Monday Motherhood: My Top 10 Parenting Books

I have been thinking a lot about some of the books I have been reading lately! I love reading helpful books, which most people may think are boring, but I LOVE them! I will be sharing a few lists of my top ten in different categories in hopes that you might find them useful.

So, here’s my top ten list of parenting books! Yay! No? What? Why do people hate parenting books? I know, I know. Parenthood is supposed to come “naturally” to “good” parents. Well, I don’t think so! I have been a mom for a measly seven years, but I have been learning that I have no idea what I’m doing! I have also been learning that there are a lot of great people out there who have figured a few things out, and as I’ve read their work I have found them insightful! I hear people complain that there are no instructions for raising kids. Well, there are! You just need to know where to look, and how to sift through the noise to find what works for you and your family. Well, here is what is working for my family, and if it helps you too, great! This list is basically all the books I wish I could hand out at every baby shower I go to!  Anyone who interacts with children needs to read these.  (Click on images to purchase any of these on Amazon.)

1. The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems by Tracy Hogg

I love this book because I really struggled with my first baby. Tracy claims to be an “advocate for your baby” and I love that because she has figured out how to strike a balance between coddling and crying-it-out! I don’t care what “healthy sleep habits, happy child says”, I could never make my kids cry it out. Yes, sleep is important, but it’s important to meet all their needs. Kids need consistency and rhythm and routine. But they also deviate a lot from the schedule, and parents need the tools to know how to handle those upsets. When my daughter refused to sleep in her bed, this book gave me the tools to work with her because I felt that if I created that monster, I needed to work with my daughter, not against her, to conquer that hurdle.

2. Hold On To Your Kids by Gordon Neufeld

I cannot say enough about this book. As a homeschool mom, I often hear complaints that kids need a social life. Well, actually, kids need nurturing parents who put them first! This book describes all the issues kids endure and describes how the root of the problem is peer attachment. Ever since the end of WWII, kids have been encouraged to spend unlimited time with their peers. That has not always been the case. Now, it is like the blind leading the blind. Elder Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said in the October Conference of 2015, “Prayerfully select mentors who have your spiritual well-being at heart. Be careful about taking advice from your peers. If you want more than you now have, reach up, not across!” This book has amazing insight about how we need to pull our children near to us to prepare them for true independence.

3. The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease

I know it might sound like common sense to read to your kids, but it’s not! This book gave me a lot of great advice about how and what to read to my kids from birth until they are adults! Yes! I plan on reading to my kids even after they can read to themselves. Babies and children need to hear the spoken word to develop their language skills and vocabulary. It is crucial to their cognitive development. This book, as well as a few others, has a pretty good book list at the end to encourage a love of reading in all kids. Other great books lists include: Honey for a Child’s Heart, Give Your Child the World: Raising Globally Minded Kids One Book at a Time, A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the Twenty-First Century (go to tjed.org), and PLEASE check out LibrariesOfHope.com!

4. Family: A House United by Nicholeen Peck (TeachingSelfGovernment.com)

I loved meeting this author at a homeschool convention. She is truly amazing. I know I added my associate link on this, but you need to go to her site and check out all she has to offer. This book has taught me how to establish a family government, with vision and mission, standards, and goals. She taught me how to empower my kids to feel like a part of something bigger than themselves and teach them to respect themselves and others.

5. The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman

I have made myself a student of my children, studying their character and personalities. All kids need to feel like they are loved and this book has great ideas to help us pay attention to what our kids need as opposed to what we need! Affirm them, give them a gift, spend time with them, hug them or wrestle with them, do something nice for them, whatever they respond to best will help your relationship!

6. The Child Whisperer by Carol Tuttle

I also enjoyed meeting this author. I loved studying energy profiling through her Dressing Your Truth program, and now I understand even more about my kids and how their energy shapes who they are! I understand now why my Type 1 daughter is so outgoing and spontaneous. I see how my Type 3 son likes to get into things and get out the milk and cereal all by himself at age two! I also understand why my own Type 2 energy gets overwhelmed by clutter and long to-do lists. Awesome information!

7. How To Talk So Kids Will Listen, and Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish

I love the language in this book that grants kids the power to think! I never realized how much I kind of belittle my kids by giving them my own thoughts and opinions! This book as taught me how easy it is to verbally abuse kids, and how easy it can be to change those destructive patterns.  I am going to study this on more.
In conjunction with this book, I add Mindset: The New Psychology of Success Awesome stuff!

8. Secrets of Feeding a Healthy Family by Ellyn Satter (http://www.ellynsatterinstitute.org/)

This book was recommended by my nutrition professor at BYU. I wanted to study dietetics, but my path diverged away from it. I learned the importance of the feeding relationship: I provide what and when, kids decide if and how much. This is insight help avoid feeding fights and stress, avoid eating disorders if possible, and encourage kids to eat well.

9. The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown

I have learned so much from Brené’s work. What I have learned has helped me overcome some of the blue feelings I have experienced from the perfectionist expectations. She helps me understand that there is a difference between shame, guilt, humiliation, and embarrassment. Guilt leads us to repentance, while shame leads to self-loathing and justification. The antidote to shame is empathy, and I would also say, hope. Being vulnerable by opening yourself up to empathy is crucial to growth. Vulnerability is a powerful tool of peace and happiness.

10. The Anatomy of Peace by The Arbinger Institute

I was inspired by this book. I once went to a class called the Landmark Forum where I learned about integrity. This book reflects a lot of what I learned. When you do something that is inconsistent with your character, you will either try to make amends, or you will try to justify your actions. When you treat someone poorly, you might begin to tell yourself they deserved it and you might start to see them as something less than a person. This is another great book that combines communication and vulnerability. Awesome book.

Honorable mentions: I enjoyed these books a lot. They didn’t make the list just because I felt they reinforced much of what the top ten books embody. I felt like they are great appendages to the principles in the above books. I still recommend reading them for great insights. This is not a complete list! I am still reading more, and I know there are lots of amazing books that I am still learning about! This is a good start.






Note: This list could contain a lot of classics that are great guides to motherhood: Little Women, Anne of Green Gables, Laddie, to name a few, but those are truly for you to explore and read over and over again!

Monday Motherhood: Why I’m Glad My Kid Is Spoiled

I couldn’t resist using a click-bait title for such a topic. I’ve seen them all over social media with those shocking titles and the not-so-surprising spin as you read on. Yeah, I guess that’s kind of what this post is. I’m not much of a blogger but this thought came to my head and I couldn’t put it away without putting it down. 

  
I just celebrated my oldest’s sixth birthday, and yes, she was acting a bit spoiled. My husband and I were trying to figure out where she had created such inflated expectations about birthdays (though if you knew my daughter you’d know she has inflated expectations about pretty-much everything). But, we aren’t well-off and any little bit we can offer her should be enough. My mind was immediately cast into the near future on how I could teach her humility and gratitude. I lectured her about lowering her expectations and being grateful for anything she gets! 

I was reflecting on this that evening and then it occurred to me why it’s not so bad that she is spoiled. No, I’m not glad she is spoiled, but I am grateful. I’m grateful she expects to be treated right. I’m grateful she has people around her who care about her and have shown her the love and appreciation every child ought to receive. I’m grateful that we have had enough to give her a happy life and the potential to continue on that path throughout her life. I’m grateful we live in a country that is relatively untouched by the turmoil raging throughout the world. I’m grateful she is yet ignorant of abuse or neglect knowing there are children everywhere experiencing such things. She has parents and grandparents and friends who love her! What a blessing! I’m grateful she is growing up with the knowledge of the Lord and the Plan of Salvation that will give her peace and joy throughout her life if she chooses to follow that plan. She is part of a chosen generation that I pray will be prepared for a life of service and positive influence – that she  will be endowed with power, having the full armor of God because her circumstances have allowed her to treasure up the things of righteousness and hope (Ephesians 6:13-18). “The purpose of my message is to help you envision your future. Have faith and hope for the bright future you face. Young men are future fathers; young women are future mothers and nurturers. Together you are ‘a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people’ (1 Peter 2:9) (“Face the Future with Faith & Hope” By Elder M. Russell Ballard Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles).

So while I’m not happy she is spoiled, I pray that her situation will always appear bright and hopeful. Don’t worry, I will find ways to help her appreciate what she has – she already does in her own way – and how to turn it around in acts of service and charity. I hope to prepare for a life of service in whatever capacity the Lord has planned for her as His disciple. 

Monday Motherhood: Socialization

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Whenever I bring up that I will be homeschooling my preschoolers who are approaching kindergarten age, the response is often well-meaning concern over how my kids will be socialized.  I know my daughter is very social, and I understand what she loves to do right now.  This may come as a shock to many of you, but I don’t care about socialization.  I have no intention of stressing over socialization at all.  It’s the least of my worries.  It’s funny to me that people really worry anymore whether homeschool kids get enough social interaction.  There are enough resources now for homeschooled kids that it is overwhelming!  There are opportunities for groups, activities, and classes to pack our schedules.  I have no doubt my children will push us to use many of these resources, and I intend to use them.  If you still have a misguided worry that homeschool turns out “weirdos”, consider that public school has its share of “freaks” as well.

What kind of socialization are we really even talking about?  The kind of socialization kids get in public school often leads to peer dependence.  “Dr. Urie Bronfenbrenner and his Cornell teams found that children who spend more elective time with their peers than with their parents until the fifth or sixth grades…will become peer dependent.  Such knuckling under to peer values incurs four losses crucial to sound mental health and positive sociability.  These losses…are self-worth, optimism, respect for parents, and trust in peers” (Moore, p49).  Children will adopt the values of the most influential people around them.  I would rather those people be their parents and siblings.  Children who spend a lot of time with their peers depend on peer approval, even though they are insecure about their peer connections.  “Does anyone who knows children believe that the yellow school bus takes children down the road to constructive, positive sense of society?” (Moore, p50).  If my kids seem strange to you, maybe it is not so much that they are weird as it is that they are just different because they will not base their worth on whether or not you like them.

I am not worried about whether my kids will get the kind of socialization they would get in public schools because I don’t intend to give them mere self-esteem, which comes from peer approval, and too much praise.  I intend to teach my children to gain self-confidence, self-efficacy, self-control, self-respect, self-worth, self-sufficiency, and a healthy self-concept.  This will come through exposure to true society, work, service, culture, classes, real life situations, sports, art, and music from a wholesome and eternal perspective.  Family is the foundation for these characteristics.  “There is absolutely no evidence to support the prevailing assumption by parents and educators that the average school is more of a positive socializing agency than a good home…And there is powerful evidence that we are schooling our youngsters today to be young narcissists” (Moore, p50).  I am homeschooling my children because I want our family to mean something.  I want our family to matter to them.  That bond that we create will give them the resilience they need to reach their full potential.

“Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities” (The Family: A Proclamation to the World).

And more:

“The home … is the workshop where human characters are built and the manner in which they are formed depends upon the relationship existing between parents and the children. The home cannot be what it should be unless these relationships are of the proper character. Whether they are so or not depends, it is true, upon both parents and children, but much more upon parents. They must do their best.
“If I had to suggest one thing which I think we as parents are most lacking, it would be a sympathetic understanding of our children. Live with the children; follow their paths. … Know everything that claims the interest of the children, be a good sport with them.
“We have been trying to impress upon parents the need of paying more attention to their children, having a little more of the spirit of the gospel in their homes, a little more unity and a little more faith; a little more responsibility religiously, spiritually on the part of the fathers; also, of the mothers; more of the teaching of the gospel in the home.
“To parents in the Church we say: Love each other with all your hearts. Keep the moral law and live the gospel. Bring up your children in light and truth; teach them the saving truths of the gospel; and make your home a heaven on earth, a place where the Spirit of the Lord may dwell and where righteousness may be enthroned in the heart of each member” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Fielding Smith,Chapter 4: Strengthening and Preserving the Family).

There is a lot of pressure to just give in and let my kids go to public school.  There is a misguided assumption that parents are not capable of teaching their own children.  My first stand to resist peer pressure will be to not buckle under the pressure, but to remain firm in my belief that I am doing what I believe is best for my family.  Socialization will come naturally.  Learning will happen too.  Rarely do you hear people ask, “What about their education?”  There are innumerable resources for kids who want to learn, and parents who support them.  The most important resource I can offer my children right now is love.

(Moore, Dr. Raymond & Dorothy, “The Successful Homeschool Family Handbook”)
Image courtesy of lds.org