Since I’ve become a mom, I’ve read just about every parenting book I can get my hands on. Most of them are forgettable. A few, I’ve yelled at because they are just plain wrong. But here are three parenting books that I’m glad I read:
The Whole-Brain Child by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson
With specific strategies for helping kids integrate their left (logical) and right (emotional) brains and their “upstairs” (rational thinking) and “downstairs” (fight, flight, freeze) brains, this book had me hooked from the start. The authors go on to suggest ways to help kids process memories (even traumatic ones) into the stories of their lives, to help them see the many parts of their personality, and to develop empathy by looking at things from someone else’s perspective. In addition to the information for parents, there are pages with little comic strips that you can share with your kids. I shared the pages on “upstairs” and “downstairs” brain with my daughter (age 7), and she grasped the concept immediately. If nothing else, this gives us a common vocabulary to use when talking about behavior—and she loved the idea of me sharing something that I learned in my “grown up” book with her. Definitely worth a read (especially for parents of kids who have experienced early trauma).
Nutureshock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman
This one is not at all parent-specific, and I would have read and appreciated it as a teacher (and a lover of sociological research—aka a dork!) before I became a mom. Nurtureshock basically challenges the traditional understanding of “what’s good for kids.” With chapters on praise (too much), sleep (too little), talking about race (way too little—at least for white parents), gifted programs (too many), and play (too little) among other topics, this book just about covers it all. It will definitely give you something to think about.
Minimalist Parenting by Christine Koh and Asha Dornfest
I thought this might be a book about whittling toys for your kids and extreme couponing (ain’t nobody got time for that!). Instead, it’s a quick read that gives modern mamas permission to do what works for your family. It’s all about getting rid of things that you don’t need (expectations, obligations and possessions) to make room for the ones that you love. After reading this, I tried out the authors’ suggestion of making a “More and Less List.” It’s a simple way to start thinking about saving time, energy and money for the things that matter.
And, as promised, here’s my bonus recommendation:
Freedom of Simplicity by Richard J. Foster
Y’all know I love Richard Foster, right?! In this book, Foster goes through models of simplicity in the Old Testament, the New Testament and Christian tradition before laying out some suggestions for how to embrace simplicity today. Not a parenting book in the traditional sense of the word (though I have struggled with the weight of “too much” more as a mom than ever before), this one is the best of the bunch… a must-read, people, a must-read!
What parenting books (traditional or otherwise) are you glad you’ve read?