Oh man this whole parenting thing is tough business isn’t it? Goodness I was quite the parenting expert before I had children and now I realize I have no idea what I am doing and I am pretty sure there are lots of you that feel the same way. Am I right?
I definitely worry am I doing too much? Am I not doing enough? Are the kids going to be happy as adults or need intense therapy? Are competitive sports pushing them too hard? Are we not pushing them enough? Is this the right school? Do I spend enough time with them? Am I helicopter parent? Yikes. I really have no idea.
So I do love to pick up the occasional parenting book to help me feel just a little smarter and just a little more capable at this whole Mom thing. I thought I might share a few of the books that I have found helpful in my journey and I would love to hear if you also have recommendations!
I often find self help books to be a little dry. I am not going to pretend any of these books below are super page turners. This isn’t John Grisham by any stretch but if I walk away with at least one solid takeaway for my Mom toolbox, I feel like it was worth the time invested.
So here goes:
How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and How to Listen So Kids Will Talk
I read this awhile back in a parenting Bible study group and did get some valuable insights. Some of the book is silly like the scripted sample conversations with your child. I think if you get past the cheesiness of the examples and really listen to what the authors are saying it is practical and valuable. One of my biggest takeaways from this book was to stop trying to fix problems that come up or diminish a child that is upset about something I think is dumb. Sometimes good parenting can be just validating the child’s emotions. I learned to look at things from both sides in this book too.
This isn’t just a parenting book, it is really personal development for everyone, but I got so much good stuff out of this book. I did find it dragged a bit and spent a lot of time convincing me to change my Mindset (I am convinced already just tell me HOW for goodness sake!) but you will be glad you finished it in the end.
The book deals with having a growth mindset versus a fixed mindset and how ultimately that helps people achieve success in life. I have one child with a growth mindset and one with a fixed mindset and I am glad I read this book and can recognize that. I didn’t get as much concrete advice to change her mindset as I would have liked but I am glad to be aware of the problem and can now put in place some of the suggestions in the book.
This author and these concepts are frequently cited on parenting podcasts, articles and books so this for sure is a great book to read.
I haven’t read the other books from this author and I did see many people comment that some of his other books were more helpful than this one. (Check them out here ) I found this book fairly quick to get through and I did get some solid takeaways. Basically this book is a great follow up to Mindset as it talks a bit more about raising a child that is open to new things and resilient. One of my favorite ideas from this book is to add a “yet” to any negative statements a child might make. For example, “I am never going to get this math homework!” Change that statement around to be “I haven’t figured out this math homework yet.” It completely changes the way a child will look at an obstacle.
The Five Love Languages of Children
I resisted the original Five Love Languages book for many years because it just seemed cheesy to me and overly touchy feely and just not my thing. I finally picked it up one day and I thought the information presented really did make sense. It was very helpful to me in understanding myself and what makes me happy and also in relating to my husband specifically for a stronger marriage. I spotted this kid version of the book at the library many months ago and instantly grabbed it. It is also pretty quick to get through and I think it just makes sense. The author walks you through five different ways people might feel loved- verbal affirmations, physical touch, acts of service, receiving gifts, or quality time. Once you figure out which one best fits your child, you can focus on showing your love for them via the language they best respond too.
So a simple example of this is let’s say a Dad wants to do something nice for his wife that has a newborn and has been exhausted and overwhelmed. On Saturday morning, does he get up early and mow the lawn and clean the kitchen? (acts of service), surprise her with a Latte and fresh bakery croissant for breakfast? (gifts), tell her how lucky he is to be married to her and what an amazing mother she is? (verbal affirmations), tell her his entire weekend is clear and they can do anything she wants (quality time) or cuddle next to her while the baby is napping (physical touch). Each of those things are nice gestures but a person will respond more strongly to one over the other options. So why not make an effort to focus on the language that speaks the loudest to your loved one and see if your relationship is stronger. It all makes a lot of sense and I will absolutely say I notice a difference in my strong willed child specifically when I am really focusing on her love language (verbal affirmations).
I hope you find some of these books helpful and I also wanted to share a few other recommendations that I haven’t actually read but that are on my to read list.
(Same author as the Yes Brain but this one was recommended several times in the online reviews)
Bless my children’s hearts but they are seriously whispering and giggling in a corner melting my heart or I intervene just as one is about to hurl the other down the stairs. This is on my to read list. 😉
The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families
I loved the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People many, many years ago but this one I can’t believe I haven’t picked up. There is also a kid specific or teen specific version that you might want to check out.
I would like Brene Brown to move from Texas to California and live right next door to me and be my best friend and we can have coffee every single morning on the porch as she helps me muddle my way through life and says smart and funny things in her cute southern accent.
While I wait for her to pack, I dig my way through her books. I have read three of five of her books and need to get through this one next. This isn’t specifically a parenting book but the stuff Brene Brown shares does make you a better human being and I always get so much out of her messages.
Gah! Confidence! I am always so worried my girls aren’t going to be confident in themselves and will cave to peer pressure, be afraid to try new things, become mean girls… so stressful to raise confident girls these days. I hope this one has the secret sauce.
This is a picture book that shows all sorts of girls doing things they love from art to dance to sports and is a great message for young girls that they don’t need to look or act a certain way to be beautiful. Strong is the new pretty. 🙂 Great one to look through after you finish The Curse of the Good Girl.
How to Win Friends and Influence People
I read this book about once a year because it is just so good. It isn’t a parenting book for sure but I really love to be reminded of how to effectively communicate with other people. The key I usually get from Dale Carnegie is LISTENING instead of talking and I think a lot of the content in this book absolutely relates to becoming a better parent.
Charlene, thanks for posting this wonderful curation of books. I’m done raising my kids–I wish some of these titles were available in the 80’s..lol! But now I’m looking forward to being involved in the lives of grandkids as these books bring new and old wisdoms to the table.
Emmy – yes I might be a more balanced person if my parents had some of these books 😀 Funny how even Grandparents don’t always have the answers either. For sure check out the Love Languages one.. If you can’t get through the book, I just discovered Happier with Gretchen Rubin’s podcast episode #80 (I think) – discusses them in depth. Your family is lucky to have you 🙂