Early on in this series, I emphatically told you that nobody but you can be an expert on your kids. Those words are true. But just because you are the one God speaks to about your specific child, doesn't mean the experts don't have loads of help to give you. And just because you don't have A LOT of time to read, doesn't mean that you shouldn't read at all.
When you do read, I certainly don't want you to waste your precious minutes on books that are ho-hum. To get on my "Books That Won't Disappoint" list, they need to have taught me things that have stayed deep inside of me and changed how I do my Mom-ming. I'm confident they will do the same for you.
I read this book for the first time 20 years ago when I was pregnant for my first baby. I've re-read and referred to it many times since then. It's bedrock level thinking for parenting. Tedd Tripp very clearly points your heart toward the real goal of parenting - the hearts 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. The thoughts presented in this book caused an incremental shift in my mindset that 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.
This book did more for our family than any other book except the Bible. It helped us begin healthy family habits when our kids were little. These habits helped us thrive and sometimes were the only reason we kept our heads above water when life got complicated! 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 decide what our kids need? How should we connect as husband and wife? The advice in this book is super practical and helpful. 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!!
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.
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, but I do want to share my experience of having six newborns. When my firstborn was six weeks old, I was so stressed out I thought I might. die. He was eating all the time, I couldn't predict when he'd be happy or fussy or know for sure how to satisfy him when he was fussy. He was crying, I was crying. It was not a pretty first 6 weeks. Then a friend recommended this book. The main concept is that a routine eating, waketime, and sleep time schedule allows a baby's little body to calm down and achieve continuous night-time sleep. This kind of sleep makes baby and Momma well rested and happy. The routine also helps parents understand and interpret a baby's cry and be able to predict his needs and what will satisfy him.
We adjusted to a schedule of feeding, awake time and then sleep time and four magical days later I had a happy baby who routinely sleeping 7-9 hours a night. That would have been cool enough on its own, BUT THEN THE SAME THING HAPPENED WITH 5 MORE BABIES, including a set of twins!! I started each of my newborns on this type of schedule from day one, adjusting it to my own style and life circumstances. Every single one of our infants slept 8 hours every night before they were 6 weeks old. I'm not saying this is the only right way to parent a newborn, but if you're inclined toward having a schedule, check this book out. It sure was a Godsend for us and one of the big reasons I was able to enjoy the baby stage as thoroughly as I did!
This book was required reading for me in college as an elementary teaching student. The author explains the power of the formative years. So many pieces of personality and relational ability are formed in the early years. Things leave an impression, like a leaf that falls into wet cement. We have tremendous shaping power in our kids lives. Reading it will be encouraging and practical. It will make you glad you are a mom.
Everything these two guys write impacts my life. They're psychologists who know what they're talking about. This book is about using grace and truth skillfully and in proper amounts to encourage six important character traits in your children that 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. This book will help you gain the confidence to know that you are giving your attention to the most important things.
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 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. (There is are teen and adult children versions too!)
The whole idea of teaching your not-yet-verbal baby to do baby versions of sign language is brilliant. Because babies' understanding vocabulary develops much faster than their speaking vocabulary, 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 and 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 with their mouths!
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. Before I Was Born is also a storybook and is meant for kids ages 5-8. What's the Big Deal is a chapter book for kids ages 8-11 meant to be read together with a parent. And the last book, Facing the Facts, is intended for the parent and 11-14-year-old to read together or independently with a discussion afterward.
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. Maybe you'll gain you more points with your kids that way than by 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.
If you've got a book line in your budget, head over to Amazon and put a couple of these in your cart. These books will become a reference library for you and be trusted friends you turn to over and over again. If you don't have any space in the budget for books, send you mom this list for birthday and Christmas ideas, or request them from your local library. Do whatever you need to do to get your hands on them. And then do whatever you need to do to find time to read them.
Enjoy - you'll be wiser and more encouraged when you're done!