Early on in this series I might have said that nobody but you can be an expert on your kids. That's true. But just because you don't have A LOT of time to read, doesn't mean that you shouldn't read at all. And if you are going to read, I certainly don't want you to waste your precious minutes on books that are ho-hum.
Let me present to you my list of
"If You Have Time To Read, These Won't Disappoint!"
books. These are the books that have taught me something that has stayed deep inside of me and have changed how I do my Mom-ming.
1. Shepherding A Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp
I read this book for the first time 20 years ago when I was pregnant for my first and have gone back to it many times. It's bedrock. Tedd Tripp very clearly points your heart toward the real goal of parenting....the hearst of your children. He talks about Control vs. The Goal. Is our parenting a quest to control behavior that annoys us or are we trying to mold the heart of our child. This was a incremental shift in my mind-set that has landed me in a much better place 20 years later than I would have on my own.
This book about fathers and daughters is so awesome that I was going to add it to the list all by itself but when I went to grab the link I found that Dr. Meeker has written a new book about Mothers & Sons too! WooHoo! I'm placing my order for that one today! If you haven't read Dr. Meeker before or heard her on the radio, you need to add her to all of your lists. If only she lived in Grand Rapids so we could be friends! She gives advice from her years as a pediatrician. Her advice is practical, deeply thought out and will challenge you to do first things first. Just read everything she's written, please! You'll be glad you did.
3. How to Be a Healthy Family by Jim Burns
This book did more than any other than the Bible to help us begin family habits when our kids were little that really helped us thrive....or sometimes just keep our heads above water! This isn't a book about how to discipline or parent. It's more about the bigger, broader decisions you make that chart the direction of your family. How much time should we be at home together? How should we make decisions about the kids' needs. How should we connect as husband and wife. Super practical and helpful advice in this book. Jim Burns and his wife have been in youth ministry for decades, so they know what they're talking about when they give advice about finding the right balance between family, ministry and work. Read this!!
4. Love & Logic Magic for Early Childhood by Jim Fay & Charles Fay
Parenting help can't get more practical than Love & Logic advice, this book feels like a field handbook. Do you ever wish someone would just tell you what to say....Word. For. Word? This book will!! I repeat things I learned from this book like mantras. My favorite is this one: "I love you too much to argue!" Said with a sweet smile this phrase has the power to stop a debate with a preschooler on a dime....they just don't know what to do with it! If you buy this book I guarantee it will be dog-earred before your kids are grown, and then you'll be getting it back out when your grandkids come over.
5. Babywise by Gary Ezzo
I know there is a great debate among infant parents about demand feeding vs. scheduling. I'm not going to tell you that the way you're leaning is wrong....I'm just going to share my experience. I thought I was going to die 6 weeks in with my firstborn.....eating all the time, couldn't predict when he'd be happy or fussy....him crying, me crying...not a pretty first 6 weeks. A friend recommended this book, we adjusted to a schedule of feeding, awake time and then sleep time....and in 4 days I had a happy baby that was routinely sleeping 7-9 hours a night. That would have been cool enough on it's own....BUT THEN THE SAME THING HAPPENED WITH 5 MORE BABIES!! I started each of my newborns on this type of schedule from day 1....adjusting it to my own style and life circumstances....and always had infants that slept 8 hours every night before they were 6 weeks old....and that included a set of twins. I'm not saying it's the only right way to parent a newborn, but if you're inclined toward having a schedule, check this book out. Sure was a Godsend for us!
6. Children Are Wet Cement by Annie Ortlund
This book was required reading for me in college as an elementary teaching student. Reading it will be encouraging and practical. You will be glad that you are a mom.
7. Raising Great Kids by Henry Cloud & John Townsend
Everything these two guys write changes me, they're psychologist who know what they're talking about. This book is about using grace and truth skillfully and in proper amounts to encourage 6 character traits in your children than will help them become great adults. It will encourage you to know what is a non-negotiable and what is something that you can overlook in your child. You will gain confidence to know that you aren't missing the important things for the immediate inside the pages of this book.
8. How to Really Love your Child by Dr. Ross Campbell
This is another book I was introduced to in college and it is a classic! We want more than anything for our children to have a deep confidence that they are loved by us. It scares us to think that all the effort we put into loving them might not actually produce the feeling of "being loved" inside our children's hearts. Dr. Campbell breaks down the emotional needs of children in this book and teaches parents the way to connect our love to their hearts.
9. Baby Signs by Linda Acredolo, Susan Goodwyn & Doug Abrams
The whole idea of teaching your not-yet-verbal baby to do baby versions of sign language is brilliant. Our babies' understanding vocabulary develops much faster than their speaking vocabulary does and so they spend time in a no-man's land of wanting to express needs and desires without having the ability to do so. Enter - WHINING!!! Giving little hands the ability to say "thank you" "more" and "please" is an incredibly powerful proactive way to stop whining before you have to discipline it! And if you keep going and teach them more words, it's super fun to have conversations with your little person before they can form the words!
10. God's Design for Sex Series by Stan & Brenna Jones
I mentioned this series in an earlier post about turning your preschoolers into great teenagers. The brilliance of these books is that they don't leave the "sex talk" for one awkward moment with your preteen. The first book, The Story of Me, is meant to be read to kids ages 3-5. It's a very age appropriate discussion of where babies come from that introduces topics that you'll unpack in more detail over the next few years. There are 4 books total - the first two are storybooks and the last two are chapter books. If you finish these with your kids, you will have covered EVERYTHING you need to cover with them by the time they are teenagers. I can't promise that you won't have awkward moments along the way, but you will have created an environment where your kids know it's no big deal to talk about sex. (You might need to turn your face deeper into the book every now and then to hide the crazy giggles when they come....or just give in to them and act like a junior higher every now and then...that might gain you more points with your kids than acting all grown-uppy!!) You will have also been the one to tell them stuff instead of the kids on the bus or the tv....you'll be their source. Important stuff.
Head on over the libaray and start requesting these books - or text your mother and tell her you've got your Christmas list ready! Enjoy - you'll be wiser and more encouraged when you're done!