Confession time: I (Daye) have not one but SIX copies of this book (and its sister books, How to Talk So Teens Will Listen & Listen So Teens Will Talk, and How to Talk So Kids Can Learn) on my bookshelf. As I say in class: whenever I find a copy at a thrift store, I buy it, because I love to give them away.
How to Talk was originally published in 1980, by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. It's been revised and sold millions of copies since. I remember seeing it on my Mom's nightstand when I was a kid. "That's dumb," I thought at the time; "she'll never get that to work on me." (In retrospect, seven-year-old-me was wrong; it wasn't, and she did).
Decades later, as an adult, I rediscovered the book when working as an outdoor educator at Strathcona Park Lodge. It opens with one of my favourite lines: "I was a great parent before I had kids." (Now Mom to a 4-month-old; can confirm). Filled with cartoons, anecdotes, and humour, How to Talk is an effective and empathetic primer on communicating with humans of any age.
At Strathcona, I realized it was changing the way I talked to the schoolkids I worked with, but also how I was talking to my co-workers and friends. I eventually started running workshops based on How To Talk for other outdoor educators there. I can confidently say this book was the beginning of a path that saw me going back to school to become a counsellor.
In honour of Mother's Day, I'm highlighting How to Talk as our resource of the month. Look for it at a thrift store near you -- or try here.
Donetta Faye (Daye) Cooper Hagel is a clinical counsellor, veteran wilderness guide, and director of the Mental Health Wilderness First Aid program on the west coast of British Columbia, Canada. Read more about her and the MHWFA on the About Us page!