Parenting is hard.
Most of us are not equipped with the necessary tools to become good parents.
We sometimes think that there’s something magical or mystical that occurs when we grow up, get married, get pregnant, and start having babies.
But there’s no instruction manual.
There is so much information out there – in books, magazines, blogs…written by professionals and moms.
And some of it is so, so wrong.
I did lots of things wrong for so many years.
My three younger kids thankfully don’t remember much of the bad when I was desperately trying to find myself, discover what I believe, and learn my purpose as a mother.
Unfortunately, so many books, articles, and blogs are written by Christian parents and professionals go against the teachings of Jesus and the very core of my gentle soul. They teach harshness, physical punishment, isolation, shaming, blaming, abuse. These misguided Christians claim that blind immediate unconditional obedience is the only goal for parenting. Too many Christians confuse original sin with every baby being born bad or evil.
I beg to differ.
The goal of parenting is relationship. The goal of parenting is raise empathetic adults. The goal of parenting is to raise kind and loving people.
Children are never bad.
It is a parent’s role to model self-control, kindness, love, and those other traits that are important to your traditions.
I know many adults who are hurting. We hurt because of the harsh way we were raise. We hurt because we were spanked or neglected or shamed. We struggle with addiction and anger and anxiety and depression now because we lost who we were, who we were meant to be. We lost our child selves.
We have to heal our own hurts in order to parent respectfully and with kindness and with love.
At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:1-4
Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” And he laid his hands on them and went away. Matthew 19:13-15
It is possible to parent without hitting or raising your voice or having control. It is possible to discipline with love and respect and relationship. It takes a lot of work. It’s really hard. We have to address our triggers and immaturity. We have to look at children as people and not as less-than because they’re small and easily controlled.
These are some of my favorite respectful parenting books that have helped me with my kids.
- Jesus, the Gentle Parent: Gentle Christian Parenting by LR Knost
- The Continuum Concept: In Search Of Happiness Lost by Jean Liedloff
- NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children by Po Bronson
- Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers by Gordon Neufeld
- How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber
- Raising An Emotionally Intelligent Child by John Gottman
- The Highly Sensitive Child: Helping Our Children Thrive When The World Overwhelms Them by Elaine N. Aron
- Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids by Kim John Payne and Lisa M. Ross
- Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverted Kids by Susan Cain
- Quiet Kids: Help Your Introverted Child Succeed in an Extroverted World by Christine Fonseca
- Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason by Alfie Kohn
- The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Proven Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind by Daniel J. Siegal and Tina Payne Bryson
- Positive Parenting: An Essential Guide by Rebecca Eames
- Elevating Child Care: A Guide To Respectful Parenting by Janet Lansbury
- Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting by Laura Markham
- Untigering: Peaceful Parenting for the Deconstructing Tiger Parent by Iris Chen
- Under Pressure: Rescuing Our Children from the Culture of Hyper-Parenting by Carl Honore
- Parenting Forward: How to Raise Children with Justice, Mercy, and Kindness by Cindy Brandt
- UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World by Michelle Borba
- Raising Good Humans: A Mindful Guide to Breaking the Cycle of Reactive Parenting and Raising Kind, Confident Kids by Hunter Clarke-Fields
These are some of my favorite books for raising strong girls. I have three daughters and I feel it’s important to address some of the unique issues that girls face. I also want to counter some issues I had growing up.
- Reviving Ophelia by Mary Piper
- Girls on the Edge: Why So Many Girls Are Anxious, Wired, and Obsessed–And What Parents Can Do by Leonard Sax
- Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls by Rachel Simmons
- The Curse of the Good Girl: Raising Authentic Girls with Courage and Confidence by Rachel Simmons
- Do You Think I’m Beautiful?: The Question Every Woman Asks by Angela Thomas
- Cycle Savvy: The Smart Teen’s Guide to the Mysteries of Her Body by Toni Weschler
- Untangled, Under Pressure, Get Out of My Life by Lisa Damour
- Queen Bees and Wannabes, 3rd Edition: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boys, and the New Realities of Girl World by Rosalind Wiseman
These are on my reading list about boys. I have a young son. I want to raise him to be a sensitive and loving man. I haven’t enjoyed the evangelical Christian pseudo-psych books about boys because I feel they perpetuate toxic masculinity.
- Boys Adrift: The Five Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men by Leonard Sax
- Masterminds and Wingmen: Helping Our Boys Cope with Schoolyard Power, Locker-Room Tests, Girlfriends, and the New Rules of Boy World by Rosalind Wiseman
- Raising Boys to Be Good Men: A Parent’s Guide to Bringing up Happy Sons in a World Filled with Toxic Masculinity by Aaron Gouveia
- Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys by Dan Kindlon and Michael Thompson
- Strong Mothers, Strong Sons: Lessons Mothers Need to Raise Extraordinary Men by Meg Meeker
- Decoding Boys: New Science Behind the Subtle Art of Raising Sons by Cara Natterson
- Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Parenting teens can be a challenge but oh, so wonderful! These are my favorite resources. I taught high school and college for 10+ years and teens are really amazing. I’m coaching my teen daughter now into adulthood and it’s so exciting! If you don’t listen when they’re little, they won’t talk when they’re teens.
- How to Talk So Teens Will Listen and Listen So Teens Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens by Sean Covey
- Boundaries with Teens: When to Say Yes, How to Say No by John Townsend
- Smart but Scattered Teens: The “Executive Skills” Program for Helping Teens Reach Their Potential by Richard Guare, Peg Dawson, Colin Guare
- How to Raise an Adult by Julie Lythcott-Haims
- The Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults by Frances E. Jensen and Amy Ellis Nutt
- Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain by Daniel Siegal
- Your Teenager Is Not Crazy by Jeramy and Jerusha Clark
- Between Form and Freedom: Guiding Teenagers Through the Dangerous Years by Betty Staley
Books to help families navigate social media and the Internet. It’s a brave new world. We need to be aware of the dangers and set limits. I don’t agree with overmonitoring and controlling, but we need to help and guide and coach.
- Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other by Sherry Turkle
- Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age by Sherry Turkle
- Glow Kids: How Screen Addiction Is Hijacking Our Kids – and How to Break the Trance by Nicholas Kardaras
- Screenwise by Devorah Heitner
- The Art of Screen Time: How Your Family Can Balance Digital Media and Real Life by Anya Kamenetz
- Raising Humans in a Digital World: Helping Kids Build a Healthy Relationship with Technology by Diana Graber
- The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in Its Proper Place by Andy and Amy Crouch
- Wired Child: Reclaiming Childhood in a Digital Age by Richard Freed
- It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens by Danah Boyd
- iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy–and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood–and What That Means for the Rest of Us by Jean M. Twenge
- The Happiness Effect: How Social Media is Driving a Generation to Appear Perfect at Any Cost by Donna Freitas
May we all strive to be the best parents to our children that we can be.
View all my book lists here.
Read my parenting articles here.