Parents Under The Influence is a book I wish I’d had when I began raising my children: an empirical guide to parenting, supplementing my own experiences with concrete examples drawn from friends and acquaintances, as well as from case studies by therapists who trusted me with delicate information, and from works of fiction and pop cultural phenomena relating to the topic of parenthood.
This book is aimed at all parents who find themselves under the influence—as I myself was, and sometimes still am. Indeed, I believe we are all under the influence when we don’t acknowledge the impact our childhood has on our parenting style, and when we haven’t developed the habit of questioning ourselves and setting constructive priorities for our children. My hope is that this book will help parents reflect upon their own unconscious assumptions and enable them to do the right thing for their children. After all, our parenting sets a template that, for better or for worse, stays with them for the rest of their lives.
Parents Under the Influence
Words of Wisdom from a Former Bad Mother
Other Press– January 2020
Photo by Sari Goodfriend
They read it
“With penetrating psychological insight, Cécile David-Weill traces the inborn and inherited errors of parenthood and explains how a raised consciousness can overcome those dangerous predispositions. Love is the prerequisite to good parenting but not its essence; parenting requires immense care and considerable self-knowledge. David-Weill draws on anecdote and scholarship to create a book that is gentle and often wise, a guide to parenting that is itself full of both affection and skill.”
Author of The Noonday Demon and Far from the Tree
“This book is the beginning of a new oeuvre; not child psychology, moreparent psychology.It is a beautifully wrought study of how children and parents relate, inspiring for its radical blend of the personally felt and the clinically observed.”
Designer, cabaret performer, talk-show host, TV celebrity, and author of I.M.
“Cécile David-Weill brings to this insightful, engaging study all the qualities she identifies as crucial to good parenting: compassion, humor, wisdom born of rigorous self-questioning, and an unwavering focus on what our children need the most. Parents Under the Influence is indispensable reading for all parents and caregivers who in the face of difficult family dynamics seek to establish happier, healthier relationships with their children.”
Recipient of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Economics
“In her at once encyclopedic and utterly unpretentious, beautifully written book, Parents Under the Influence, Cécile David-Weill describes how and why we parent, and when and why we are most likely to make mistakes. She is neither academic nor proscriptive as she provides a passionate, deeply felt case for why parenting should be, at its best, a joy. Our one task as parents is to reckon with our own ‘influence’: our parents, our childhoods. As a mother, I am in awe of her ability to explode clichés and illuminate the essence of that most complex thing: raising another human being.”
Author of Eleven Days and Red, White, Blue
"It is rare and refreshing to read a self-help book that captures the sophisticated nuance of human folly and the hazards of self-deception that parents face. Cecile David-Weill addresses day-to-day challenges of bringing up children as well as the generational transmission of parental anxieties and conflict with thoughtful reflection and advice. With psychological acumen and a rich descriptive style she provides an invaluable offering for parents to take stock of what matters. »
Dr Joan Wheelis, MD
Harvard Medical School
"Recognizing that raising children is a messy endeavor is an important first step in achieving success in the high stakes game of parenting. In her bestselling introspective, Cecile David-Weill unselfishly unpacks her past and shares her truth. Parents Under the Influence encourages self-examination and provides tools, for all parents, that make confronting ones’ faults and shortcomings less intimidating and more approachable. No matter what kind of family we come from or the type of family we want to create ourselves, there’s no longer a universal concept of “normal.” There is no one size fits all. No quick fix. No predictable path. No guarantees. Parenting is a contact sport. Take the time to read this book, to consider the many challenges and thoughtful solutions, big and small - and improve your chance for success. "
Father of 2, Manhattan NY
"A breezy yet thought-provoking look at family life and uninetntional legacies."
"In Parents Under the Influence: Words of Wisdom from a Former Bad Mother ($16, Other Press), the French-American writer and mom of three explores the unexpected challenges of parenting and offers hard-won advice on how to make raising successful children easier on parents and kids alike. "
TOWN & COUNTRY
Much of what David-Weill discusses is straightforward and common sense, but having it compiled into a logically progressive text that identifies the key ways we mimic our parents and then provides helpful ways to work around these issues makes this book a worthy read for parents of children of all ages. Easy-to-assimilate lessons on creating a healthy and respectful relationship with your child.
Cécile David-Weill, author
Cécile David-Weill is a French American author who is born and based in New York. She published her first novel Crush (Grove Press, 1997) under the name of Cécile de la Baume. Her next two novels are wickedly funny comedies of manners set in glamorous French locales.
The first, Femme de… ( in French, Grasset), follows three senior executives and their wives on a weekend corporate retreat in a luxurious hotel off season in La Baule, a beach resort in West of France, and offers a satirical take on both professional ambition and married life.
In 2014, Cécile David-Weill published Chroniques de New York (in French, Grasset), a hilarious collection of tips for surviving in the Big Apple, gathered from her regular contribution to the French news magazine Le Point. Her most recent work is Parents under the Influence, Words of Wisdom from a Former Bad Mother (Other Press, January 2020).
Part memoir part guide, this book offers both understanding and remedy to those parents who are unknowingly under the influence of their childhood experience, and unwittingly repeat their parents’ mistakes while believing they are doing the right thing. Cécile David-Weill draws on her own parenting blunders and successes as well as concrete examples, case studies, and works of fiction to guide readers, helping us heal from the past and become effective, nurturing parents.