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The Gifts of Imperfect Parenting: Raising Children with Courage, Compassion, and Connection

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We all know that perfect parenting does not exist; however, we still struggle with the social expectations that teach us that being imperfect is synonymous with being inadequate. These messages are powerful and we end up spending too much precious time and energy managing perception and creating carefully edited versions of families to show to the world. Based on 12 years We all know that perfect parenting does not exist; however, we still struggle with the social expectations that teach us that being imperfect is synonymous with being inadequate. These messages are powerful and we end up spending too much precious time and energy managing perception and creating carefully edited versions of families to show to the world. Based on 12 years of pioneering research, Dr. Brene Brown off ers a new perspective of the subject of perfect parenting. She states, "It's actually our ability to embrace imperfection that will help us teach our children to have the courage to be authentic, the compassion to love themselves and others, and the sense of connection that gives true purpose and meaning to life." Dr. Brown proposes that the greatest challenge of wholehearted parenting is being the adult that we want our children to grow up to be. The Gifts of Imperfect Parenting is a practical and hopeful program for raising children who know that they are worthy of love, belonging, and joy. Drawing on her research on vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame, Dr. Brown invites listeners on a journey to transform the lives of parents and children alike as we explore how to cultivate wholeheartedness in our families.


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We all know that perfect parenting does not exist; however, we still struggle with the social expectations that teach us that being imperfect is synonymous with being inadequate. These messages are powerful and we end up spending too much precious time and energy managing perception and creating carefully edited versions of families to show to the world. Based on 12 years We all know that perfect parenting does not exist; however, we still struggle with the social expectations that teach us that being imperfect is synonymous with being inadequate. These messages are powerful and we end up spending too much precious time and energy managing perception and creating carefully edited versions of families to show to the world. Based on 12 years of pioneering research, Dr. Brene Brown off ers a new perspective of the subject of perfect parenting. She states, "It's actually our ability to embrace imperfection that will help us teach our children to have the courage to be authentic, the compassion to love themselves and others, and the sense of connection that gives true purpose and meaning to life." Dr. Brown proposes that the greatest challenge of wholehearted parenting is being the adult that we want our children to grow up to be. The Gifts of Imperfect Parenting is a practical and hopeful program for raising children who know that they are worthy of love, belonging, and joy. Drawing on her research on vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame, Dr. Brown invites listeners on a journey to transform the lives of parents and children alike as we explore how to cultivate wholeheartedness in our families.

30 review for The Gifts of Imperfect Parenting: Raising Children with Courage, Compassion, and Connection

  1. 4 out of 5

    Mandie McGlynn

    If you have children, go buy or borrow this book. Like, now. This two-hour audiobook reads more like a workshop by author/narrator Brené Brown. Broken down into simple "guideposts" and with a very friendly, conversational tone, The Gifts of Imperfect Parenting is refreshingly optimistic and realistic. As Dr. Brown says, it's never too late for wholehearted parenting. My favorite thing about this book is that it's not just the advice of some parenting guru. It's not a lot of theory from a psychol If you have children, go buy or borrow this book. Like, now. This two-hour audiobook reads more like a workshop by author/narrator Brené Brown. Broken down into simple "guideposts" and with a very friendly, conversational tone, The Gifts of Imperfect Parenting is refreshingly optimistic and realistic. As Dr. Brown says, it's never too late for wholehearted parenting. My favorite thing about this book is that it's not just the advice of some parenting guru. It's not a lot of theory from a psychologist with no children. It's not new-agey, touchy-feely B.S. It's solid, research-based, practical advice for creating a culture in your home and family that will allow your children the safety and the space, and the safe space, to grow into well-adjusted adults. As Dr. Brown reiterates at the end of the book, there are many ways to be an engaged parent, and we need to stop judging and shaming one another for our differing choices. But I think whether you consider yourself a Tiger Mom or an Attachment Parent, there is much to be gained from this, and it will be two hours of your life well-spent (especially since you can listen while doing chores, like I did!). More of my favorite quotes here. But really, go listen for yourself.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Nathaniel

    I read a few Brené Brown books this year (three, I think) and I definitely have thoughts on them. I'm going to try save those thoughts for where they're more relevant, but overall I don't really like her message very much. I think what she has to say is very interesting, and I believe a lot of the points she makes, but I draw basically the opposite conclusions. She is all about "You are enough," and I find that phrase repugnant because to me it is a collapse or a compromise or a surrender on wha I read a few Brené Brown books this year (three, I think) and I definitely have thoughts on them. I'm going to try save those thoughts for where they're more relevant, but overall I don't really like her message very much. I think what she has to say is very interesting, and I believe a lot of the points she makes, but I draw basically the opposite conclusions. She is all about "You are enough," and I find that phrase repugnant because to me it is a collapse or a compromise or a surrender on what is one of the most vital issues we can think about, as human beings, and that question is: what's the worth or dignity or value of an individual? To say, "You are enough" is repugnant to me because it cedes the premise, which is to ask about a person's value or worth in terms of their abilities or accomplishments or some other--any other--contingent factor. And I refuse to do that. To me, it's vitally important to contest the premise of the question, and to flatly state that a person's value is incontestable and intrinsic. It's also dangerous because, in any conventional sense, it's wrong. You're not enough. I'm not enough. Nobody is enough. None of us are adequate to our own ambitions, or to the needs of those around us, or to the expectations that we and others have of ourselves. For me, if I were to stare in the mirror and say, "You're enough," I would know very well that I was lying. My life--like anybody's--is full of failure and compromise. To say--in the context of that failure and those compromises--that "I'm enough" is to strip the concept of any meaning. I think it's important to establish our sense of value and worth independent of any other possible criteria, metric, or valuation. I am not enough, but I am worthy (to use her phrase). This is a much more robust sense of worth than to say, implicitly, that "I am worthy because I'm enough." That "because"--no matter how implicit--is a fatal flaw, a chink in the armor, an error not only in logic but potentially in how we lead and conduct our lives. Oh, well, so much for containing my critique. Having said all that, this was my favorite of her books because, after the "you're enough" pep-talk, she said two things that really, really helped me as a parent. Here they are. Our kids depend on limits. Our job is to hold them. Our job is not always to be liked, and the things that make our children grow up to be joyful, well-adjusted adults are not always what makes them happy in terms of being kids where limits are being set. There is disconnect there, and I think sometimes we have to suffer through not being understood. The idea that a parent's job is to parent, and not be a buddy, is far from new. But Brown gave some really great context by, for example, talking about a focus group where all the kids (18-19 years old) who had parents who set boundaries would kind of brag about how strict their parents were, with obvious pride in what they (rightly) regarded in hindsight as a sign of parental concern. While those kids who were allowed to do whatever they want were quiet and sad during the focus groups because (again, only in hindsight) they did't have that same evidence of parental concern. Moreover, I really liked that she was frank about the fact that, as a parent, it sucks to hold that line. But not only did she explain why it was important (not only because it keeps them safe, but because holding the line on standards models for them how they should hold the line on their own standards as they grow older), but because the sacrifice is, itself, a way of making families sacred. Another quote: The priest was talking about the nature of sacrifice, and he explained how the word "sacrifice" in its Latin, original form meant "to make sacred" or "to make holy." And now when I'm thinking, "God, this is a lot of work"... And it does feel like a sacrifice, and I've got a big life going on, and I've got so many things to do and so many pressures, y'know, on my time. I think about: "Is this parenting sacrifice? Or is this the process by which we make family sacred?" And to me, the idea of engaging and paying attention in this very short journey--relatively speaking--is a holy act, and it is about making my family sacred. That idea, alone, made the book worthwhile to me. I'll gripe even more about "You are enough" in a subsequent review of one of her other books...

  3. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    I enjoyed this and it got me thinking about how I view myself and the world around me. I really liked the part about home being a safe space to feel included, silly, and vulnerable.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kat

    I have read/listened to a lot of Brene's work. This touched me in a way that nothing else has. A must read (listen) for all parents. I feel more responsible for my failings as a parent and yet hopeful for the opportunity I have to parent better than I was parented. Somehow I became acutely aware of my role as a parent. I cried hard a couple of times, but the message was hopeful and in the end I feel capable and grateful for all the personal work I have done and the possibility of passing that on I have read/listened to a lot of Brene's work. This touched me in a way that nothing else has. A must read (listen) for all parents. I feel more responsible for my failings as a parent and yet hopeful for the opportunity I have to parent better than I was parented. Somehow I became acutely aware of my role as a parent. I cried hard a couple of times, but the message was hopeful and in the end I feel capable and grateful for all the personal work I have done and the possibility of passing that on.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Swaye

    *massive sigh of relief and gratitude* Every parent should listen to this. This audiobook served to lift a massive weight off my heart and helped me let go of so much shame and guilt and recognize what a wonderful mom I am. 👩‍👦💞

  6. 4 out of 5

    Quinton

    "Kids learn so much more from what you do, than what you say. So be the person that you want your kids to be." What a fantastic "read". This gave me ideas on ways I could improve my parenting, but also made me feel good on some of the area where i've held firm. Brene Brown is brilliant, and taking her research and applying it to kids was a great idea. I highly recommend this to anyone with kids. We have to watch out to see you what barriers to worthiness we’re passing down to our kids We can’t give "Kids learn so much more from what you do, than what you say. So be the person that you want your kids to be." What a fantastic "read". This gave me ideas on ways I could improve my parenting, but also made me feel good on some of the area where i've held firm. Brene Brown is brilliant, and taking her research and applying it to kids was a great idea. I highly recommend this to anyone with kids. We have to watch out to see you what barriers to worthiness we’re passing down to our kids We can’t give our kids will we don’t have, so if we tell our kids not to experience shame we shame ourselves they’re going to take more away from what we did to ourselves then we told them If you want your kids to be hopeful, you have to teach them to struggle and let them fail occasionally If you want your kids to be joyful, you have to teach them gratitude Kids are hardwired to push boundaries, their job is to push the boundaries, our jobs as parents is to hold them. Giving kids boundaries actually gives them a sense of security. Our kids depend on these limits. Children learn how to hold boundaries based on how we hold boundaries . If we give in on things that we think are important, our kids will give in on things that they think are important. So hold our boundaries, even if that means that they hate us for it, because it will be worthwhile in the end. Creativity- whole hearted families are creative with each other and encourage creativity. Creativity is something where we can’t be perfect at and where we can express our individuality. Play - What is something that everyone in your family can do, where none of us wanted to end or none of us feel inhibited and we’re we’re all having fun. Play teaches us about empathy to do that interpersonal skills it’s such a good thing. The opposite of Play isn't work, it's depression. Finally, there's Cool. Home has to be a place where you fit in, and you don't have to be 'cool'. You have to be able to be silly at home.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Shelley Carr

    Every parent (I would even suggest this to educators, caregivers, anyone who influences youth) should listen to this audio book! It doesn't matter if you are expecting your first child or have teenagers- it is well worth your time. It opened up great insight on my own behaviors and what research shows my struggles with perfectionism and vulnerability will ultimately do to my own children. She relates the research to her own family and is very honest and transparent about her struggles as a paren Every parent (I would even suggest this to educators, caregivers, anyone who influences youth) should listen to this audio book! It doesn't matter if you are expecting your first child or have teenagers- it is well worth your time. It opened up great insight on my own behaviors and what research shows my struggles with perfectionism and vulnerability will ultimately do to my own children. She relates the research to her own family and is very honest and transparent about her struggles as a parent. This is a great book to help establish a foundation for a safe, secure, and loving home. A home where kids (and adults) feel free to be themselves, to take risks and understand that failure is apart of growth, to build resiliency, to establish hope, be silly, learn to be grateful, and feel that they have unconditional love and support. I will listen to this audio book several times, as I know from my own research that the guideposts presented are critical to developing resilient children who will thrive in the world.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Trina

    As every single piece of Brene Brown's work I have read or listened to, this gives me a lot to think about: how I model my vulnerability to my children, the different between shame and guilt, my sense of worth (and how I show this to my children), and even how I play. As every single piece of Brene Brown's work I have read or listened to, this gives me a lot to think about: how I model my vulnerability to my children, the different between shame and guilt, my sense of worth (and how I show this to my children), and even how I play.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Adi

    Definitely a book I recommend to parents. The lessons about shame vs. guilt are so important to be aware of as parents that you not only learn about parenting your own children, but you also might start to understand why your parents parented the way they did. I am certain most of us would have been parented and educated in different ways if only our parents knew all the stuff we know now. Vulnerability is another important part Brene Brown is talking about. Some of the anecdotes seem a bit stag Definitely a book I recommend to parents. The lessons about shame vs. guilt are so important to be aware of as parents that you not only learn about parenting your own children, but you also might start to understand why your parents parented the way they did. I am certain most of us would have been parented and educated in different ways if only our parents knew all the stuff we know now. Vulnerability is another important part Brene Brown is talking about. Some of the anecdotes seem a bit staged.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Betsy

    Not just for parents. Brene (it's so easy to call her by her first name, isn't it?) tells you why your parents did some of the things they did, and why siblings do know where to hit you the hardest. For any age child of any parent. There are gems in her words, as always. It's not too late to change how you relate to your family. Not just for parents. Brene (it's so easy to call her by her first name, isn't it?) tells you why your parents did some of the things they did, and why siblings do know where to hit you the hardest. For any age child of any parent. There are gems in her words, as always. It's not too late to change how you relate to your family.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Alvin

    Brené is so Brené! I came across a couple of these "sessions" on Hoopla and dove in. Who couldn't use a couple of hours of wholeheartedness. I loved this one mostly because how relevant it is to me now in this point of my personal and professional life. Highly recommended for any parent or anyone who knows a kid or was once a kid. Brené is so Brené! I came across a couple of these "sessions" on Hoopla and dove in. Who couldn't use a couple of hours of wholeheartedness. I loved this one mostly because how relevant it is to me now in this point of my personal and professional life. Highly recommended for any parent or anyone who knows a kid or was once a kid.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Camille

    Love her. I did this as an audio book - and I would recommend it as the way to go. Brene does the narration, and she gives it almost as a presentation - like her well-regarded TED talk. It's short, but there's a lot to absorb. I'll be listening to it again. Love her. I did this as an audio book - and I would recommend it as the way to go. Brene does the narration, and she gives it almost as a presentation - like her well-regarded TED talk. It's short, but there's a lot to absorb. I'll be listening to it again.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Regina

    Sure, I don’t have kids, but I’m running out of BB audiobooks and really felt like I needed her insights on shame and courage today. She’s told these stories before, but I always find value in their message.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Becky

    I picked this up because I was curious about Brene Brown, for whom I've heard a lot of praise but hadn't heard/read anything other than maybe a TED talk; because I am a deeply imperfect parent who wants to be the best I can be; and because the audiobook was only a couple hours long. And I loved this book. Like, want to go back and handwrite quotes and passages to have on my bulletin board, LOOOOVED. I am not overly inclined toward self help, but I know I will be revisiting this regularly. There's I picked this up because I was curious about Brene Brown, for whom I've heard a lot of praise but hadn't heard/read anything other than maybe a TED talk; because I am a deeply imperfect parent who wants to be the best I can be; and because the audiobook was only a couple hours long. And I loved this book. Like, want to go back and handwrite quotes and passages to have on my bulletin board, LOOOOVED. I am not overly inclined toward self help, but I know I will be revisiting this regularly. There's a lot to sink in that I really want to embrace, and just one pass wasn't enough for me. Highly, highly recommended to parents.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sharon Erickson

    I learned so much from this book and it also made me feel like I’m not alone. Brene offered really good, practical advice and knowledge on being a whole hearted parent and accepting imperfections/mistakes. To me the underlying theme is learning to recognize our behavior and going forward. Her personal stories as examples to different parts of the book made her very relatable. I could read this again just so that I haven’t missed pertinent information. I can’t wait to read Brene Browns other book I learned so much from this book and it also made me feel like I’m not alone. Brene offered really good, practical advice and knowledge on being a whole hearted parent and accepting imperfections/mistakes. To me the underlying theme is learning to recognize our behavior and going forward. Her personal stories as examples to different parts of the book made her very relatable. I could read this again just so that I haven’t missed pertinent information. I can’t wait to read Brene Browns other books.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Natalie

    Deeply helpful to my parenting process.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Nicole Cann

    Fast, honest, useful, easily applicable, and inspiring. Great book

  18. 5 out of 5

    Shweta Kumar

    I really enjoyed this book. As a parent with elementary school aged kids, I felt like it offered a lot of timely insights and strategies. It discussed shame vs. guilt, the myth of perfect parenting and how to work on wholehearted parenting. Recommended for parents with kids who are 7+.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Katrina Sark

    Mostly repeat of what she says in the other books: "We can’t raise children who are more shame-resilient than we are. We can’t give then what we don’t have. So in many ways, parenting is about making a journey with our children toward wholeheartedness. And it’s about learning and growing alongside them." Importance of being mindful about the relationships between siblings. Siblings know exactly what hurts each other. They see the struggles. They are witnesses to our best moment and the most diff Mostly repeat of what she says in the other books: "We can’t raise children who are more shame-resilient than we are. We can’t give then what we don’t have. So in many ways, parenting is about making a journey with our children toward wholeheartedness. And it’s about learning and growing alongside them." Importance of being mindful about the relationships between siblings. Siblings know exactly what hurts each other. They see the struggles. They are witnesses to our best moment and the most difficult challenges. And so they have some ammunition that can be used to hurt in very powerful ways. […] In this household we will work very hard to never use our vulnerabilities against each other. Children experience shame as the threat of being unlovable. Hope is a function of struggle. When we don’t expose our children to struggle, when we don’t allow them to find their way out, when we don’t allow them to know failure, when we don’t allow them to know disappointment, we tear at their hopefulness. When I look at a culture of kids who want more and more and more, and never seem content with what they have, I’m really called upon to say: we need more joy and we need more gratitude, and we need them together. We need to stop and be grateful for what we have. It’s not about an attitude of gratitude, it’s about practicing gratitude. They had very tangible practices in their families, in their homes, in their lives. Our kids depend on limits – our job is to hold them. Our job is not always to be liked.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Courtney Gorden

    Brene never lets me down. I loved listening to her talk- it felt like we were having a conversation. There is so much great advice in this book!!! It's a must read for parents! Brene never lets me down. I loved listening to her talk- it felt like we were having a conversation. There is so much great advice in this book!!! It's a must read for parents!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    I really wasn't sure I was going to like this. It's more a lecture or a talk than a book. And though at times I was annoyed by yet another anecdote about her kids, they really did drive home the points she was making and made them more relatable. I really got s lot out of this. Will be listening to this again. I really wasn't sure I was going to like this. It's more a lecture or a talk than a book. And though at times I was annoyed by yet another anecdote about her kids, they really did drive home the points she was making and made them more relatable. I really got s lot out of this. Will be listening to this again.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    A dear friend loaned this to me and I loved it. That was a couple, maybe three years ago & I felt it was time for a re-read. My time with a child in the home grows short & I want to make the most of it. Loved this refresher. Love Brene!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    Love this! Simple, thought provoking ways to become a better parent and human being. Listening to this book again, two years later, was an incredible experience of self assessment resulting in both celebration and goal making.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Megan Helmer

    All hail Queen Brene! I will devour everything this woman puts into the world. This is an audio exclusive and it’s like sitting down and receiving a pep Talk about parenting from the one and only. I am so happy I own this and can listen to it over and over again. It’s only about 3 hours long.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    This had so many important thoughts, that while I listened to it I had to stop repeatedly and type out quotes to go back to and meditate on later. Well worth the two hour listen.

  26. 4 out of 5

    alwz

    This 2 hour audio book is fantastic. Well with your time for some thought provoking talk about how to raise children- this is down to earth, realistic and applicable.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Shaun

    This was a quick book to read with some sound advice about parenting. A good recommendation for any parent.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Leah

    Quick and easy read with lots of really thoughtful insights. Will definitely read again & highly recommend!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Lisa RV

    Short but really hit home for me. I plan to listen again & take a few key notes to remind myself.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    This is a must read book!!!!

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