I have a love/hate relationship with parenting books. When I feel at a loss as a new parent, I pick up a book that has been highly recommended to me or even sent to my doorstep as a loving gift from a friend. I start at the beginning. I read a few chapters. I try to do every single thing it says to do. I read a few more chapters. I get to a section that says some version of “If you don’t do it this way, your child will turn into a drug addict/axe murderer/ suicidal teenager.” I get so triggered, that I put the book down feeling worse than when I started.
Is it possible that the information age pulls us so far into our heads that we mistrust our own intuition? Maybe so.
Never-the-less, here are the books on my night stand:
Books I read before “The Squirrel” came into our home:
The Conscious Parent: Transforming Ourselves, Empowering Our Children
I love the framing of how kids are just mirroring our own spiritual journey back to us and how learning to accept who our kids actually are is key. So hard! So huge! There is a pretty big emphasis here on raising kids from birth, so I’d love to know her thoughts on counsciously parenting kids who have experienced trauma before coming to you.
Parenting With Love And Logic (Updated and Expanded Edition)
We’ve used more limit-setting strategies from this book than any other. I love how they stress empathy but feel like they do not speak to attachment or children with special needs.
Books I’ve been read while parenting “The Squirrel”:
The Post-Adoption Blues: Overcoming the Unforeseen Challenges of Adoption
Until I was a new adoptive parent, I did not know such a thing existed. It does. I haven’t read the whole book but just knowing the topic exists was helpful when I felt unexpectedly depressed those first few months.
The Unofficial Guide to Adoptive Parenting
This woman goes there. She is not afraid to claim how adopting a child through foster care is not the same as birthing a child. She breaks down the details of her daily life. I was so triggered by this book, I could only read it a few pages at a time. But I did get through the whole thing.
This is a fictional story of an adopted child that has a relatively happy ending. I can’t read enough of these. Plus, it shines a light on a time in history that I never knew about…the legacy of adoption in our country.
Books on my shelf that I haven’t read yet:
Respectful Parents, Respectful Kids: 7 Keys to Turn Family Conflict into Cooperation
Recommended to me by a good friend and mindful parenting coach, Michelle Gale. She loves it and from what I can tell, it’s full of Dan Siegel inspired approaches to working with trauma and putting non-violent communication to work in your home.
Raising Your Spirited Child: A Guide for Parents Whose Child Is More Intense, Sensitive, Perceptive, Persistent, and Energetic AND
Setting Limits with Your Strong-Willed Child, Revised and Expanded 2nd Edition: Eliminating Conflict by Establishing CLEAR, Firm, and Respectful Boundaries
These 2 were gifts from my women’s group who listen tirelessly about my intense and wonderful little squirrel.
I freely admit that I am in over my head as a new parent. That’s what makes it so tempting to read these books as “how to’s.” Wouldn’t it be fabulous if following the simple steps outlined in each of these would guarantee my child would never grow up to be a drug addict/axe murderer/ suicidal teenager?
I’m starting to catch my impulse to follow other people’s advice over listening to my own heart. Luckily, it feels uncomfortable. I get triggered because I know deep down that something I’m reading doesn’t feel true for me or my family. That’s when I know it’s time to close the book, take a deep breath and trust myself.
I may be brand new at parenting, but I’ve been a human being for a long time.