While I do think you can read too many parenting books, there are also a lot of great resources out there. Out of the many, many books I have read on the subject of parenting, these five were my top picks in no particular order. Today through March 31st, I will be holding a give away for the book Triggers. You’ll find the sign-up for the give away at the bottom of this post. I hope you find these books as helpful as I did!
You Can’t Make Me (But I Can Be Persuaded), Revised and Updated Edition: Strategies for Bringing Out the Best in Your Strong-Willed Child by Cynthia Tobias
My second son, Brody, was the definition of a strong-willed child. To say I found his toddler and preschool years challenging would be a bit of an understatement. Part of the problem is that I am NOT strong-willed, and I just didn’t get what motivated him.
To me, his penchant for fighting me about Every. Little. Thing. left me baffled. I couldn’t understand what the point was to make a big issue over what color spoon you used for your breakfast. I mean, honestly, who cared?
It wasn’t until I read this book that I really started to understand my strong-willed child. Cynthia Tobias (who was a strong-willed child herself) wrote this book with her adult strong-willed son. If you have a “powerful” child, I strongly suggest reading this book. James Dobson has a book called The Strong-willed Child, and it is also good. But as far as making a difference in my parenting, this one was, hands-down, the winner for me.
The Birth Order Book: Why You Are the Way You Are by Kevin Leman
I love books that explain why people do what they do. The Birth Order Book offers a unique look at how birth order influences the behavior of your children (and yourself, too!). I not only found this book fascinating because of the subject matter, but it helped me to navigate my children’s behavior and my reactions to it. Turns out, the birth order of both children and their parents can really influence how we interact with each other.
Since I have read this book, I’ve also had a lot of fun guessing (usually in my head and not out loud) what birth order someone falls under. The information Leman offers is amazingly accurate, too, and I can usually tell when meeting someone if they are a first born or last born or something in-between (you’ll have to read the book to know what I mean!). 😉
So, if you want a deeper of understanding of why your kid does what he does, get a copy of this book. While I found it helpful for my parenting, I also found it helpful in understanding why I do some of the things I do, too.
Strong-Willed Child or Dreamer? by Dana Spears and Ron Braund
When my oldest son Brock was a toddler and preschooler, his behavior was a bit puzzling to me. On the one hand, he seemed eager to please, but at other times, he could dig his heels in like a mule (still does, come to think of it!). I often referred to him as strong-willed, even though I never felt as though that completely fit the bill.
When my second son, Brody, was born I realized exactly what a strong-willed child really was, and my first born definitely was not it!
It wasn’t until a friend of mine suggested this book that I realized my first born was a dreamer. I really should have recognized the signs sooner since I am a classic dreamer myself.
This is an excellent book for parents to read to understand the dreamer child personality – especially if you are not a dreamer because they really do think differently than non-dreamers. It’s also a great read for anyone who works with children because dreamers tend to do most things differently – including learning.
Now that my oldest is ready to graduate, he still thinks outside the box, but again, not too surprising. My mom has always said I march to the beat of my own drum, too.
Triggers: : Exchanging Parents’ Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses by Amber Lia and Wendy Speake
This is that book I wished I had when my kids were little, but I still found it relevant and helpful, even at this stage of my life (I know you are shocked that my teens can sometimes still push my buttons!). I received a copy of of this book to review and you can find that more in-depth review of this book HERE.
In a nutshell, this book talks about the external and internal triggers that cause us to react in anger to our children.
Each chapter highlights a trigger and how to deal with it Biblically. The authors offer grace to the burnt out mom, but still don’t excuse the behavior. And let’s be honest, we live in a pretty angry culture. Maybe it’s because we are so busy and burnt out ourselves, but a lot of moms I know struggle with this issue of anger toward their children.
What I love about this book is it doesn’t just identify a problem, but it offers real solutions to address that problem. If you struggle with reacting to your children in anger, this is a must-read. While some of the triggers very obviously apply only to parents, there is a lot to be gleaned from this book on managing anger no matter who it is directed at.
What Every Mom Needs by Elise Morgan and Carol Kuykendall
This was one of those books that was a life saver when I was a new mom. I had almost made it through the first year of my baby’s life. As I came up for air, I realized that my life had changed irrevocably, and it was never returning to what it was like pre-baby. I know – kind of obvious – but I was so taken up in feeding cycles and getting the baby to sleep through the night, it came as a bit of a shock that things were never going to “get back to normal,” or at least what was normal before kids.
It’s interesting how God works because at the time, I was suffering from a horrible case of post-partum depression. This did not endear me to my husband who couldn’t understand why I didn’t want to be with the baby 24/7 or why I still wanted to realize some of my non-baby-related dreams.
The Coach actually heard about this book on a Focus on the Family radio show, and went out to buy it. He read it and then gave it to me. If you know my husband at all, you will know that this was definitely a God-thing.
This book gave me permission to admit that I still had a few needs of my own, even as a mom, and it made my husband realize that, too. If you need a bit of encouragement, check this book out, and if your husband doesn’t get it, this is a great read to help him understand parenting from a mom’s perspective. It has been updated since I first read it.
Disclaimer – I only have boys, so I have never read a book about parenting girls. There may be some wonderful books on that topic, but since I have two sons, I’ve never read them. This is the “plus one” book since I knew it wouldn’t apply to everyone.
Boys Adrift: The Five Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men by Leonard Sax
I actually read this book as a teacher. I had a English classroom that had a much higher percentage of boys than girls, and I was having trouble getting the boys to engage in books we were supposed to be reading and discussing. Ever ask a teenage boy how he feels about Ethan Frome?
This book gave me a much deeper look into the teenage male psyche, and while I read it to help me be a better teacher, it has also helped me parent two boys who are now teenagers themselves.
If you can’t seem to motivate your son, or you can’t quite figure out why his primary goal in life seems to be to reach the highest level in Halo, this book will give you a fresh perspective.
I think this book should be passed out at the hospital to every mom of a boy. It really is an enlightening read. If you have girls, but you work with boys at all, it’s also worthwhile to check out.
There are other parenting books that I have loved, as well, but I wanted to keep this list to books that made the biggest impact in my parenting, and also not overwhelm you with a huge, long list.
What are some of your favorite parenting books? I’d love to hear about them!
P.S. If you are just catching up with us, here are the links to the other posts in this series, along with a couple more you might also enjoy.
Part 1: Parenting Has Changed Me More Than Any Ministry
Part 2: 9 Principles of Parenting That Transcend Parenting Style
Part 3: 10 Myths of Parenting
Is God Enough for Your Kids, Too?
There Are No Guarantees in Parenting
P.S.S. Don’t forget: sign up to win Triggers: Exchanging Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses! Don’t you just love give aways?? 🙂