Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Seven Most Influential Parenting Books

I know that parenting books can be a bit controversial and that one day the "in" book is telling you to do one thing and the next day another "in" book is telling you to do the opposite, but as new parents we are naturally going to want to do some of our own research. We want advice that doesn't come from our close circle of friends and family. This is why I have decided to share the most influential parenting books for us so far. Do the hubster and I now have all the answers? No way! But we do feel a lot more confident parenting our own child after reading these books. Every child is unique, so I can't guarantee that these will work for your kiddos, but these certainly are coming in handy for us. 

Influenced our parenting:
Image via Amazon

The Baby Sleep Book: The Complete Guide to a Good Night's Rest for the Whole Family by William Sears, Martha Sears, Robert Sears, and James Sears 

This book was so pivotal for us as it reassured us that what we were doing was ok. It also came in handy each time we were feeling like we'd had enough and wanted to give up and do some kind of sleep training plan. The Dr. Sears' reminded us that what we were going through was just a phase and that there were other steps to take rather than jump to major sleep training, especially when Micah was under a year old. It especially provides a different perspective from some of the more popular sleep related books.

Image via Amazon

The Vaccine Book: Making the Right Decision for Your Child by Robert W. Sears

Unfortunately we didn't hear of this book until Micah already had most of his vaccines, but I feel way more educated and ready to make informed decisions with the next child. I know that this topic is extremely polarizing, but I truly believe in research and being able to make informed decisions and I am not going to believe that all vaccines are necessary or that all vaccines are bad. We may decide to delay a few, skip a few (understanding possible risks and consequences) and get a majority for our next kiddo. With this book and as many research based articles surrounding this topic, I believe that is our right. Let's not open a can of worms with this one. Unfriend us if you want, but really…I think we can be sensible and agree that things are good in moderation and with thorough research.

Image via Amazon

Baby-Led Weaning: The Essential Guide to Introducing Solid Foods - and Helping Your Baby to Grow Up a Happy and Confident Eater by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett (even though I never read it!)

So technically we did not read this book, but our Starting Solids parent educator did and so we gleaned the heart of the book and it has fabulous advice! Essentially it convinced us that you do not need to buy into the whole baby food industry. There are so many reasons why baby led weaning is the way to go. Your child will learn that you are not a short order cook and that they can eat what everyone else is. They build amazing fine motor skills with trying to pick up their food and feed themselves. To top it all off, it saves you time and money! 

Image via Amazon

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck

This is a good one to read right before the crawling and walking phase, but especially for the more verbal toddler phase. What we say even at this young age will really determine our children's life successes based on our growth or fixed mindset related statements.  It is also important to think about which mindsets we adults have in order to ensure that what we are modeling for our kids matches our hopes and desires for their own growth. As they say, actions speak louder than words, yet in this case your words are your actions when developing your child's mindset.

Image via Amazon

Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood: Practical Parenting From Birth to Six Years by Jim Fay and Charles Fay

I love everything about this parenting philosophy. I have also read the Love and Logic for educators and have used it in my kindergarten classroom and it works wonders! It is a minimal tears approach to discipline. We have really powerful one liners like "we talk to people who use a calm voice like mine" and "feel free to ..." The power in Love and Logic comes from giving as many choices as you can so your child feels in control. We do lots of these especially at bedtime. "Do you want your sound machine on or off? Do you want the projector on or off? Do you want the covers on or off? Do you want to snuggle Mickey or Courdouroy tonight? Do you want to brush your teeth by yourself or do you want me to help? Do you want the polar bear Jammie's or the robot Jammie's?" It has been very helpful at the park or at playplaces as we don't just give a time warning, we give a choice about it "do you want to leave now or in two minutes?" We also use consistent language when we don't want Micah to do something. He gets one warning: "uh-oh!" Then if he continues the behavior we either take an item away or change his location (often his bedroom). If he starts crying we ask if he would like the door open or closed and then tell him to feel free to come out when he is ready to be nice (or ready to clean up the mess or whatever the issue was). We refer back to this book all the time as we often find ourselves slipping and forgetting to remain consistent or forgetting to give lots of choices. 

Image via Pathways to Family Wellness
Pathways Magazine:
This magazine gives insights on "pregnancy, intuitive birthing, gentle parenting, practical nutrition" along with social and environmental issues. We have enjoyed articles about babywearing, why you shouldn't sleep train your infant, and the importance of getting children out in nature. I am so fortunate that my chiropractors office gifts their patients with a subscription. Just as we do with any reading material, we do question some of the articles in terms of bias and we don't always agree with each statement; however, overall this magazine is a breath of fresh air and has a ton of research based articles that frequently get left out of mainstream media conversations.

Image via Amazon

Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting by Pamela Druckerman

I haven't even finished reading this one yet, but I couldn't help to list it here! I am only half way through and already the hubster and I have regrouped with our parenting plan. While reading so far, I've come to realize that our expectations for Micah didn't exactly match our actions, so we are adjusting (mostly around food expectations: when, what, and how much). It also really seriously makes me think a lot more about the whole sleep thing for the next time we have a child. Co-sleeping has kept us all pretty content although there was that little bout of maternal depression last year. The French tend to have their kids "doing their nights" by about 3-4 months old, which of course seems like polar opposite advice from the Dr. Sears Sleep Book, yet when reading this book you find out how both views are quiet similar and that the science of both make a lot of sense together. We really thought that we weren't reacting preemptively when Micah cried as an infant, but this book makes me think that indeed, we reacted way too early and were a bit overly sensitive to his cries without really thinking and determining the root causes. I am excited to read the rest of this book and would love to discuss with any of you who have also read it!

Photo courtesy of Papa/Dad/Jay

There you have it! Our seven most influential parenting "books" so far! What do you think? What books have been guiding lights to you on your path of raising children? The hubby and I are constantly reading books and articles to learn more and to continue to update and revise our parenting philosophy and the daily actions we take with Micah. We know we won't get it all right, but we certainly will do the best we know at the time and won't be afraid or embarrassed to do things differently with the next kiddo someday! Perhaps your guiding light did not even come from a book at all and instead was a piece of wisdom passed on by a relative, friend, or even a stranger. Please share!

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