Wednesday, July 21, 2010

7 Great Parenting Books that I'd Swear By

Before I tell you my 7 favorite parenting books, I feel like I have to describe my parenting style.

I believe babies can't be spoiled by too much holding or cuddling.
(Read: I think holding a baby is a good idea.)

I believe mommies can go crazy from too much holding and cuddling of the baby.
(Read: I think mommies and daddies need a break from babies occasionally, no matter how cute and sweet and perfect they are - even more so if they are colicky or fussy or bad nappers.)

I believe that no baby ever died from crying, assuming the parent was giving the baby his or her basic needs like food, shelter, medical care, and physical touch.
(Read: I am okay with the Cry-It-Out method)

I believe that the strongest influence on babies and children is how they are treated in the long run by their immediate families.
(Read: I don't think things like cribs, pacifiers, and bottles do anything to hinder a close relationship between parents and their children.)

I believe that babies' most important need is love.
(Read: Babies don't care if they wear Gap or Garanimals. They don't feel a difference between Costco and Chicco strollers. They don't *need* expensive things.)

I believe that children need to hear "no" and feel diappointment from time to time.
(Read: children learn how to manipulate their parents faster than we'd like to believe. And sometimes they're smarter than us. So we need to get on top of that, like, yesterday.)

Okay, so, now that I've given you the disclaimer about my parenting style, here are 7 books that I have on my bookshelf that I have read many times each, and often given copies as gifts to new parents:

1. The Girlfriend's Guide to Pregnancy by Vicki Iovine

I read this book during my first pregnancy and I've never laughed so hard in all my life. Vicki Iovine tells the ugly truth in a way that makes us laugh at ourselves, because if we weren't laughing, we'd be crying our eyes out! I've read it so many times that the dog-eared pages have diet Coke and nipple cream stains on them.

2. Colic Solved: The Essential Guide to Infant Reflux and the Care of Your Crying, Difficut-To-Soothe Baby by Bryan Vartabedian, M.D.
I stumbled upon this book at the library while pregnant with Sally in 2007. I began to read it and, by chapter 2, I was shouting "YES! THAT WAS MY BABY!! WHY DIDN'T I KNOW THIS UNTIL MY 4TH CHILD?!?!?!" I can NOT emphasize enough how helpful this book was for me. If for no other reason, it helped me understand that infants who cry do cry for a reason and that reason wasn't me.

3. Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems by Richard Ferber, M.D.

Yes, I do the cry-it-out sleep method. And for anyone who's never done it, that doesn't mean to tell your baby "goodnight" and leave until the next morning. It helps babies go back to sleep on their own without needing to nurse or be held or rocked. You will give yourself the biggest gift of all if you can help your child get to sleep on his or her own.

4. 1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12 by Thomas W. Phelan, Ph.D.
I think this book empowered me to quit giving in to the whining that my kids did for everything from a snack to computer time to juggling knives. The instructions are so easy to follow and the kids really catch on quickly how it works.

5. Taming the Spirited Child: Strategies for Parenting Challenging Children Without Breaking Their Spirits by Michael Popkin, Ph.D.

If you have ever found yourself with a child who you love and resent, all at the same time, you've been inside my head. My son, Linus, has an amazing personality: full of smiles, always ready for fun, friendly and polite to adults, and a loving big brother to his 2 younger sisters. He's also the first one to break the rules, throw a tantrum, or get into a dangerous situation. I wanted to learn how to help him set his own limits for safe and appropriate behavior, and this book showed me how.

6. Professionalizing Motherhood: Encouraging, Educating, and Equipping Mothers At Home by Jill Savage (founder of Hearts at Home).

I remember asking my sister, after Peppermint Patty was born, "Now what do I do?" This book, written from a Christian vantage point, was my beginner's guide for how to be a Stay-At-Home mom. It gives ideas and drives self-reflection about our new role as mothers. It helped me remember that besides caring for the kids, I need to care for my marriage, myself, and my relationship with God. There are questions at the end of each chapter and a leader's guide in the back, so you can read it with a group of moms and work together.

7. Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining, and Bad Attitudes... in You and Your Kids by Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller

A friend of mine who has calm, quiet, non-barbarian children recommended this book to me. I had my doubts, but it really does teach families how to treat each other with honor. That is the focus of the book: honor. Again, this book uses biblical principles as the basis of a value system, so if you're not Christian this book might not be the best fit for your family. But I would encourage anyone, Christian or not, to try this book because I have seen a big change in my kids and how they treat each other (even when I'm not looking but I am listening... it makes me tear up just thinking about it.)

I could probably make a list just as long about all the books I've read that I think are a bunch of bunk. But, really, what good would that do? My parenting style works for me, and my family, and I think it's right. Other parenting styles aren't necessarily wrong, just wrong for my family. So, if you have any other books on parenting that you think I should read, I'd love some suggestions. (Just as long as I don't have to grow my own organic garden or wear my baby 23 hours a day. I'm just sayin'.)

Texan Mama


mama hall said...

LOVE this list! I'm always looking for good books to give New Moms. And I really like {and agree with} your disclaimer. I think the most important thing you need to survive parenthood is an OPEN MIND!

Helpful & fun post :)

Gigi said...

Apparently we have the exact same approach to parenting! Learned the hard way of course....I've never heard of these books, but have two baby showers coming up - am thinking they'll make great gifts.

Jennifer said...

I've tried to read parenting books, but I just couldn't get into them. I did like The Happiest Baby on the Block. Tons of good recommendations for calming your baby and getting him/her to sleep. I did read the Girlfriend's Guide and I liked it. I also like Jenny McCarthy's book. I thought it was a really honest take on being pregnant. I haven't read the second one though.

My friend wrote a spoof called, The Unexpected When You're Expecting ( and it is hilarious.

Free Gal said...

Howdy from NC, originally from Texas! Saw another fellow Texan on Blog Frog and HAD to come say Howdy. :)

I'm a follower!

Anna See said...

We loved 1-2-3 Magic!

I think I could use that last book to help me get an attitude adjustment. I'm one grumpy gal.

Christy said...

Great list! I loved the "Girlfriends Guide" when I was preggo! Stopping by from #31DBBB and Kirtsy :) I'm a Texan Mama too!

Twitter @aidenscross

Sturgmom said...

I highly recommend Shepherding a Child's Heart by Ted Tripp.

anymommy said...

Love the list, I need to read 123 magic, I had forgotten about it.

I would add "How to Talk so Your Children Will Listen and Listen so Your Children Will Talk," and "Siblings Without Rivalry." Loved them both. (Same author.)