We brought sweet perfect Scarlette home and quickly realized – they’re leaving us alone to take care of this human. No more nurses, no more doctor check-ups, that’s it! We’re on our own! Taking care of basic needs, easy peasy. I had that completely under control. But how in the world do you raise a children to be kind? Caring? Loyal? Full of integrity? God-fearing?
Clearly, I’m only a few years into this parenting gig. I learned pretty quickly I had no idea what I was doing and needed as much help (i.e. parenting books) as I could find. I’ve rounded up my favorite reads to date with my personal review of each. Parenting books are EVERYWHERE with everyone claiming they have it all figured out. Trust me when I say, I no more have this figured out as I did the day we brought our girl home. But I won’t ever stop trying!
Now is a great time for a disclaimer. No one book is going to provide you with all of the answers to raising godly children. We firmly believe you can and should utilize as much wisdom as offered to you, and pull from it what works for YOUR family. What works for us, may not work for you. We understand that. We just want to offer the ones that have been impactful for our family (affiliate links are included for your convenience).
The Happiest Baby on the Block – First, this was a fairly easy read. You can easily read it during pregnancy (well, if you’re a first time mom – I can’t guarantee reading for any subsequent pregnancies) and it gives a really general overview of caring for your baby. In my worry before becoming a mother, this book boosted my confidence. This is also the first time I learned of the “fourth trimester” concept. The idea that babies really should have stayed inside momma for an extra 3 months, because Lord knows those first three months are the hardest! Babies are clearly needy little things, and the books helped to hone in on my natural abilities. It’s very instinctual to respond to your baby’s cry and Dr. Karp gives you simple tips to help soothe your baby.
Give Them Grace – “Every human heart is always and ever drawn to law…Our hearts chase after tules – not because we ever really over them but because we think they make life manageable. Rules elevate us to the position of law-giver; they help us avoid the humiliation of prostrating ourselves before a bloody, despicable cross.”
Yes, she went there. This book took me a lot longer to read, namely because I needed to frequently pause and unearth the sin in my heart that was causing me to stifle at some of the suggestions. Elyse Fitzpatrick has a gift of regularly bringing you back to the gospel. Parenting children is constantly humbling, am I right? She reminds us WHY it should be humbling. We don’t create “good” children, and even if our best parenting skills did crank out “good” adults – what is the condition of their heart? The heart is what truly matters, and Elyse offers several practical ways to help us gauge and engage our children’s hearts. As a recovering legalist, this book has changed the way I look at my children forever.
Parenting with Love and Logic – As my daughter’s vocabulary grew, we quickly realized we needed to call in reinforcements. This is a book we chose, after a LOT of research, to read together. We read this one out loud in the car and before bed so we could discuss ideas and concepts to choose what we would implement. After each chapter we would decide together what we liked, and what we would disregard. Our biggest take-away is this, give them choices and aim to not use fighting words. Fighting words are classic demands/threats and “laying down the law” type language. There is certainly a time and place for that kind of parenting (do NOT go near that street!) but we believe it doesn’t belong in day-to-day living. Our children will grow into God-fearing adults one day, at least that is our hope. Giving children choices allows them to learn more about their independence and strengthen their character. “We have a choice though: We can hurt a little as we watch them learn life’s lessons now, or we can hurt a lot as we watch them grow up to be individuals unable to care for themselves.” We all desire to raise children who are capable adults. Implementing some of the practices outlined in this book has truly helped with our tantrums and misunderstandings.
Jesus Storybook Bible & Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing – yes, I realize these are not parenting books per say. But truly – they are invaluable resources for us as we parent. These are regularly opened in our home and are thought-provoking books which have the ability to spark important conversations about the gospel. We can’t sing praises about these books enough.
And of course, don’t forget the Bible. Trust me when I say, one of my top “Questions For God” (oh, you don’t have a list?) is why on EARTH there wasn’t a parenting manual? With an index for each undesirable situation? I mean, that would have been GOLD.
Books on Becoming a Mother
I firmly believe you can’t be as capable of a parent unless you are working on your soul and personal growth too. I know it’s difficult to find any amount of time to pee alone, let alone read an entire book. But nourishing our souls and minds are incredibly important to keep us, well, “us“. Here are a few books I’ve enjoyed recently to nourish my heart as a mother.
Good News for the Weary Women – This one was extremely important for my heart. Yes, I have recommended Elyse twice, but she has a God-given gift when it comes to saturating the pages with the truth of the gospel. It is easy, as a mother, to compare yourself to others and constantly feel as if you aren’t good enough. Elyse reminds you that you simultaneously aren’t good enough without Jesus and that you are seen by God as exactly good enough. We need to be feeding ourselves truth to speak over our lives frequently on this parenting journey.
The Best Yes – This was a simple, easy read. While it wasn’t earth shattering or life altering, it was full of simple reminders I needed. Am I stewarding my time well? Am I leaving room for the Spirit to put things in front of me I want to say yes to? Or am I saying yes to everything without leaving any room for myself? What mother doesn’t need a bit of help with time management?
On My Ever-Growing List:
Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys
So tell me – what books do I need to add to my list?!