpack

Adult; Other Nonfiction; (Publish)

If you want to raise children who are confident, secure, responsible, and able to navigate the challenges of today’s world, you’ll want to master the tools presented in The Parenting Backpack. During her years of working with families while raising one of her own, Susie Garlick has identified surefire strategies that bring order and logic to parenting. Drawing on research and personal experience, she brings a common-sense approach that empowers parents to confidently guide their children through all stages of growth.


The Parenting Backpack differs from other parenting books in that it first focuses on parental reaction to children’s behaviors and asks the reader to identify the sources of those reactions, which are often a result of their own upbringing. Susie Garlick provides strategies to help parents change their reactions in a way that benefits their child’s social and emotional growth. When we change our reactions, we change everything. 



•      Identify your own parenting style

•      Gain insight into the ways parental reaction affects children’s behavior 

•      Reduce your anxiety, anger and frustration

•      Ease daily tensions and deliver guidance in a nurturing way

•      Connect with your child while setting clear and consistent limits

•      Bypass power struggles and build trust

The Parenting Backpack is an essential resource for parents. This book reminds us that parenting is not about raising perfect children. Rather, it is about how we react to our imperfect ones in ways that help our children become respectful, responsible, confident, secure, high-achieving, and emotionally healthy human beings.

“The more we understand about ourselves, the more we can help our children,” Garlick declares early in this clear-eyed, parent-focused guide, her follow up to DiddleDots: Tips to Ease the Madness of Parenting. She argues that it’s impossible to become the perfect parent raising the perfect kids, and instead advises readers to face and deal with their mistakes and failings—and to learn how to react to imperfection. To that end, she urges parents to understand what rocks (or “fears and insecurities” from their own parents, life experiences, genes, and society) they’re carrying in their “backpacks,” as well as how those rocks affect their parenting–and what they’re putting into their own kids’ metaphorical backpacks.

“We all have rocks,” she notes, before offering welcome practical advice about how to turn them into strengths. Garlick guides readers through this idea with compelling stories from her personal and professional experience as a mental health counselor, questions for contemplation and self-investigation, and reports on established research: she digs into alarming studies that suggest children today are often more safe than before but more likely to struggle emotionally. She urges readers to know themselves well, to practice apologies and forgiveness, and to accept that their brains, habits, and responses are malleable.

Garlick’s original exercises include prompts for readers to examine the rocks they’re carrying, identifying the source (mother, father, life itself) and boiling each stone down to its essence: FEAR. SHAME. WORRY. Identifying them, in Garlick’s estimation, is the hardest part. She demonstrates techniques for dealing with their weight, demonstrating the cycles connecting thought, feeling, and behavior, and considers approaches to handling anger, the temptation to try to fix everything in a child’s life, and the urgency of occasional adult time outs. The book’s second half, centers on parenting techniques, such as teaching problem solving, creating a safety net, and how establishing boundaries is like giving a child a compass. Encouraging, pragmatic, and always clear and honest, The Parenting Backpack should lighten parents’ load.

Takeaway: This parenting guide showcases how knowing yourself will better prepare you for being there for kids.

Great for fans of: Hunter Clarke-Fields’s Raising Good Humans, Ruby Usman’s Self-Care for Parents.

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: A-
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A