Give a man a parenting book and he’ll use it as a footstool. Teach a man to parent, he’ll tell you to bugger off and get lost…
OK. That’s pretty grime. That’s why I choose blogging instead of becoming a family counselor. I get to keep my book on the shelf and no one gets to tell me where to go.
Granted, this is my top 10 most important books for parents which might not happen to be yours but… they are edifying, entertaining, and extremely insightful, even if you don’t happen to agree with all that’s being said.
Well, I don’t happen to agree with all of it either. But trust me, you will be much better equipped as a mom (or dad), by leaps and bounds, by the time you finish even one book on this list.
I can prove it by my not-so-frazzled hair and brain and the conspicuous lack of dark circles under my eyes. So there.
This post contains affiliate links. See end of post for detail.
|#1||Children: The Challenge : The Classic Work on Improving Parent-Child Relations--Intelligent, Humane & Eminently Practical (Plume)
Hard to dismiss a book with a grand title like this. In truth, this book embraces a shockingly simple idea that seems counter-intuitive to most parenting methods: do less. Let's wait and see.
For the most part, I agree that many parents actually do way too much to muck things up when trying to teach or "discipline" their children. The so-called "teachable" moments are drowned out by too many words and too much emotion. Another valuable take-away from the author is the secret of keeping one's words. Vain and unenforceable threats don't straighten out unwanted behavior. If you read nothing else, read this book.
|#2||The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change
The perennial "life book" that everyone at any age should and ought to read. Now that you are a mommy or daddy, you definitely must read. Many problems that we imagine we have with others are actually a misguided effort on our part to change something we shouldn't involve ourselves in to begin with. If you like a shortcut, here's a tip: read the first three habits and be prepared for a "paradigm shift" --- a nerdier term for a change in perspective.
|#3||Don't Shoot the Dog!: The New Art of Teaching and Training
No, Virginia, this is not a parenting book. Yes, I know.
You'll be amazed at how many parallels you can draw from training an animal versus training a child (though I know some would readily agree that training an animal is much less arduous.) The book focuses on training with reinforcement, rather than using punishment, or even rewards! You've got to read it to believe it. A hearty 5-star recommendation for trainers of ornery children, spouses, and monkeys.
|#4||1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 212
parents - drama - words + [counting to 3] + timeout = compliant and happy children
OK. Maybe not that simple. But perfecting the art of administrating age-appropriate timeouts and practicing the simple techniques in this book will save you tons of tears, heartaches, and definitely breathes. When you take the emotions out of parenting, it's truly magical how much more you can accomplish with your kids and somehow still keep the peace in the family. This book shows you how.
|#5||Secrets of the Baby Whisperer: How to Calm, Connect, and Communicate with Your Baby
Just to read the section on how to properly put your baby to sleep in this book is worth every penny, particularly in those early years of new parenthood. Once I've gotten my first taste of having to drag myself to work the next morning after enduring a grueling 10-hour marathon of crying, cooing, rocking, more crying, screaming, (did I mention crying?) sprinkled with a handful of fitful "sleep", I've become a firm believer in sleep deprivation as a torturing device. I was dumb enough to wait more than a year to pick up this book. (Well, as it turned out, it was the lack of sleep, not the dumbness that caused me to act slowly.) I was not disappointed. One year of bad habits (mismanagement on the parent side, I must confess) were fixed in one short week. Phewww... baby whisperer quite literally saved my sanity.
|#6||The Happiest Baby on the Block
We've learned to swaddle one of our children from this book, supposedly to help them feel safer and sleep longer because it simulates the natural habitat that they've been in for 9 long months before they were rudely evicted and thrust out into the world. Well, I said "one of our children" because the first one refused to be swaddled and demanded her limbs to be freed of encumbrance, the better to express her displeasure by energetically flailing her arms at us with. But... it worked like magic for the second one. Slept through the night as an infant. Never a midnight feed with her. So... if one method does not work well, do not dismiss the whole book. Try it on your second one, your third one... your seventeenth one. You get the idea.
|#7||The Happiest Toddler on the Block: How to Eliminate Tantrums and Raise a Patient, Respectful, and Cooperative One- to Four-Year-Old: Revised Edition
Yes, same guy who wrote "The Happiest Baby on the Block." I like the guy. What can I say?
The most important concept I picked up from this book is that my toddler is not a "miniature child" but is in fact, a little "caveman." Armed with that fact, my perspective changes (or as Stephen Covey would say, I had a "paradigm shift. See, I told you I'm a nerd.)
No more attempts at pleadings appealing to their conscience (not developed fully yet), emotional wrangling appealing to their sympathies (too self-centered to care), long-winded lectures appealing to their sense of reasoning (hello?). Little "cave-kids" need a different set of instructions and style of communication. Read and be enlightened, people.
|#8||How to Talk So Kids Will Listen
Where there are humans, there are conflicts. This is a fact of life. However, learning to communicate frustrations and to work out problems together is the key to a peaceful household. The cliché, "it's not what you say, it's how you say it" holds so true still in a our day-to-day contact with others who inevitably would either offend us or be offended by us. The same message, communicated in different ways could solicit instant trust and cooperation, touch off Word War III, or still more insidiously, invoke pure contempt and disregard.
The plenteous anecdotes, cartoons, and exercises make it that much more of a light and easy read.
|#9||Setting Limits with Your Strong-Willed Child, Revised and Expanded 2nd Edition: Eliminating Conflict by Establishing CLEAR, Firm, and Respectful Boundaries
Even if you don't think you have a strong-willed child, you would not want to miss one of the most important concepts in interpersonal relationships: boundary-setting.
Boundaries set the tone and expectations for the course of the relationship. Much like in national security, a porous border is detrimental to our safety; a porous boundary invites those whom you love and care for to walk all over you. Boundary is as crucial to the health and success of your relationship with your child (and your spouse, and your friends, and your boss, and your coworkers, etc...) as love and forgiveness are. Sadly and disturbingly, boundary-setting is conspicuously missing in many families that I have come to observe. These families then proceed to engage in endless power struggles, with each member taking his or her part in a destructive cycle that the author called "the family dance."
There are many causes to bad family relations. But few are as fundamental and common as the lack of boundaries. Kids or sans kids, read this book and you will find yourself in a much better position when dealing with another human being.
|#10||Siblings Without Rivalry: How to Help Your Children Live Together So You Can Live Too
Same ladies, same great styles. If you have more than one child and they don't ever fight, this is not the book for you. Assuming that most of us have "monsters" for children and they do fight and bite, this is the book for you.
Watching too many contentious relationships between siblings manifesting themselves as full-blown scramble over their deceased parents' household items and personal effects (valuable or otherwise, in monetary or sentimental terms notwithstanding) first drove me to uncover the root cause of their conflict and decidedly made my mind up on not ever allowing that sort of problem to take root in my own home. I know it's kind of a weird starting place for a would-be-parent but then again, I'm a little off the beaten path. (More on that later.)
Raising your children to love and respect each other is not a pipe dream and is highly doable. I am full of hope after I've read this book.
If you decide to make a purchase through my link, Amazon will pay me a commission for it. This doesn’t cost you anything extra. These commissions help to pay the bills and keep the blog around longer. I only link to vendors/ products that I trust. It doesn't change my opinions or affect how I write in any way shape or form, except for this painfully inelegant disclosure that I need to insert before and after the post. I thank you for spending time here and supporting me, monetarily or otherwise! Cheers!