Parenting is the most complex of subjects to read (and some might argue, write) about because most of us are looking for the impossible. We want a mind-reader that understands us and our kids and simultaneously assure us “your-kids-are-going-to-be-well-adjusted-adults-one-day-and-they-will-sing-your-ever-loving-praises”.
But, every time we’ll come up empty-handed.
This is where a lot of us will throw out the baby with the bath water and proudly proclaim, “I don’t need books! I have my intuition!”
God bless the intuition.
When your child bites another kid in the nursery or your 6 year old crumbles into a heap on the floor every time you gently correct them, you’re going to need that intuition. If you, like me, can’t seem to find it in crucial conflicts like these, keep reading.
The truth is is that no matter how maternal you are or aren’t, how experienced you are, or aren’t (oldest daughter of 14 kids over here) your kids are going to throw a variety of scenarios at you and nothing, I mean nothing, can possibly prepare you for it. There is wisdom in admitting this and recognizing there are experienced mothers, pediatricians, and therapists who have done research we don’t always have the time to do to figure our own kids out. Throw the white flag and just repeat after me: “Parenting is not what I thought it would be and I need help.”
While I don’t believe there is a magical child sleeping formula out there just waiting to be discovered, I do believe literature can provide tremendous tools and support. You’ll likely not agree with everything you read, you’ll likely read some really dumb ideas that clearly do not pertain to you and your family’s situation, but you’ll also likely find there’s some really smart people out there who have done enough Pinterest lunch art projects to give you some takeaways.
Maturity is taking the good and shelving the rest.
So! Here’s the list of parenting books that have made a difference for me and how I parent. I’ve found them to be full of hope and grace and my prayer is that you will find one or two that fuel your own parenting journey for another day, another hour, another bedtime routine.
While I am tempted to bristle a bit at the subtitle of this book, I believe Rachel does an excellent job of convincing you these little years aren’t actually the trenches, but an opportunity. An opportunity to train and instill values in your children when they are the most receptive to your voice. Don’t get me wrong, she absolutely meets you where spaghetti sauce stains and play dough smears into your rug, but she also encourages you to keep the larger picture in mind: these are future adults with hearts and souls who will one day impact the world, not robots for behavioral conformity purposes. If your kids are under the age of five and you are looking for opportunities to hide God’s truths in their hearts, then this is the book for you.
As someone who believes whole-heartedly that motherhood is not an excuse to let your life go to pot, I love that Jamie gives frazzled moms hope that you CAN thrive in this season, not just survive. Whether you have a Type A or a Type B personality, Jamie will supply practical solutions for rocking the motherhood gig. She teaches you to set realistic expectations for certain seasons (don’t try to run a half marathon when you have a newborn) and how to implement simple solutions for home management.
Doctor Harvey Karp is an American pediatrician and children’s environmental health advocate. In this book he breaks down toddlers into three types of temperaments: Easy or Happy, Shy or Slow To Warm Up, and Spirited). He teaches easy-to-implement methods on how to speak to your toddler in a way that will diffuse impending meltdowns, while also giving tons of strategies for how this works in public or at home.
Admittedly, his methods seemed silly at first, but I was so desperate to stop our 2-year-old’s screams and meltdowns that I gave it a try. You guys, it WORKS and when my husband began seeing the changes he began speaking “toddlerese” too. You really only need to read the first half of this book to really get the concepts and then the second half breaks things down into more specific scenarios. If you’re struggling to communicate with your toddler and having lots of frustrating meltdowns, give this book a try.
Written by Sally Clarkson and her son Nathan, Different is a book I think every parent needs to read, whether you have been handed a diagnosis or not. It is a beautiful story of an outside-the-box child and the mom who completely accepted him and loved him as he was. Written from both of their perspectives, you will find yourself laughing and crying at their brutal honesty and their heartwarming bond. Sally brings years of parenting wisdom to the table and her son Nathan shares his inner struggles and how his mother helped him succeed in a boxy world. For every mother who has a child they don’t understand, read this. You will walk away deeply motivated to find ways to celebrate your own children’s differences, teaching them to be them and not change for your convenience.
Bruce Feiler is the author of six consecutive New York Times nonfiction best-sellers and this book on drawing families closer together is one of them. In a refreshing twist, Feiler does not seek out psychologists or family experts for advice, but instead finds the most creative minds from Silicon Valley to the country’s top negotiators and asks for the problem solving techniques used in their own families. He then tests their methods out on his own family and shares the wisdom he gleans. Included is Warren Buffet’s guide to setting up a family allowance system (we followed his methods and we absolutely love it!), the Green Beret’s team-building exercises, the Harvard handbook for resolving conflict and so much more. I can’t stop talking about this book!
Looking for ways to include more books in your life?! Grab my 5 tips for organizing your life and increasing your reading time HERE.