Dr. Jan Johnston
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It Takes a Child to Raise a Parent: Stories of Evolving Child and Adult Development.

Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.

While parents prepare for the birth of their children with trips to the doctor and birthing classes, parenthood itself requires on the job training. Here, Johnston invites parents to explore their own childhood experiences and memories in order to better understand the parenting challenges they face daily, and to accept that children raise parents as much as parents raise children. With tips, stories, and exercises, she guides parents through the various developmental stages of their children, and illustrates how we can make each moment count, one interac- tion at a time.

It Takes a Child to Raise a Parent is available at Rowman & Littlefield, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon.

Now available in Paperback!


“This is the first book I have read that explores deeply how raising a child changes and impacts a parent. It gives parents the lens to see themselves and therefore grow, change, and be better deliberate parents. Two adjectives to describe this book: unique and needed. Two verbs: buy and read!”

— JoAnn Deak, Ph.D, author of Your Fantastic Elastic Brain; How Girls Thrive; Girls Will be Girls: Raising Confident and Courageous Daughters

“There is no more important and job for which we are given fewer directions than parenting. Drawing on her decades of work with children and families and her voluminous reading, Janis Johnston has produced a valuable and practical map for parents to learn about themselves and from their children. Sprinkled with sage quotes and bits of wisdom, the book covers all the pitfalls at each stage of parenting and offers parents the chance to enhance their flexibility and creativity through this daunting journey.”

— Richard C. Schwartz, Ph.D., developer of the Internal Family Systems model of psychotherapy, President of the Center for Self Leadership

“With an unusually creative writing style, Janis Clark Johnston gives us a new perspective on parenting. Illustrated with a wide variety of case studies, and validated by experts, we come to understand the reciprocal impact parents and their children have on each other. When I finished reading this book, I also had a new, insightful understanding of myself.”

— Myrna B. Shure, Ph.D. Professor, Drexel University and author, Thinking Parent, Thinking Child

This book offers a guide for parent-child interactions for those who think about becoming a parent, pregnant parents, and current parents. I have looked far and wide to connect the dots in raising families well. An avid reader, I have turned to books for the “big picture” to help me cope with life’s challenges. Now it is my privilege to share one perspective on one of our most critical topics of the new millennium. My ideas stem not only from my years as a much-loved child, but also from years of loving and learning as my two children helped raise my parenting potential, and years of learning from children in both my private practice as a family psychologist and in public schools as a school psychologist. This book maps the healthy development of children within a context of developing parents. All of us are parents-in-training, with not only a mandate to meet our children’s basic needs, but also an equal requirement to address our own basic needs along the raising road.   

Families experience stress in the new millennium.  With basic security questioned in the shadow of post 9-11 trauma, an uncertain world economy poses an additional financial security issue for families. Among fortunate parents with jobs, families juggle competing personality roles. Mothers often work outside the home; some choose careers, but many are single moms with few choices. The second shift of child care/home care shrinks the possibilities for parental self-reflection necessary to raise children well.  As various chores of modern life increase, children’s needs pile up as one more load of laundry.  

  • Who has available energy to raise children?  In most families, children “raise” parents just as much as parents “raise” children.
  • Sometimes, grandparents pinch-hit for working moms and dads.  They have less energy in facing developmental needs in raising a second generation.
  • People still look to books for guidance.

However, there are few parenting books integrating the basic needs of a parent with those of their children. Caretakers relate in different ways to one child, as opposed to another in the family. Caretakers juggle their own needs differently in various life transitions; each child “raises” a parent in certain aspects. Parents learn to re-negotiate needs that surface from their own childhood memories as youth encounter each developmental transition. It Takes a Child to Raise a Parent presents a step-by-step path to enhanced parenting. Not only can children benefit from this approach, but caretakers find renewal in their own potential along the journey. No other source offers the use of children’s and parents’ artistic maps to illustrate their personality issues. The personality maps are drawn as concrete directions to help both children and adults in their understanding of “who am I?”

Also by Janis Clark Johnston, Ed.D.:

Midlife Maze: A Map to Recovery and Rediscovery after Loss

Transforming Retirement: Rewire and Grow Your Legacy

Links to other resources



Dr. Janis Clark Johnston
Email DrJan@JanisJohnston.com • Telephone 708-334-9126

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