The 10-book week: 10 books that helped shape my parenting

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

10booksadayContinuing on with the 10 books series, today brings ten that helped shape my parenting. All parenting books should be viewed as tools rather than prescriptive regulations, and these ten reflect the most-used tools in our parenting cupboard. They also reflect the shift in our parenting that occurred when we began fostering, so a couple will be more geared to those types of parenting situations.

1) The Power of Mother Love: Strengthening the Bond Between You and Your Child by Dr. Brenda Hunter: As with many of the books I value in my life, I was first encouraged to read this by my mama. Dr. Hunter writes about the bond between mother and child so tenderly, and it validated all that I instinctually was feeling about becoming a mother. This book powerfully shaped how I viewed my role as a mama, and as the current empty slot on my bookshelf will attest to, it continues to be my most-loaned book.

2) Grace-Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel: This is the first Christian parenting book I read that echoed what I was feeling in my soul - that the performance-based parenting that Christian families typically strive for was not the direction we wanted our family to go. This book gave me a hopeful vision for the future of our family, and I’ve given numerous copies of this book out since.

3) The Connected Child: Bring hope and healing to your adoptive family by Dr. Karyn Purvis: I can, without a doubt, say that there is no book that has impacted our parenting more than this one. We were out of our depths when foster children first entered our home, and traditional parenting norms just did not cut it. I wish we had read this much earlier in our fostering journey. No, actually, I wish we had read it much earlier in our entire parenting journey because it has revolutionized our parenting of all our children, not just those who came from hard places.

4) The Power of a Praying Parent by Stormie Omartian: Stormie taught me to pray for my children with focus and purpose. This is a great guide to prayer times for your children, and I refer to it over and over, especially when I feel like my prayers are becoming rote.

5) Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys by Stephen James and David Thomas: I absolutely loved this book about raising boys. The focus on nurturing appeals to my mama’s heart, but the reminder to not tame my sons into a pre-shaped mold was timely for me. As a mama to a highly sensitive eldest son who enjoys cooking and reading as much as he does fire building and sports, I also appreciated that it wasn’t full of gender-stereotype parenting advice.

6) Spiritual Parenting: An Awakening for Today's Families by Michelle Anthony: My current favorite on stepping away from behavior-based parenting. Michelle reminded me that I am not responsible for saving my children or for managing their behavior. It’s my job to help provide the right environment, to instill in them the big picture and strong values, and then to set them free to follow Jesus. A great read for this stage in my parenting.

7) Wounded Children, Healing Homes: How Traumatized Children Impact Adoptive and Foster Families by Jayne Schooler: Jayne Schooler gave voice to what was occurring within our family as we fostered traumatized children. The validation in this book as well as the practical helps gave us such an infusion of hope and encouragement at a pretty dark time in our family’s life. I recommend it to everyone we know who fosters and/or has adopted.

8) The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night by Elizabeth Pantley: An invaluable resource which I found at a time when I felt very little validation for the parenting choices we were making with our baby. The Babywise movement was full steam ahead right then, and I knew in my heart of hearts that this was not the way I was called to parent my children. Looking back now, I know for sure that was God already preparing us for the calling He had for us as foster parents…boy, if there was ever a method worse suited towards parenting hurt and traumatized children….but I digress. This book gave me a printed resource as an alternative to some of the stuff we were getting pummeled with from our young evangelical friends.

9) Let's Make a Memory by Gloria Gaither and Shirley Dobson: I’ve written about my family’s penchant towards celebration before, and this was one of the resources I remember from my own mama’s bookshelf. I have a copy myself, and while it is woefully outdated in style and design, the principles of celebration still drive our home today.

10) What Our Mothers Didn't Tell Us: Why Happiness Eludes the Modern Woman by Danielle Crittenden: This book is probably the oddest on my list. I don’t think it was wildly popular, it was somewhat dated, and it was not particularly about parenting. I read it at a time in my life when I was newly married, pregnant, and struggling with decisions about our future. It helped me realize that I can still be a feminist even if I choose to stay at home with my babies. More importantly, it helped me realize that it’s ok to be happy with that choice. I didn’t have to feel guilty or like less of a woman because I wasn’t fulfilling my “full potential.” My thinking on this subject has continue to evolve immensely over the years, but this book was one of the first I read that affirmed my feminist leanings without making me feel guilty or angry.


Your turn – what are some books that have shaped your parenting?

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