Laurie Hollman, Ph.D. is a psychoanalyst with a recent book, Unlocking Parental Intelligence: Finding Meaning in Your Child’s Behavior. After three decades of practicing psychotherapy with parents and their children of all ages, Dr. Hollman has finally put in writing her amazing approach to child rearing.
Publishers Weekly said of the book, “This is a well-written, easy-to-understand book that offers parents useful tools for reflecting on their relationships to their children.”
A psychoanalyst with specialized clinical training in infant-parent, child, adolescent, and adult psychotherapy, Hollman has been on the faculties of New York University and the Society for Psychoanalytic Training and Research, among others. Her writing on parenting has appeared in the Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, The International Journal of Infant Observation, The Inner World of the Mother, Newsday’s Parents & Children Magazine, Long Island Parent, and her popular column, “Parental Intelligence,” at Moms Magazine. She also blogs for Huffington Post. She and her husband are the proud parents of two spirited, loving adult sons.
1. What inspired you to start writing Unlocking Parental Intelligence?
It’s hard to write in the past tense about being “inspired” because even though the book is finished and published, I continue to be inspired to write about unlocking Parental Intelligence. My inspiration has had and continues to have three ongoing sources for which I am grateful—the children and parents I treat in my clinical practice, my children, and my grandchildren.
Furthermore, I’m fortunate to be able to continue to write about parenting and Parental Intelligence for Huffington Post, so I can keep on reaching more and more parents and receive their feedback and questions. I’m still inspired!
As my three decades of psychoanalytic practice and research progressed during the years of my clinical work, I incorporated the voices of so many mothers and fathers who came to me at different stages in their parenting careers. They were questioning what to do to salvage their parent-child relationships, asking how to put their children back on a reasonable course, and wondering how to find meaning in their family life. Feeling thankful to those parents for telling me how unlocking their Parental Intelligence benefited their families, I was compelled to narrow Parental Intelligence into five accessible steps for others to read and grow from.
My children were raised with the precepts of Parental Intelligence. It was natural for me to want to understand their minds—their thoughts, feelings, intentions, and imaginings. It brought me close to them as they grew. Early on we began to learn from each other as I tried to guide them to think for themselves about making good judgments and choices. It’s amazing how wonderful it is to share trust and love with your children.
I hadn’t coined the term Parental Intelligence when I was a young mother, but I was practicing it nonetheless. Today I have the good fortune to have two empathic, industrious sons with wonderful senses of humor who enjoy learning, creating, and relating well with others in their own individual ways. They have been and surely are an inspiration for my writing.
At the conclusion to my acknowledgments for the book I also thank the future generation who inspire me. I write:
“I can’t conclude without thanking the future generation: my loving grandsons Zander, age seven, and Eddie, age four. Hearing their remarkable use of language at such young ages and watching their vibrant youthfulness has always inspired me to keep on writing. When they confide in me their personal thoughts and wishes, I am reminded of the essence of Parental Intelligence; the close bonds it brings between parent and child, grandparent and grandchild.”
2. What is the most important thing that you have learned in your writing experience, so far?
Before I wrote for Moms Magazine and Huff Post and my book, I had written scholarly articles for international psychoanalytic journals. My new writing became much more conversational for the general parenting public. I’ve learned to write more the way I speak in everyday life rather than in psychoanalytic terms. I enjoy this kind of writing very much. Then I learned to write short stories for the part of my book that describes parents in action applying Parental Intelligence in their lives with their kids. This was also a new genre for me which I thoroughly enjoy. Now both audiences, parents and professionals who work with children and teach others to do so can benefit from my approach to parenting.
3. Tell us about your publisher.
I spent a great deal of time deciding on a publisher and I chose Familius in California because they are family oriented and share my values about parenting. The biggest plus that I discovered about this publishing house is that they include the author a great deal in the decision-making from editing to choosing a book cover to marketing. I’ve learned a great deal about the publishing process this way and it’s been most illuminating.
4. Do you have any secret tips for writers on getting a book published?
It’s very important to really do your homework and provide evidence to publishers that you are an expert on your subject matter. I did that with all the parenting articles I had written and continued to write while looking for a publisher. I also had my book edited by a prominent developmental editor prior to being sent to the publisher, so they knew it was vetted by a seasoned writer/editor in addition to myself. Further, I made sure to have a multitude of international endorsers read the book to attest to its expertise and veracity as a parenting model. All this took a great deal of time but it was worth the effort. I met a lot of fascinating people who supported me throughout the process. I discovered how generous writers and psychoanalysts were in supporting my book and believing in me.
5. Where did you get your information and ideas for your book?
Three decades of working as a psychoanalyst and years of mothering gave me the insight needed to formulate the ideas in this book, particularly the five steps to unlocking Parental Intelligence. My clinical training with infants, children, adolescents and adults covering the life span gave me the experience to create a parenting approach that transforms a family’s way of life. The core concept in the subtitle, Finding Meaning in Your Child’s Behavior, came from my psychoanalytic training. In my practice and in the book I am training parents to become “meaning-makers” learning how to understand the intentions, desires, and motivations that are being communicated through behavior.
Behavior is sending messages. The job of the parent is to decipher the messages and with the child’s help collaborate to solve the overarching problems. Parents learn how to understand the underlying determinants to their child’s behavior, how to ‘read’ nonverbal as well as verbal communication, and how to create an open dialogue.
6. Do you have any suggestions for new writers?
It is essential to become an avid reader who learns to love language. I love words! Writers need to be able to find their own delight in creating passages and dialogue to connect with their readers. It is also essential to be a persistent learner, becoming the expert on your topic by continuous research over many years. Research shows that it takes 10,000 hours studying a subject to become an expert. If you have that as your goal, you will become an expert and it will show in your writing.
7. We’ve heard that it is good to provide twists in a good story. How do you do this?
As the parents in my stories follow the five steps to unlocking their Parental Intelligence, there is a shift in the character’s understanding of him or herself and their child. This shift takes place as the parent begins to understand their child’s mind. This is where the character arc comes in. The reader feels the parent changing and is deeply moved as the mother or father comes to grips with the real meaning behind their child’s behavior. Only then can real change take place.
8. What makes your book stand out from the crowd?
There are many parenting books out there that focus on specific stages of child development, child play, and adolescent struggles, but I have yet to find one that focuses on a new approach that covers the life span. Using Parental Intelligence reshapes a family’s life because they have an method that works from infancy through young adulthood. Many reviewers have pointed out in fact that the approach is useful for all human relations.
9. What is your mission?
Above all else, I am a mother first. I have the good fortune backed by hard work and deep thought to have raised two wonderful sons who are wise, empathic, hardworking, successful in their endeavors and have great senses of humor along with a strong sense of their own identities. I enjoy my children and continue to learn from them as they grow older. My mission is to pass on that joyfulness to other parents.
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