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Michelle Kenney
In UnPunished: How to Let Go of Punishments and Find Your Parenting Peace, Michelle Kenney combines personal stories and experiences with clear strategies and tips for adopting a peaceful approach to parenting. After years of consequences, bribes and star charts, Michelle decided enough was enough. Her new way of parenting, which she shares in UnPunished, reshaped her relationship with her two young daughters and she credits it with changing her life. Part memoir, part self-help and part parenting guidebook, UnPunished encourages all readers to reflect on and enhance their parenting techniques. Throughout the book, readers find ways to manage unique challenges, such as sibling rivalry, tantrums big feelings and rebellious teens. With tools for understanding how and why one parents the way do, UnPunished is as much a guide to healing childhood traumas about how one might have been parented themselves, as it is a rich resource of tactics for implementing a more effective and rewarding parenting approach.
Parenting coach Kenney tries to answer the long-standing question “What is a perfect parent?” in this accessible debut. Drawing from client anecdotes and her own experience raising two daughters, Kenney reinforces the ideal of "connective parenting" as opposed to a more traditional style, candidly sharing her struggles with mom shame, taking on the myth of “good” versus “bad” children, and divulging temper tantrum scenes from her own life that will comfort any parent who’s ever struggled with feeling “bad because I had a child who hit and kicked me, had tantrums, and screamed in public.”

The idea of connective parenting forms the foundation throughout this helpful, illuminating guide, and Kenney contends that it’s a more peaceful and practical approach for both parents and children. Using first hand examples from her own life, Kenney argues against punishing or attempting to control a child; instead, she recommends allowing children to express themselves and teaches parents how to respond compassionately. Kenney’s parenting style encourages parents to relieve the pressure of “seeking perfection” for both themselves and their children, a skill that comes with intense self-reflection, and her easy-to-use advice covers creative ways to connect with teens, convenient self-care tips, how to diffuse tense situations, and more.

The emphasis is on long-term change, and Kenney is upfront about the myth of a quick fix (there is no “magic system of parenting that will suddenly bring everything into balance,” she writes). Her straightforward guidance will empower parents to remove labels and reinforce authenticity, allowing readers to have fun in the process (Kenney even offers creative steps to injecting play into stressful interactions, a method she terms “PlayListen”). This is a vital resource for parents, teachers, or any adults who regularly interact with children. In Kenney’s own words, “Peaceful parenting is a real thing. It’s just waiting for you to take the first step.”

Takeaway: This wise, illuminating parenting guide emphasizes connection over control.

Great for fans of: Destini Ann Davis’s Very Intentional Parenting, Kelly Rippon’s Parent Up.

Production grades
Cover: B
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A