Category Archives: Book review

Who’s in Charge? A much awaited book from Eddie Gallagher


Many of us have been waiting a long time for this book to appear. Whether you prefer to think about it as a bible or a brain is up to you, but the 500+ pages represent the outpouring of Eddie Gallagher’s understanding and thinking over nearly 25 years in the field of children’s violence and abuse towards parents, drawing on both available literature and his own significant practice experience, working with families individually and in developing the Who’s in Charge? model of work with parents.

Written primarily with parents in mind, the material is very practical; the style is conversational; chapters are broken down into clearly titled sections; and case studies, exercises and illustrations are scattered throughout. Following opening chapters which look at defining child to parent violence, and the profile of families affected, the reader is led first though some background understanding of parenting, parenting style, and parent blaming, before addressing our growing understanding of why children can act in this way, and offering practical steps that can be taken to bring about change. In each instance the subsections delve deeper, offer a counter argument, occasionally mock, and generally bring colour and the author’s distinctive voice to what might otherwise feel a rather daunting exercise. Eddie wants to break the taboo around this issue, to help parents understand that they are not alone, and to open up the conversation more widely.

The book is structured with chapters leading on from one another, and developing ideas further in subsequent sections. Eddie has a particular focus on personality types of children affected, as an outworking of his own practice. His experience has shown that this is an issue for many families where there is experience of domestic violence, or a parenting style that leaves children feeling entitled and inappropriately powerful in the home. Particular issues, such as girls who abuse their parents, warrant a separate chapter to themselves. The thorny question of reward and punishment, or ‘consequences’, is developed over a number of chapters. ‘Optional’ chapters at the end include a look at substance use, social media, mental health diagnoses, and the sometimes tricky or turbulent relationships with ex-partners. Eddie feels very strongly about some of these and you can sense his passion in the way he writes. You may feel that some of these may offer more understanding of the issues than actual responses.  I found the section on diagnoses particularly interesting. This is always a contentious issue, but also one that we need to seriously consider as practitioners and thinkers in this area of work or study, leaking as it does into the discussions on definition and intent.

Eddie urges realism about the prospects for the future, acknowledging that some families will continue to experience violence. At the same time, he offers advice to parents, which has proved useful and successful in restoring harmony over the quarter-century that he has been in practice.

Those familiar with Eddie’s work, through reading his website or through facilitating or attending groups, may recognise some of the material, but there is plenty more here to develop the themes and extend the discussion and learning.

What do I think?

  • This is a book to dip in and out of, whether as a parent or a professional – difficult to face in one sitting – although in doing so you may miss other linked ideas.
  • A mine of amazing resources for work with families experiencing this problem.
  • Some families, for instance those with adopted children, may feel that the material is less directly relevant to their family circumstances and parenting style.
  • Some slightly annoying editorial glitches, which I would hope might be addressed in future editions.
  • With so little information available for parents, this is an important and timely book, offering tried and tested understanding and responses.

Eddie Gallagher, 2018, Who’s in Charge? Why children abuse parents, and what you can do about it,    Austin Macauley Publishers, £17.99 (30% off at the moment!)

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Non-Violent Resistance as a response to a “Wicked Problem”

Declan Coogan’s new book, Child to Parent Violence and Abuse: Family Interventions with Non-Violent Resistance, was published in November, and I am very pleased to finally be able to read and review it!

Coogan first encountered Non-Violent Resistance (NVR) as a therapeutic intervention in 2007, and has been instrumental in piloting it as a response to child to parent violence, offering training and consultation, and ultimately in introducing it as a nationwide model in Ireland. As such, he is very definitely qualified to present this book as an explanation of, and introduction to, the practice of NVR, particularly with reference to violence and abuse from children to parents. Continue reading

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“Family Interventions with Non Violent Resistance”

It’s great to see a new book in the field of child to parent violence and abuse coming out later this year from Declan Coogan, who has driven the development of understanding and use of Non Violent Resistance in Ireland.















The book can be pre-ordered on Amazon now, or you can sign up to receive more information from the publisher, JKP, once it is available.

Addressing the under-reported issue of child to parent violence and abuse, this book presents the effective intervention method of Non-Violent Resistance. Tips for adapting the method, alongside case studies and downloadable forms make this an invaluable tool for practitioners working with affected families.

Providing an authoritative overview of the growing phenomena of child to parent violence – a feature in the daily life of increasing numbers of families – this book outlines what we know about it, what is effective in addressing it, and outlines a proven model for intervention. 

Based on Non Violent Resistance (NVR), the model is founded on a number of key elements: parental commitment to non-violence, de-escalation skills, increased parental presence, engaging the support network and acts of reconciliation. The book outlines the theory and principles, and provides pragmatic guidance for implementing these elements, accompanied by case studies to bring the theory to life.

Declan was part of the team who worked on the pan-European RCPV project which reported in 2015; and continues to teach, train and develop the work within Ireland.

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Adopting: real life stories



I was a bit surprised when this book first dropped through my letter box. I hadn’t offered to review it and so for a while it lay on a very tall pile of “books to read when I have some spare time”. But of course the title should have given it away…

If anyone was thinking that love is all that’s needed, or was tempted ever to say that “all kids do that”, then this is a book for them! Not that it’s all doom and gloom by any means. Adoption stories are statistically more often positive and affirming, but it is a sad fact that as many as a third of families will experience real struggles (see Beyond the Adoption Order) and Ann Morris quietly and without drama shows us both sides of the coin. Continue reading

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Book review: Anger is my friend

Why can it seem so difficult to engage young people in addressing their violence? Sam Ross suggests that we are starting from the wrong place. If we are to help teenagers understand that aggression is more likely to harm than help them, we have to understand why they hold on to it so tightly in the first place.



Speaking sometimes in the voice of an adult, and sometimes as a teen, Ross has given us a collection of writings (not a manual) to reflect on, whether on your own or as part of a group for supervision or training. It is written for professionals but also valuable for parents, and takes as its central point the mantra that if you try to treat the anger you will always fail: First you must build a relationship. Continue reading

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Breaking the Cycle of child-to-parent violence and abuse

It’s always good to see new books published in this field, and so I was pleased to take a look at this “self-guided course for parents of angry, aggressive adolescents or teens” from Elaine Morgan and Laurie Reid. Published by Breaking the Cycle Consulting, Breaking the Cycle of Child-to-Parent Violence and Abuse is available direct from the authors or from Amazon.



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Learning about feelings, building resilience with Cyril Squirrel

Cyril Squirrel Finds Out About Love, by Jane Evans (2016) Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

I was very pleased to be asked to review this book, having first met Jane around the time she was starting to write the first of her books for young children. Jane is a trauma parenting specialist with many years experience in the field of domestic violence, fostering and, most recently, work on the brain responses to trauma. We met at the Oxford APV conference, and of course the experience of early trauma does seem to be a factor for many families where there is child to parent violence. If we can get things right early on with resources such as these books, then we can hopefully help parents create a healthier and more resilient environment for their children.



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