Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The 7 Best Parenting Books You'll Ever Read

I have a serious parenting book addiction. Every time I take my 6 kids to the public library, I end up drifting over the the parenting book section and checking out a few titles.

Now, it's extremely rare for me to buy books of any kind. I hardly ever do it. The library is free, after all. But I personally own these, because they're part of my permanent reference library on how to mom.

Disclaimer: The links on this page are affiliate links, which don't change the price of the book for you but I earn a small commission. Which I will undoubtedly use to buy more parenting books.

From a parenting book addict and mother of 6, these are full of concrete strategies and ideas that will change the way you think about parenting.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}


by Gordon Neufeld, Ph.D. and Gabor Maté, M.D.


This could be the most important parenting book ever, because today's commonly accepted image of a teenager is a surly kid locked in his room who can't stand talking to or being with his parents. This may be the norm now, but it's not normal.

What I Liked: I've always suspected something wrong with the idea that teenagers naturally and necessarily hate their parents. This book talks about a massive culture shift where this has become the status quo, but it's actually the devastating result of parents who've failed to preserve their kids' emotional attachment to them and been prematurely replaced by their kids' peers. Without attachment to their parents, kids' emotional growth is stunted and they become very difficult to raise.

This book tells you how to maintain a strong parent-child bond if you still have it, and how to repair it if you've lost it. It's a fascinating read that might make you completely change your mind about what kids and teens actually need to develop into healthy, mature adults.

This Book Is Perfect For Parents Who...

  • Are looking for ways to preserve or strengthen their bond with their kids of any age
  • Don't think their child respects them or their authority to parent
  • Have a spirited child
  • Have a distant or rebellious teenager
  • Feel alienated from their previously sweet child's life
  • Believe it's normal for teens to hate their parents and treat them badly


From a parenting book addict and mother of 6, these are full of concrete strategies and ideas that will change the way you think about parenting.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Simplicity Parenting

by Kim John Payne, M.Ed.


Despite my initial disappointment that this book was not about teaching your kids to levitate as the cover image led me to believe, this is one of the best parenting books I've ever read. 

What I Liked: The premise of the book is that many of our kids feel stressed and overwhelmed, and we don't even know it. Even if we do, we often don't know where to begin simplifying our hectic lives, overflowing playrooms, and jam-packed calendars. If you feel like a cat barely hanging onto a windowsill by its claws and your life is not what you imagined it would be, you need this book.

Payne says that stress can aggravate childhood quirks and even manifest itself as ADD, ADHD, or ODD, and many of these kids can be brought within the functional range through simplification and structure  which is especially interesting to me because I've been told by people who work in a school that one of my children could easily be labeled ADD without the structure we have at home.

This Book Is Perfect For Parents Who...
  • Are utterly stressed out by their lives, or suspect that their kids are
  • Feel overwhelmed by stuff/toys/clutter
  • Desperately wish there was a 'pause' button for life
  • Want to simplify but have no clue where to start
  • Have kids with diagnosed or suspected ADD, ADHD, or ODD

From a parenting book addict and mother of 6, these are full of concrete strategies and ideas that will change the way you think about parenting.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

How to Behave So Your Children Will, Too

by Sal Severe, Ph.D.


This is a must-read for every parent! Why do they not include a copy of this book in the swag bag of mesh undies and plastic peri-bottles they give new parents at discharge from the hospital?

What I Liked: It covers all aspects of how to increase positive behaviors and stop negative behaviors effectively. Most of us don't realize that the way we act or react to our kids might actually be making their behavior worse! Whether your children are terrible or pretty well-behaved, this book is amazing.

I found the book's tone easy to read and definitely not preachy (a common pitfall of parenting books.) Instead of just vague generalities and rules of thumb, there were concrete and specific strategies in every chapter to implement in your family right now to get your kids to behave better and feel like a nicer, calmer, more effective parent.

This Book Is Perfect For Parents Who...
  • Want their kids to cooperate the first time
  • Feel like they yell too much
  • Can't get their kids to listen to them
  • Keep running up against one or two ongoing "problem behaviors" they can't stop

From a parenting book addict and mother of 6, these are full of concrete strategies and ideas that will change the way you think about parenting.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Sleepless in America

by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka


When I first read this book, it turned me into a little bit of a sleep Nazi. Kurcinka says that there is a direct link between misbehavior and lack of sleep, and most kids aren't getting enough. 

What I Liked: The first great strength of this book is explaining how chronic exhaustion in kids can mimic a number of behavioral, attention, and learning problems. If you think about how you feel and behave after a bad night's sleep, you can see why. Funnily enough, kids who are exhausted have the hardest time getting (and staying) asleep, so the answer isn't as simple as just "putting them to bed."

Which brings me to the second great strength: it gets you thinking about creating a bedtime routine that works for you and actually gets your kids ready to sleep  not just in their rooms. When I think of my job as creating a relaxing atmosphere for falling asleep instead of just throwing them in bed by 8 PM, my kids come out fewer times after lights-out and sleep better. No one size fits all, so there are lots of concrete ideas for doing this to choose from in the book.

This Book Is Perfect For Parents Who...
  • Have crazy schedules
  • Have kids who seem to need less sleep than average for their ages
  • Have kids under 5 who no longer nap
  • Suspect their kids have ADHD (20% of overtired kids are misdiagnosed as ADHD)
  • Are evaluating their kids for learning disabilities
  • Have kids with behavioral problems

From a parenting book addict and mother of 6, these are full of concrete strategies and ideas that will change the way you think about parenting.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

The Parenting Breakthrough

by Merrilee Boyack


Notwithstanding the slightly creepy cover illustration and the nondescript title, this is really one of my favorites. It's written by an LDS (Mormon) mom, but is applicable to any parent — religious or not  who wants to raise children to become self-sufficient adults.

What I Liked: I'm glad I first read this book when my kids were young, because it helped me gain a longer-term vision for my family and start thinking about what our plan should be to get there. Basically, you aren't going to raise resourceful, self-sufficient, capable kids by accident. This book lays it all out with a timeline of what to do so they leave the house prepared for life on their own.

My kids pitch in at home and work harder than most kids I know, and sometimes before reading this book I wondered if it was too much. It validated to me that teaching life skills is an important part of my job description. This book was filled with down-to-earth, fantastic common-sense ideas that I haven't read anywhere else before.

This Book Is Perfect For Parents Who...
  • Want to teach their kids responsibility
  • Need help implementing chores at home
  • Aren't sure what skills are age-appropriate for kids
  • Don't think their kids are helping out enough at home
  • Lack a long-term plan for where their family is going

From a parenting book addict and mother of 6, these are full of concrete strategies and ideas that will change the way you think about parenting.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

by Diane E. Levin, Ph.D. and Jean Kilbourne, Ed.D.


I originally read this book back in 2010 with my tween in mind, and ended up getting more insights about my 4-year-old. An eye-opening must-read about marketing's effects on children for any parent, but especially parents of girls.

What I Liked: My mind was blown at the way this book connected the dots between the toddler/preschooler obsession with being pretty princesses, and those same girls becoming obsessed with looking hot and acting sexy when they're older. There's a similar thing happening with boys and violence. It made me think about the messages my kids get from the media and their toys, but it also made me look at advertising in a whole new way.

This book was filled with specific helps for parents on having healthy conversations with their kids about sex, limiting media, and not allowing "age compression" to make your kids grow up too fast. Sometimes the topic is depressing, but overall I came away empowered to make decisions that will help my kids just be kids for a little while longer.

This Book Is Perfect For Parents Who...
  • Worry about our oversexualized culture's impact on boys and girls
  • Don't want their kids to prematurely lose their innocence
  • Have daughters who are preoccupied with appearance
  • Need help talking to their kids about sex

From a parenting book addict and mother of 6, these are full of concrete strategies and ideas that will change the way you think about parenting.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

The Idle Parent

by Tom Hodgkinson


I've never read a book quite like this one, and that's saying something. It's more of a parenting manifesto than a parenting how-to book. There absolutely WILL be some parts you disagree with, but if nothing else, it's an amazing thought exercise that will change the way you think about parenting.

What I Liked: Mostly, I loved this book because it gave me permission to just chill out as a parent. The best parents are happy parents, which leads to happy children. While there's no one "right" way to raise kids, there are many good ways  and they usually require less effort than I think. All I really need to do is enjoy my kids, keep toys and TV to a minimum, and don't hover.

Quite frankly, Hodgkinson comes across sounding like an unpleasant know-it-all, but don't let that stop you from reading. Skip or skim over parts if you're rolling your eyes too hard, but it's great food for thought. My favorite quote: "We must resist the temptation to teach them that a remote-controlled robot is better than a twig." How can you not love a book that says that?

This Book Is Perfect For Parents Who...
  • Think they're not doing enough for their kids
  • Feel burnt out or don't enjoy being parents
  • Are overwhelmed with the amount of toys in their house
  • Wish they were happier
  • Think parenting and life are too complicated

Out of the dozens and dozens of parenting books I've read over the years, these are my 7 absolute favorites. Packed with insightful ideas and solid strategies, they've influenced the way I think about parenting, helped me understand my children and what they need, and made me a better, more effective mom.

From a parenting book addict and mother of 6, these are full of concrete strategies and ideas that will change the way you think about parenting.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

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15 comments:

  1. Wow, these sound really interesting! I've pretty much shied away from parenting books (except for Bringing Up Bebe-I love that book so much!!!!), but I might pick some of these up at my library sometime.

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    1. I think you'd fit in well with French parents. You seem like it.

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  2. One of your best articles. The structure was so good. The ideas and way to find what you are looking for is great. Some of these would have really increased my learning curve when parenting your husband and siblings!!

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    1. I think he turned out pretty good, with or without the books.

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  3. I think I need to visit your bookshelf!

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  4. Thank you for these recommendations! I love book recommendations. The only one I've heard of is the LDS one, but all of them touch on points I would love to get better at. I just picked up the one AnneMarie suggested. I highly recommend Glow Kids: How Screen Addiction is Highjacking Our Kids by Nicholas Kardaras. I loved it because it explains the science behind the pervasive culture of screens we're in now and how much trouble it's causing. I think about it with my children and their school-supplied laptops.

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    1. My kids hardly do homework on paper anymore. It's all Google Docs and online tutorials. I might reserve that book, since research on the plasticity of the brain is really interesting (if not just a little above my comprehension level!) to me.

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  5. I love reading parenting books. I'm finally secure enough in my parenting to just read it for what I think is best for my family, and not try to apply every little thing. I just put some of these on hold - thanks so much!

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    1. You definitely can't read it like a how-to manual since the person writing it doesn't know you or your kids. But I feel like they've all got at least one or two good things that pretty much any parent could take away and use to improve their family. Let me know which ones you liked once you read them!

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  6. The one that talks about over tired sounds fabulous! Absolutely, more sleep is essential! When we get the girls asleep by 8:30, we ALL sleep better!
    And all the rest sound good too.
    I'm trying to stop with the princess stuff, with the grands.
    going outside, playing in the dirt helps with that!!

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    1. With the princess thing, it's all a matter of balance. We basically had to stage an intervention with one of my girls, but for the others it's just A way to play, not THE way to play.

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  7. I'm not a parent yet, and I'm going to venture that you're a LOT more conservative than me haha and just lead generally different lifestyles. But all of these books sound like great resources, so I'm going to save this for when I someday have kids! Who knows, by then there might be totally different books though hha

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    1. I'm sure there will be, and at that point you'll enjoy some very dated references to Justin Bieber and Britney Spears... but I also think there are some timeless pieces of advice in there that every parent can use, no matter what their parenting philosophy!

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  8. So glad you did this! there are so many voices out there and this will help cut through the noise. Just finished Hold Onto Your Kids and I put the book down after every chapter because my mind was relearning everything I thought I knew about friends/teens/parents.

    Simplicity parenting is next.

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    1. That's exactly how I read Hold Onto Your Kids. It was almost like I could feel my brain changing shape as I went through the book. Important, good changes. I'm glad I read it when I did because it's affected the way I parent and the way I think about my job as a parent! So glad you are enjoying the books. Let me know if you read any other good ones. I'm always open to suggestions...

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