This post was originally published on September 22, 2009.
If you've been reading here long, I don't have to tell you that I love books. Yet I seem to have a love/hate relationship with titles of the parenting genre.
Some have left me floundering and overwhelmed. On other occasions I find myself nodding vigorously and feeling uplifted, understood, and pointed in the right direction.
Today I'd like to pass along the top four parenting books that I've found the most helpful:
How to Really Parent Your Child by Ross Campbell
I love this book's subtitle: Anticipating What a Child Needs Instead of Reacting to What a Child Does. This read came into my life when I was trying to decipher what kind of parenting style I was going to pursue. I only wish I could have read it earlier (like before I had kids!).
My biggest takeaway was the concept of filling a child's "love tank." A child's negative behavior doesn't always mean he or she is making a "bad" choice; often the behavior is a signal to tell us something they need - like food, rest, attention, love, etc.
Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline by Becky Bailey
This book's title says it all. Loving my children, for the most part, comes naturally. But trying to figure out discipline is another story. I appreciated this author's take on using empathy with our kids and trying to see their side of situations.
Bailey also has a helpful section on development, in which she describes typical behaviors in children of various ages. I found this particularly useful - to see that the challenges I was struggling with were in fact common developmental stages, not necessarily anything unusual.
Grace-Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel
This book, written from a Christian perspective, encouraged me to cultivate an atmosphere of grace in our home. It further reinforced the importance of parenting my children the way God parents me - with tremendous love and a multitude of second chances.
The author says that in order to deliver grace to our children we must give them four freedoms: the freedom to be different, to be vulnerable, to be candid, and to make mistakes. Beautiful.
Playful Parenting by Lawrence J. Cohen
Sometimes as a mother I get stuck on "the rule" and miss out on the playful interaction that can help my children make good choices. Instead of just getting annoyed by frustrating behavior, use play to engage and work through challenges.
Cohen discusses the importance of meeting your child on his or her level, emotionally and physically (like playing on the floor). He also encourages a "Meeting on the Couch" with your child when frustrations arise - as an alternative to a "Time Out." (For the record, we do both of these at times, depending on the situation.)
It's so important to filter through the plethora of titles available to us and find authors coming from perspectives we connect with. These four books work for me as I try to create a joyful partnership with my little people. They have inspired and challenged me to stay on the road of intentional motherhood.
**What parenting books have most helped you?**