Mom’s Bookshelf, Vol 8: Parenting Edition

Useful Parenting Books

When I became a new parent I thought that all the answers were to be found in parenting books. After all, I’d just spent more than 20 years of my life in school, earning an advanced degree so it seemed obvious that I should turn to books for knowledge.

But now, after a full day of parenting, the last thing I usually want to do is pick up a book that taunts me with all sorts of ideas of how I could have done everything better. If only I hadn’t raised my voice… if only I’d spent more time outside… if only I’d fixed a more nutritious meal… if only I’d spent hours playing musical games…


And yet…

I’m not immune to the parenting book phenomenon. I’ve read my fair share. Here are some I recommend.

(Note: book titles and covers are affiliate links.)

Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason. Cohn works extensively in the educational arena (his is a big proponent of the no homework philosophy). In this book he challenges parents to stop thinking about disciple in terms of punishments and rewards (sticker charts, anyone?) and instead think critically about what they want their relationship with their children to be like, and how they want their children to view that relationship. Even if you don’t agree with Cohn’s ideas on discipline, you will still get a lot from his philosophy and research.
Playful Parenting. Reading Unconditional Parenting can be a frustrating experience for parents who like a side of solutions along with a main course of theory. Fortunately, Cohen offers practical tips and suggestions to struggling parents who are looking for alternatives to time outs and counting to three.
How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk. My friends, let me tell you: the advice in this book works. And I especially appreciated that the authors did not talk down to me.
The Essential Stay-at-Home Mom Manual: How to Have a Wondrous Life Amidst Kids and Chaos. Using real life stories and perspective, Hyland-Tassava offers friendly, non-judgemental advice and outlines easy-to-implement baby steps to keep SAHMs from sinking under the stress of it all. I actually think this book is good for working moms, too. You can read my full review here.
The Happiest Baby on the Block. This book is no joke for sleep deprived parents. I’m not saying I was a well-rested parent when my children were infants (I’m still not), but Karp’s method of calming your baby is a viable alternative to those to wish to avoid “cry it out”.
Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys. Essential reading for parents of boys.
Your Seven-Year-Old. Almost every day I think, “I wonder if other kids act as crazy as mine do? Everyone else seems so normal!” This series of books (one for each year) has been essential in reassuring me that my fears are irrational!
The Male Brain/ The Female Brain. These were not written as parenting books, are! I recommend The Male Brain to all my boy mom friends because it made me feel so much calmer about some boy behaviors (also, ladies it will help you figure out why your husband “didn’t hear you” even though you told him something 12 times. Ahem.). Also, there are some key changes in the male brain around puberty that you need to know about. Let’s just say when my son stops wanting to hug me all the time, I’ll be okay with that. You’ll have to read the book to find out why. I don’t want to spoil the surprise. For those of you with daughters, I think you’ll be equally enlightened by The Female Brain, especially when you find out little tidbits like how, for the female brain, talking is a more potent drug than cocaine. Can you tell I like to talk about these books? What can I say, I’m addicted.

And so which parenting books do you recommend?

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate link.

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  1. says

    Just requested a copy of “Raising Cain”.

    The parenting book of the year for me is “Parenting a Child Who Has Intense Emotions”. Because I have three.

    I can totally believe that talking is more potent than cocaine for the female brain. When I need to wake up and make myself clean the house I call my sisters for motivation – and they do the same!

  2. says

    Thanks for sharing this list. The Happiest Baby on the Block saved my sanity when mine were babies, not sure what I would have done without it. Lately my oldest has been such a challenge (wild and rambunctious three year old boy I can handle, snotty seven year old girl with an attitude, I cannot) and I've been thinking its about time to find some parenting books, and lo and behold you write this list.

  3. Megan D. Neal says

    Unconditional Parenting was quite eye-opening for me; I haven't read the other one of his yet.
    Like you I tend to avoid parenting books since I already feel guilty enough.
    I really enjoyed reading Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne.

  4. says

    YES to The Happiest Baby on the Block. I also love the Love and Logic books, The Parenting Breakthrough, and Bringing Up Geeks (I have a bit of a parenting book obsession myself!).

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