The Whole Parent: Book One: 12 Steps to Serenity for Unwed Parents, a Practical Life Guide By Margot Sheahan (VCA Publishing, 115 pages, $12.95 U.S.)

Review by Marie Dooley
The Interim

This book is well written, and although a short book such as this can never solve all the problems of single parenthood, it manages to give some practical guidelines, with testimonies and stories that would be encouraging for a single parent.

It has a spiritual basis. God is mentioned very naturally. One of the girls who attends the meetings of Unwed Parents Anonymous (modelled on Alcoholics Anonymous) says that she had never realized that “God is in control, not me.”

The sixth step in the program, entitled Willingness, relies on prayer and meditation. Do we have faith enough to pray and meditate when we confront our character defects? In this step, there is particular mention of a sponsor, a person in whom we can confide and from whom we can receive useful advice: “There is fear that the sponsor who heard our inventory and whom we trusted would reject us or condemn us for our wrongdoings. The fear is misplaced, for it is exactly this trusted person who helps us to uncover the habits and character defects which we have a sincere desire to overcome. Some of these habits had been developed as a means of self-protection, such as hiding feelings from others and remaining aloof. It was a way of making sure no one could know our thoughts and hurt us”.

In Step 8, Love, the goal is to “surrender to a relationship with God and change behaviours and attitudes for the better. Practising the steps ‘one day at a time,’ leads to feelings of serenity and security, which are heightened for us and those around us. Stress is reduced, self-confidence is increased and positive goals are set. There is a determination to change.”

The glossary and the short version of the 12 Steps, both at the back of the book, can be most helpful. The glossary may very well be the first time many readers have had terms like abstinence and chastity explained in a moral context.

A book that presents 12 Steps to Serenity for Unwed Parents should include some positive help that the reader could look for, such as phone numbers of parenting programs.

I certainly think this book would be a useful tool for us to have in our office and I would gladly give it out to some of our clients.

Marie Dooley lives in Oakville.