These are the books that have influenced how I parent my tinies. I can’t say that I’m a card-carrying adherent to everything here, rather these books provided me with tools, insights, resources, language, freedom, faith, and trust in our instincts. (And I frequently loan these books out to friends. As a result, they are dog-eared, underlined, and a few of them are not pictured above – sorry.)
Spirit-Led Parenting: From Fear to Freedom in Baby’s First Year by Megan Tietz & Laura Oyer. This is a new book, but it’s the one I wish I would have had earlier. It’s not just for the baby-stage of life. I find myself often referencing Megan and Laura’s book for my older tinies. Making decisions for our lives that are based on a growing and transformative relationship with God is very different than making choices out of fear. (And if you pick it up, check in the first few pages of the endorsements – you’ll see my name there.) This is the book that I purchase and hand out, like candy, at baby showers or to new mothers. Instead of strict schedules or crippling anxiety, this book gives the gift of freedom to mothers (and fathers).
Playful Parenting by Lawrence J. Cohen, Ph.D. I was at a bit of a loss for discipline once I made a conscious decision to pursue gentle discipline (which avoids spanking). My parents were not spankers, and yet we were very well disciplined children (for the most part…). When I read this book, I saw many of the practices and habits of my own parents there. It was surprisingly affirming. It helped me learn to nurture close connections, use play as a form of discipline (and to stop viewing “discipline” as an event, instead of a lifestyle), manage power struggles, and minimize poor behaviour. I found it most helpful during those intense two-and-three-year-old times, but I still refer back to what I learned here (and from my own parents, obviously) for raising confident children.
Grace-Based Parenting by Dr. Tim Kimmel. This was one of the first books I read that ran counter to most Christian parenting books. Most books that were recommended to me did NOT line up with the God that I knew and loved, let alone the type of parent that I wanted to become, nor the type of humans I wanted to raise. This was the first book that showed me how to major on the majors, to avoid the checklists and rules, to release fear-based decisions, and overall, to model and embrace grace in our home. I can’t tell you how much hope it gave me, I can see myself returning to it more in the coming years as the tinies continue to grow up and learn to make their own choices and decisions.
The Creative Family: How to Encourage Imagination and Nurture Family Connections by Amanda Blake Soule. I came across Amanda’s famous blog, Soulemama, years ago, and I was instantly hooked. (And okay, so I went a bit overboard in trying to make my life look more like hers. I’ve since discovered what works for us and what does not – for instance, I can’t rock the head scarf look.) This book gave us fun projects to puruse, sure, but what I loved most was the motivation and heart behind it. I highly value creativity and imagination in our tinies, and Amanda helped me to see everything around us as opportunity for creativity. I stopped yearning for specific toys or “stuff” to make that connection, and it helped me to embrace the natural mess that comes with being creative. We go through a lot of art supplies now.
The Baby Book, Revised Edition: Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby from Birth to Age Two (Sears Parenting Library) by Dr. William Sears and Martha Sears, R.N. The Sears parenting library has been invaluable resource to me. I have worn out my copies of The Birth Book: Everything You Need to Know to Have a Safe and Satisfying Birth (Sears Parenting Library) and The Breastfeeding Book: Everything You Need to Know About Nursing Your Child from Birth Through Weaning, but this one was my Bible for my first baby. Everything from nursing to development to attachment parenting to babywearing to sleeping (and co-sleeping), this book was my primary reference for that season of my life. The Sears’ were also my “gateway” to gentle, Christian parenting.
The Mission of Motherhood: Touching Your Child’s Heart for Eternity by Sally Clarkson. Although I struggle with some of the exclusionary language of the book (no greater calling than being a mother, etc.) this book helped me to see the big picture of why and how I parent my tinies. It helped me to give this calling, purpose, the focus, prayer, and grace that it requires. I loved Sally’s heart for her children, and she reminded me of my own mother in many ways. It helped me to define the type of home we wanted for our family, the “feel” of our family, directly connected to the heart of God.
The Ministry of Motherhood: Following Christ’s Example in Reaching the Hearts of Our Children by Sally Clarkson. Another Sally Clarkson, but I couldn’t help it. This book helped to inform much of what I was already feeling by my instincts. I struggle mightily with “how” to teach my faith to my tinies, I am not exactly into the whole Romans Road thing, or most modern Disney-fied children’s ministry stuff. Sally Clarkson talks about faith in the context of family, character development within a home of love. She articulates a practical way of living out what I learned in much of my faith-changing-books, about the nature and character of God, and how we translate that nature and character to our tinies. For instance, this book influenced how I discipline my tinies, as well as my committment to draw closer to the tinies when I want most to pull away in response to their childish behaviour. I had already made a decision to parent my tinies in a way that I feel reflects how God has “parented” me, this book helped make that commitment a reality.
The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by the La Leche League. I’ve written often about how much breastfeeding transformed me, spiritually, but this was my reference book for all things breastfeeding. The thing I loved most about it is that it took breastfeeding from a mystery to a normal part of life, while also affirming the art and wholeness and spirituality of the practice.
Loving Our Kids On Purpose: Making A Heart-To-Heart Connection by Danny Silk. I was introduced to this book through The God Journey podcast, and I can’t tell you how much I’ve appreciated both the heart behind the book, and the concepts/practical help of it. I particularly benefitted from the blend of holistic grace-based parenting with natural consequences. It helps me to help the tinies make better choices, out of a heart motivated for Love and life, instead of harsh punishments. It changes the focus of parenting from behaviour modification to heart-motivations.
The 5 Love Languages of Children by Dr. Gary Chapman and Dr. Ross Campbell. It’s amazing to me how often I think about this book in my daily life. Most of us are familiar with the love languages concept for marriages by Dr. Chapman, but this book for children has been a huge help for the ways that I don’t receive love in the same ways as my tinies. I often catch myself, remembering to “love” the tinies in the ways that they most receive and give love themselves, to ensure that they “feel” loved. With Joseph, for instance, he craves physical affection, while I don’t naturally require (let alone give) that as an expression of love. I’m more likely to write love letters (hello, words of encouragement!), but now I know and intentionally hold, wrestle, tickle, kiss, hug, and snuggle that boy. He’s never happier than when his hands are wrapped up in my hair, and I hold him quiet, but it helped me to see that that wasn’t just snuggling, it was how he knew he was loved.
Honourable mention: Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv. We’re committed to getting our tinies outside, in the wide world, away from the playgrounds and manicured lawns and paths. We try to hike, to garden, to spend time in the outdoors. We’re fortunate that we’re right between mountains and oceans in Canada, so we have plenty of opportunity. Of course, from a faith perspective, this also gives us all appreciation and connection with God, sometimes it feels better than church out there, truly holy. This book is a convincing argument for getting your kids dirty, and making sure they are outside – and it’s benefitted me, as well.
Your turn: What books have most influenced your own parenting?
We’re talking about 10 Books a Day for a Week. Share your own favourites on your blog, and share your link in the comments. We’re having a great discussion about faith-changing books already, if you’d like to weigh in on Sunday’s post.
Tomorrow, I’ll be sharing the 10 books by Canadians I wish the world would read. But if you have another idea for your own site, go for it. We’ll put our libraries to work, shall we?
Sunday: 10 books that changed my faith
Thursday: 10 books I read over and over (and over)
Friday: 10 spiritual memoirs
Saturday: My daily books + 10 books of poetry
Disclosure: Affiliate links.