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My Top 5 Favorite Books About Parenting

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Being a parent is one of the most rewarding life experiences a person can have. But let’s face it, it will also be the most challenging thing you’ll ever do. So much is at stake, but yet you receive little to no training before bringing your first baby home from the hospital. Thankfully there are some wonderful books out there to help new (and experienced) parents find their way. I have 9 children, 8 grandchildren and have been a nanny, soccer coach, room mom and den mother so many times I can’t keep count. Suffice it to say, I have spent a lot of time around kids, and even still I find myself stumped at times on how to deal with situations as they arise. These are 5 of the best books I have relied on for advice during my own parenting journey:

What to Expect When You’re Expecting” & “What to Expect the First Year (Gift Set) by Heidi Murkoff  These are the quintessential “how to” books for new parents. Offering month-by-month guides to milestones and common experiences along the pregnancy path, and throughout the first year of your child’s life. They provide answers to frequently asked questions, and address situations most parents will encounter. They also offer advice for less common issues. I think I was on my 4th child when I discovered these books, but still I read them cover to cover, and again with my later children. As a mom I was constantly asking myself, “Is this normal?” “Should I be worried about this, and do I need to call the doctor?” What age do most babies do that?” “Is my baby meeting the usual benchmarks?” “Am I doing ok as a mother?” These books became trusted references, and I found them both very empowering.

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish Do you sometimes feel like your kids are only hearing “blah, blah, blah” when you speak? And is it hard to get more than, “it was ok” out of them when you ask how school went that day? If so, you’re not alone, and this book may provide the answers you’ve been looking for. Within its pages you’ll find suggestions to help you foster cooperation, autonomy and self confidence in your children. You’ll learn how to praise without going overboard, and how to acknowledge and accept your kids’ thoughts and feelings as valid, even when they differ from yours. Our offspring are not miniature versions of ourselves, and one of the greatest joys of being a parent is watching them mature into their own unique personalities. We need to teach and train, but we also should seek to truly know them, and provide emotional safety so they will feel free to open up to us as parents.

Siblings Without Rivalry by Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish Another classic favorite from the same authors as the book above. Just when you think you finally are getting the hang of parenting, another child comes along and the dynamic changes completely. Not only are you dealing with them as individuals, but now your responsibility extends to helping them learn to share and live with each other as well. This book will remind you to avoid comparing, love and give to them each uniquely, and set standards for how you expect them to behave toward one another. Constant bickering can disrupt the peace of the entire family, so this book also addressing how to teach kids to resolve conflicts peacefully and encourage positive interactions.

Screamfree Parenting by Hal Runkel Remember when you first held your newborn? Your heart was bursting with love and wonder at this small bundle of perfection. You wanted to protect him from ever being sad or hurt. The idea that you could ever feel anger toward this cherub, much less yell (or dare I say scream) at her seemed preposterous. Then the baby got older, and sassier and learned to expertly push your buttons. It’s remarkable how a tiny toddler can bring out so much emotion in a full grown adult isn’t it? This book will help you begin to take full responsibility for your own actions and reactions, and learn how to stay calm so you don’t get sucked into arguments. It will teach you the importance of allowing children to make age appropriate decisions, and showing them that actions have consequences. These are some of the most important life skills we can pass on to our kids, that will carry with them into adulthood, once we adopt them ourselves first.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens by Sean Covey This book was actually written for teenagers to read themselves, but I include it in this list, because it gives parents a powerful insight into the stresses their teens are dealing with so they can understand and discuss them together. Every parent was at one time a teenager, but yet somehow we forget what it was really like, and the tendency can be to compare teen life to adult life and minimize what they are going through. Teens get a bad rap sometimes, but they actually are delightful. They are generally insightful, passionate and warriors for social justice. They also are insecure and moody as they navigate through becoming independent adults, while their hormones are all over the place. They need compassion and acceptance at home, as well as guidance. This book can provide many important talking points for parents.

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