Posted by: fatherof11 | July 18, 2007

The Heart of Anger – book review

Probably the book we recommend most to parents of older adopted children is _The Heart of Anger_, by Lou Priolo. Although not written specifically for parents of internationally adopted children, it is an excellent resource for helping deal with what is often one of the biggest issues with these kids – anger – using biblical principles. Basic communications will need to exist between parent and child in order for the suggested methods to be used, but Mr. Priolo also includes a section in the appendix regarding how to apply these to non verbal children. In his example the child is a two year old, but older children who are learning the language could be reached with a similar approach.

_The Heart of Anger_ is guaranteed to step on your toes, but don’t let that stop you from reading it! From the beginning, parents are instructed to examine their own lives (take the log out of their own eye) before tackling the problems their children are having (taking the speck out of their eye). There is a list of 25 ways that parents provoke their children to wrath and if anyone can read that and say honestly that they do not fall prey to some of those temptations, I will be very surprised! A number of them surely hit home with me…

Chapter 5 is a very excellently written description of “Practicing Biblical Communication”. He addresses all kinds of situations parents might find themselves in with their kids (ungracious speech, disrespect, interruptions, not communicating, name calling, judging motives, raising the voice, rolling the eyes, manipulation, sulking/pouting, an angry countenance, and inattentiveness) and suggests biblical ways of responding. This entire book is filled with one practical application after another, all of them quite realistic and appropriate to the subject matter.

Journaling is a major way that the author suggests to help your child work through their anger issues, and the heart issues that prompt that anger. Sample journals are provided and copying privileges granted. We have used these journals with some of our own kids and they can be very helpful in difficult situations.

The chapters dealing with manipulation by children are particularly good, and appropriate for our subject of dealing with older adopted children. As most parents of these children soon come to realize, they are absolute masters of manipulation, having learned many of these techniques as a means of survival in their earlier environment. My favorite quote from this book is in Chapter 9, titled “Disrespect and Manipulation”. Priolo states, “Again remember, that your child may have practiced his manipulative ways so long, that at any given moment he may not be aware of what his desires really are. Your job is to help him see what they are and that they are selfish and sinful.” Ha! Is this not life with the older adopted child, in a nutshell?

In the end, this book offers more excellent suggestions of how to deal with these problems on a day to day basis (i.e., the Think Room) and outlines a process that your child can use for appealing decisions he/she feels may have been made without all of the necessary information. Again, Priolo provides much biblical basis for this appeal process. I was actually quite surprised at all of the appeals he pointed out that were made in the Bible!

This book is an absolute “must-have” for parents of older adopted children, and strongly suggested for all parents, regardless of the backgrounds of their children. Lou Priolo does an excellent job of using biblical principles to guide parents as they deal with this very difficult subject. He also does not shy away from pointing out the need for them to first examine their own lives, which I greatly appreciate.

This book can be purchased from Amazon or from Grace and Truth books (see link on sidebar). Buy an extra copy, because you will find yourself recommending it to others and most likely giving your own copy away, as we have done numerous times!



  1. Sharon is actually reading this book right now and loves it. Great pic!
    BTW, you won quote of the week at the Moor.

  2. I hope your wife enjoys the book as much as we have, Jonathon. I recently sent a copy of it to a friend and we are going through it together, via email. They have a large family, but one child in particular has been very difficult for many years, since her adoption. With the help of the biblical principles in this book, they seem to finally be “seeing the light”! It is delightful to watch, although the light may actually be the fact that they are focusing more on their own obedience to the Lord.


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