I have been doing a lot of reading about how to be a better parent for a while. Something to keep in mind is this quote:
Each of these books have taught me something new about how I parent, and some way to consider how I am behaving toward my kids that will help them become their best selves, too. These are in no particular order.
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This book has completely changed my outlook on attachment, and peer-driven behaviors. When kids are little, they love to please their parents because they have a secure attachment. But then, somehow, these kids only want to be with their friends, and it’s so uncool to be around their parents. That’s when the problems begin. This book helped me understand how kids who are peer-oriented fall into behavior traps, like substance abuse, bullying, addictive behaviors, etc. I also learned that things as simple as “collecting” our kids when they come in the door restores their trust in us, and helps reestablish a good relationship. I love this book! If there were an order to this list, it would be number one.
This book sounds kind of new-age-y, or mystical from the title, but there is nothing mystical about mindfulness and being present. Our children need us to understand them. What we need to understand is that the things our kids do that trigger us are not their fault, and if we can pause and recognize that our triggers are our own, we would not be so hard on them. So much of how we react stems from our own shame, or past injuries. I have heard that Dr. Shefali’s other books are just as amazing, and I plan on reading them, too!
Not the typical parenting book. This book is about how we excuse the way we treat people by making justifications for our behavior. We say to ourselves, “they would have done the same” or “they don’t deserve this” and we basically dehumanize them because of our own limitations. This book is full of truth about relationships, and peace. The sequel is just as good: Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box.
Amazing book on communication and allowing our kids to open up by giving them the freedom to talk! So many great tips and ideas for talking to our kids. Talking is so important to that attachment I was telling you about from the first book, Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers, because they need to know we can be trusted. I’m not just talking about the kind of trust where you don’t divulge their secrets. I’m also talking about the kind of trust where they can feel vulnerable, open up, and not be judged or ridiculed. That’s what our kids need from us.
Since I have discovered Carol Tuttle’s energy profiling, I have been amazed by how accurate it is. I love these kinds of things that teach me about personalities, and why people are who they are. This book has helped me understand myself, and why my kids act the way they do. For instance, my son is a strong Type 4, which means he like to be in control of his stuff, doesn’t like to share, likes to be in charge of his time, and doesn’t like to feel ignorant. This really helps me understand why he gets so upset when his brother takes from him, or why he is possessive, or why he doesn’t like to be told what to do. I have to tell him to take charge of himself, and get gratification from his independence.
As you know, I interviewed Carol Danaher of the Ellyn Satter Institute, and we talked about how important it is to have a good relationship with food with our kids. I cannot recommend this enough! Kids are falling into traps of the food and body image industry, and we aren’t helping by ordering them to clean their plates, or don’t eat so much candy! There is a feeding relationship, and each have roles. The parents’ role is to decide where, what, and when to eat. The child’s role is to decide if, and how much. We can help them by not labeling our food as good or bad. Just enjoy your food, and listen to your body.
This is the explanation why less is more. Les is more! Too much stuff is overstimulating, and distracting. Too much in your schedule does not allow for space to play and have unstructured time. So much anxiety stems from our over scheduled, busy lives. A close second to this one would be The Opposite of Worry: The Playful Parenting Approach to Childhood Anxieties and Fears, because with our over-crazy lives, we forget to slow down and give our kids what they need. Disordered behavior stems from a personality trait traumatized by anxiety. For example, OCD stems from a kids who likes things clean but then experience trauma, so that cleanliness takes on a new form of disordered behavior. Slow down, clear out the clutter, don’t overstimulate, and allow space to be free.
I know this doesn’t look like a parenting book, but it is! I learned so much from this about how to mindfully manage my home, my family, and the issues that arise. I learned a lot about mindfulness and being present, too. I was seriously surprised by how much I got out of this book. I picked it up thinking it might help me with my assignment at church to lead the children’s organization, but I got so much more than that!
This is one of the books I always want to give at a baby shower because it is so great! I loved reading about how important it is to read-aloud to our kids, and how it has so many benefits.
I enjoyed this book because it helped me understand how to prepare a family mission statement. I would read this along with the classic First Things First and Roles: The Secret to Family, Business, and Social Success to help with figuring out where to place priorities, who who aught to fulfill what responsibilities.
This is not an exhaustive list. I still have MANY books on my list to read. But, so far, these are the ones I would say top the list. I’m sure I’ll think of more. For now, you can go see my list of favorite books, and books discussed on the podcast at homeandfamilyculture.com/books.