Do you ever wonder why your child behaves the way she does? How many times in a single day do you ask yourself, “Why did she do that?” Even little things can throw you. Your three-year-old lies about brushing his teeth. He lied? At age three? Sometimes it’s subtle. For example, your teenage daughter tells you about her day, something she rarely does. Why now? Is she just feeling chatty or did something happen that she’s not quite ready to tell you yet? Sitting in a parent-teacher conference, or even a principal’s office, you may ask yourself, “Why did my child behave that way? How am I supposed to handle this?”
We’ve all experienced that awful feeling of fear, surprise, or incomprehension when our kids do something unusual, unimaginable, or outright distressing. And when nothing changes, despite our best efforts to address the behavior, all we can do is wonder, “Why?”
It’s common to have moments of despair, when you feel that parenting is beyond you; when you believe that the job requires a special kind of intelligence that wasn’t encrypted on your  brain and you’re waiting for the time when you can sustain—for just one day—that important parent-child bond psychologists say is necessary for a healthy family life.
In Unlocking Parental Intelligence, I give you a new perspective on behaviors that may confound you and cause you powerful inner pressure or even panic. I lead you up a path that enlightens, uplifts, and relieves you as you learn how to unmask the meanings behind your child’s behavior. As you continue to practice this process, you will become a meaning-maker, empowered to read your child’s actions like an open book. Using the tools I provide, I help you experience the heightened energy and deep satisfaction that come with unlocking your Parental Intelligence.
Parenting offers many humorous, precious situations—like the time you invited fifty people to your daughter’s first birthday party and she pressed her chubby fingers into the center 
of the chocolate cake you baked, swirled them around, and then happily put them into your mouth like there was no distance between the two of you. If only it could stay that way; if only that instant could last forever, like a memento that reminds you of the cow that jumped over the moon. You hoped she could have a dreamy childhood and never stop believing that family life is all chocolate cake. We all wish it could stay simple—all good humor and pure joy.
But parenting can have a difficult side, too—like the time your eight-year-old fled the house yelling, “I’m running away! Why do you ruin everything? You never get it.” He came back, exhausted after fifteen tortuous minutes speeding around the front yard like a freight train that had gone off its track and landed in a deep ditch. You stood by the window, watching him, heart pounding, worried and scared. You felt winded, as if you were the locomotive spinning off the track. Tears pushed out from your tired eyes. And your son came in defeated and spent. Even though he returned, you knew there was some deeper meaning behind what he did. But what do you do when you’re afraid that whatever is wrong will shadow you and your child everywhere? The stakes are high.
I’ve been inspired to write Unlocking Parental Intelligence after three decades of clinical work as a psychoanalyst, working with both mothers and fathers who came to me at different stages in their parenting careers, 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 lives. I am grateful to those parents for telling me how unlocking their Parental Intelligence has benefited their families.
The circumstances and backgrounds of these mothers and fathers vary greatly—they had children of different ages, they were at different stages of their parenting lives, and they came 
from different economic and social backgrounds. Yet, I discovered that they had some crucial things in common. They were conscientious, thinking parents. And most importantly, they all wanted to understand their kids. This was key.
They were all searching for that special intelligence needed for respectful parenting, even if they didn’t quite know how to ask for it. What they were searching for is what I call Parental Intelligence. I coined this term because I believe parenting requires the persistence and rigor of an intelligence that can be honed with the right tools and life experience.
I believe parents should never be underestimated—even when they doubt themselves. With a clearly designed pathway, you can unlock your Parental Intelligence, access and harness your parenting capacities, and solve the most important problems your children are facing.
With Parental Intelligence, you will figure out the whys behind your child’s behavior. Knowing why your child behaves a certain way will allow you to find the best approach to dealing with the behavior. Understanding why your child acts out, disobeys, or behaves in disruptive and disturbing ways is the key to preventing the recurrence of the behavior. Parental 
Intelligence provides that understanding.
I have narrowed down and systemized the learning process into five steps that will unlock your Parental Intelligence. And I will illustrate—through examples of many difficult scenarios of compelling family situations—how to use these positive parenting steps in order to achieve the outcomes you desire.
These five steps reveal how behavior mirrors the workings of your child’s mind. With Parental Intelligence, you enter the inner world of your child and understand where he or she is coming from. You will no longer focus initially on stopping misbehavior, but you will first try to understand the meaning behind the misbehavior, and even consider it a useful communication. This approach not only prevents undesired behavior more effectively, it also strengthens parent-child relationships. You and your child grow together.

Three basic interrelated tenets lie behind Parental Intelligence:
  1. Behaviors have underlying meanings
  2. Once parents understand how their own minds are working, they are liberated to understand their child—how their child’s mind is working
  3. Once meanings are clear, options surface by which to change unwanted behaviors.
When the three core concepts come into play, the ambiance of family life fundamentally changes.
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In Unlocking Parental Intelligence, long-experienced psychoanalyst, Laurie Hollman, PhD, encourages parents to find the significance behind their child’s behaviors by becoming “meaning-ma...
Unlocking Parental Intelligence

Laurie Hollman

I am a psychoanalyst with specialized clinical training in infant-parent, child, adolescent, and adult psychotherapy. I write extensively for parents about child development, mental health, Parental Intelligence, and a broad range of parenting topics... Read More