Monday, February 22, 2010

Review: Side by Side

Summary: Moms and daughters.

They can go from best friends to mortal enemies with breakneck speed. From boyfriends to curfews and from outfits to eating habits, mothers and daughters often end up in conflict about everything. Now with Side by Side, mothers finally have a proven program to help navigate their relationship with their daughters of any age.

Dr. Charles Sophy has dedicated his career to the physical and mental health of children and families from all walks of life. Through hundreds of consultations, he found the most promising and most problematic family dynamic is that between mother and daughter.

Side by Side introduces the Four Truths of every mother-daughter relationship and a revolutionary communication approach called the Chair Strategy. This mom-driven strategy is designed to harness her power to resolve even the most volatile situations with love, understanding, and respect. It provides a concrete visual of the way mothers and daughters communicate, revealing that at all times, moms and daughters approach each other in one of three positions:
  • back-to-back—when mom and daughter are at odds, neither looking at one another or listening to what the other is saying
  • face-to-face—when they are discussing an issue openly, honestly, and with respect, regardless of whether they agree or not
  • side-by-side—when both are looking in the same direction, sharing the same perspective

Dr. Sophy reveals how to develop the essential skill for identifying your current position and then moving you and your daughter toward the best position for achieving a productive outcome.

Being a mom is hard work, and this practical and accessible explanation of the most important role you will ever play steers you through even the roughest waters, including the hot-button issues of sex, money, and divorce. With exercises, guided conversations, journaling, and real-world stories, this book takes the mother-daughter relationship, regardless of its current state, and leads it toward a new level of understanding, love, and true connection.

Side by Side is the pivotal first step to having a strong and rewarding relationship with your daughter for years to come. -- Harper Collins

When I read the description of the book SIDE BY SIDE: THE REVOLUTIONARY MOTHER-DAUGHTER PROGRAM FOR CONFLICT FREE COMMUNICATION by Dr. Charles Sophy with Brown Kogen to my husband, he thought I'd be crazy not to read this book. I am a mother of a ten year old daughter who is absolutely wonderful. She really is and I'm not just partial because I'm her mom. But...we do tend to clash. And we can push each other's buttons like no one else can.

Now, I'm not saying that our relationship is strained or even that we are any different than other mothers and daughters out there. And I'm not even sure that we necessarily need a book about mother-daughter communication right now. However, I thought it couldn't hurt to educate myself about how to have better communication with my daughter. And then, there's always the thing that my husband seems to think that we could benefit from a little help!

Dr. Sophy starts out the book explaining that moms and daughters really want the same things: love, understanding, and respect. It seems rather obvious when I read it, but I don't know that we always keep these things in mind (especially when the discussion gets heated.) He also states that moms and daughters speak the same language, that they are in competition with each other on some level, and that they have lots of estrogen! These four key truths are reinforced throughout the book.

Dr. Sophy's process involved a great deal of up-front work whereby the mom and daughter get to know themselves better. He has developed a SWEEP checklist -- sleep, work, eating, emotional expression of self, and play; and he has worksheets to help assess where each person is currently strong as well as weak. He stresses that both mom and daughter must first work to find a SWEEP balance.

The basic gist of Dr. Sophy's program for conflict-free communication is called The Chair Strategy. He believes that moms and daughters are always in one of three chair positions -- back-to-back, face-to-face, and side-by-side. He uses the visualization of these chair positions to show how moms and daughters are communicating; and he teaches them how to communicate more effectively and thereby move the chairs to a more optimal position.

I thought Dr. Sophy did a great job of presenting his ideas in a user-friendly, easy-to read format. I also liked that he used lots of case studies of actual mother-daughter pairs who were his patients. I think seeing others who are facing similar circumstances is extremely helpful (and often times made me feel really good about my daughter's and my relationship!)

As is the case with any self-help book that I've ever read, there are things that don't really pertain to my daughter and me (and hopefully never will like the divorce chapter.) But, in the case of SIDE BY SIDE, there were many important lessons to be learned within the pages of this book. I highly recommend SIDE BY SIDE for all moms, even those with very young daughters. It's never to early to learn how to handle conflict with each other and improve communication.

Thanks to Valerie Allen Public Relations for sending me a copy of this book.


bermudaonion said...

There's just something about the relationship between a parent and a child of the same sex. You are so smart to read this so you can be prepared before the teen years. Once you make it through that time, you two will be the best of friends.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like an excellent book. Like you I have a ten year old daughter, and there are times...

Beth F said...

Oh the difficult teen years! But I think you and Booking Daughter are headed for side by side....