Wednesday, January 9, 2013

My Favorite Parenting Books

It feels so easy now.  The kids can still surprise me, and each one is different of course.  One, in particular, is especially noisy.  But mostly, I feel like I know what's coming, and how to handle it when it does.

It's easy for me to forget now how overwhelming it was to be expecting for the first time, and then to bring our baby home and feel like I had no idea how I could be supposed to know how to take care of this tiny person.



Do I look like I've got it together or what?
Update: The husband points out that this is not what our couch at the time looked like.  I do not know where we are or whose couch it is.  But I am asleep on it.
Fortunately I had plenty of help in the first days, but then, eventually, I was faced with that first day when my parents left and Jim was back in classes . . . and there we were, just the two of us.

But, I've always been a reader.  And I tried to prepare myself as best I could by reading.  Some books I liked more than others, and some have proven especially helpful over the ten years since the above photo was taken.


People have asked me to share my favorites, as recently as today (Hi, Kirsten!) so here they are, broken down by topic.  Clicking on the link will take you to Amazon*.


Pregnancy:

The Bradley Method is, for me, a really intuitive way to prepare for natural childbirth.  The first book is the theory, the second is the how-to.  A warning . . . the how-to book is chock-full of grainy 70s black and white photos of women in labor in various stages of undress.  I brought it on an airplane to read and got some strange looks from the guy in the seat next to me.



Newborns:
Both of these are pretty serious attachment parenting books.  I really needed to read books like these to get myself into the mindset of devoting myself to motherhood.  They are not for everyone, but they worked for me, and I still practice attachment parenting with my babies.

Babies:

When I get tired of attachment parenting, I turn to this book.  But seriously, I read other sleep books and had zero success with them.  This book is basically a 500 page pep talk to parents on how to manage to let your baby learn to sleep.  Some people do not like this technique, but it has been a huge blessing to our family.  It's the one book I still re-read with every baby.  If I only had one parenting book, it would be this one.

Discipline:

Raising good, happy kids is counter-cultural these days.  So, I'm careful where I get my advice.  Dr. Ray is especially great at building your confidence in your own "gut" as a parent.

Faith:

The first is a really lovely, practical guide on how to introduce the Catholic faith to children.  The second is more aspirational.  It was first published in 1957 and seemed not all that relevant to me when I first read it eight years ago.  (She has suggestions that include bread dough and chicken manure.)  But I have grown into it (I actually made bread dough for pizza tonight and for the past two years I have had access to chicken manure!)

Self-Improvement:

Neither of these is a parenting book per se, but both have made me a much more effective parent, by helping me become a better person.
  So, what do you think?  Have you read these, do you like them?  What did I miss?

* Full disclosure on the Amazon links: clicking on a title from any of my posts will take you to Amazon, if you buy that title (or anything else) after clicking through my blog I get a (very small) percentage. So far I have made . . . two cents. Literally two cents! Awesome.


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17 comments:

  1. I loved the books on Pregnancy, Newborns and Babies Kendra recommends.

    Natural Birth the Bradely Way was a life saver for me and allowed me to have our first daughter without any drugs (And no matter how pain tolerant you think you are, it really is hard not ask for drugs after 12 hours :)).

    We just pulled out the book Healthy Sleep Habits, Healthy Baby again as our 11 months daughter all of the sudden decided that bedtime wasn't for her anymore. Again, it is an incredibly resourceful and helfpul book that gives you different options. It allows me to parent the way I feel is right for our daughter but get helpful advice and suggestions.

    We are just moving on to the next book recommendation (around discipline) - I have heard the 2s are not quite as easy as the baby stage when it comes to parenting (had I heard this when we just came home with Marie, I would have laughed though. In my mind, anything would be better than the incredible amount of sleep deprivation and fear that I'll somehow break my baby).

    A big thank you to Kendra! Her advice and help has been incredibly helpful to me and our family - no matter if you have one child or eight children.

    Kirsten

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  2. I give my personal stamp of approval to all the books you've listed. Another book that I have found quite good, especially with older children, is "Hold on to your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More than Peers," by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate.

    I'm enjoying your new blog, Kendra!

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    1. Kendra, I'm playing major catch-up and just now started reading! I second Lisa's book recommendation regarding "Hold On To Your Kids". I have to say the Temperment book was helpful. Eventhough I realized I'm a major melancholic it did give Elliot the phrase, "Oh no, here's the melancholic dump" to use and sometimes it makes me laugh and take a step back. I definitely need to re-read that. :)

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    2. Thanks Lisa and Jeannie, I'll have to have a look at "Hold on to Your Kids." The Temperament book was a huge revelation to me. It was absolutely the first time I considered that not everyone in the world experienced things just like I did. (Yes, I do realize what that says about me :0) But it has been a great help to me in interacting with my family, friends, and Church Ladies.

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  3. Wow, you have an extremely handsome husband. Well done!

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    1. Why, thank you Anonymous. I'm sure the people you love are also very attractive.

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    2. Anonymous @10:29 is Jim, right?

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    3. That last reply was Mike. He likes your blog too! Abby

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  4. I'm also a big fan of Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. I think sleeping babies make happy mommies! Our schedule for our babies is not as strict now that our older kids are getting older (it's hard to get everything done and still be home for naptime), but we still love a regular bedtime for everybody! I also read and liked How to Really Love Your Child.

    A few other books I've enjoyed: Bringing Up Boys, by James Dobson, and A Return to Modesty, by Wendy Shalit. Both really gave me food for thought as my kids have gotten older.

    Thanks for all the great recommendations, Kendra. I'm excited to hit the library for some new bedtime reading. -Abby

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  5. Kendra,
    Great list. I've read and enjoyed Husband-Coached Childbirthby Dr. Robert Bradley, Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way by Susan McCutcheon-Rosegg (which I was reassuring Michael is the only thing we need to review for the second baby's birth), The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by Diane Weissinger, The Baby Book by Dr. William Sears, and Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Dr. Marc Weissbluth. The last one is a great constant reference as we progress through each age.

    A friend of mine recently asked for recommendations for parenting books, so I'm going to share your page with her. She was a great resource and recommended The Happiest Baby on the Block and her mom (another wonderful godly Christian woman) recommended Nursing Your Baby to her daughter and then her daughter recommended it to me. I actually preferred it the Womanly Art of Breastfeeding as it's very well written from a scientific perspective and gave great advice as opposed to anecdotal.

    On our "To read" list are Shepherding a Child's Heart and the Power of a Praying Parent.

    You and Jim look terribly young -- like still in college young -- though I know you were a smidge older than that. :-)

    Tonight I was able to put James to bed using Mike's routine, which results in James being still awake but looking forward to being left alone to sleep. It felt so good! -- Lisa

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    1. Thanks Lisa. Congratulations on number two, how exciting! That reminds me of some sibling book recommendations. Hmmm . . . maybe I'll write that up soon!

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  6. I know I am late to the party but I would love to add "A Mothers Rule of Life" by Holly Pierot. Such a transformative book on ordering your day and making time for all the good stuff. Xoxo

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  7. You have a beautiful family

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  8. Parenting with Grace by Dr. Gregory and Lisa Popcak is a GREAT resource, as well. Uses Theology of the Body in parenting style :)

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  9. I'm really enjoying your blog, and not just because you recommend all my own "must haves" ha. I especially enjoyed the comment made by anonymous above about your "handsome husband." And your response made me laugh out loud. Sounds like an "anonymous" comment that would be made by my husband on my blog. hahaha...still laughing!

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  10. I really love "Parenting with Grace, Catholic Parent's guide to raising almost perfect kids" by Dr Greg Popcak. LOVE that book, along with many others you recommend.

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  11. Your blog is always a treasure trove of useful ideas and tips!

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