Making resolutions for the new year is a tradition that is symbollic of making our lives, our relationships, and our world better. Being a better parent is one of the areas in which many people struggle.
Why not make a resolution to read one of these parenting books in the new year? Each title deals with creating a more peaceful, gentle relationship with your kids based on trust and repect.
1. How We Love Our Kids: The Five Love Styles of Parenting
As any discouraged parent can tell you, trying to change your kids is hard. The easiest thing you can do as a parent is to learn what you can do to change yourself for the better. And, ironically, this is the only thing that creates the peaceful home you’ve been longing for.
This book begins right off by telling you that changing your kids is not the goal. Instead, to create a peaceful and loving relationship you as a parent need to understand how you love and become aware of how your children love you back.
Parents and children are divided into chapters based on their personality and behavior types: avoider, pleaser, vacillator, etc. There is even a special section for unique children such as the introvert and the sensitive child.
If you have ever read relationship and marriage books based on the five love languages, you will recognize some of the similarities in this book.
2. NutureShock: New Thinking About Children
Breaking from the traditional parenting advice book, NutureShock details the science research behind some of the choices parents and children make. The books describes both the good and bad results and some of the implications those findings have on our job as parents.
Topics that are covered include praising your children, talking about racial differences, why kids lie, teen rebellion, and more. A lot of the research shows that what parents are told by “pop psychology” really isn’t the whole truth. For instance, praising children for their behavior and intellect can actually produce self esteem issues, while praising them for their effort can help improve grades and confidence.
3. Grace-Based Parenting
Dr. Tim Kimmel is the author of this parenting tome as well as co-founder of Family Matters. Their purpose is stated here:
Family Matters has a distinct parenting message: raise your kids in an atmosphere of grace, based upon the foundation of a relationship with Jesus Christ; concentrate on building character instead of molding behavior; and aim your kids toward true greatness instead of the world’s shallow lure of success.
The book Grace-Based Parenting seeks to provide parents with the foundational tools to carry that parenting message. Instead of the behavioral modification that many religious parenting books rely on, Kimmel truly extracts the New Testament example of grace and applies it to the parenting relationship. From the book:
Children brought up in homes where they are free to be different, vulnerable, candid, and to make mistakes learn firsthand what the genuine love of God looks like. . . Parents who operate by grace instead of by a checklist or popular opinion are a lot easier for their children to trust.
4. Unconditional Parenting: Moving From Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason
For non-religious parents or for those who would like to see more of the reseach behind gentle/grace-based parenting, we have Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn. A prominent figure in the progressive education movement, Alfie has tackled a number of controversial issues within the educational system. Backed with solid research and sources, he presents a similar message: legalistic parenting based on external pressure and behavior modification doesn’t work.
This is called conditional parenting in the book, in which children are loved for what they do, instead of for who they are. We all love our kids, but how we show and give that love is entirely based on what we believe to be effective.
The psychoanalyst Alice Miller once observed that it’s possible to love a child ‘passionately-but not in the way he needs to be loved.’ If she’s right, the relevant question isn’t just whether-or even how much-we love our kids. It also matters how we love them.
5. Parenting Wild Things
This last book on the list is not written by a researcher, professional, or counselor. It was written by a parent in the trenches.
Her writing style is conversational and warm. She shares her struggles as well as her triumphs as a parent trying to raise 4 children.
So, this is not a book about perfection. It’s about yelling, crying, fighting, fussing, and general rumpusing. However, it is also about finding the simple, God-given, relational tools to build healthy relationships with our children despite all of that. I’ve come to believe that solid, honest, respectful relationships with our children can stand the test of time and can withstand even the stormiest of trials.
The short, powerful chapters will encourage and challenge you to embrace the rumpus of your own household.
What parenting books would you reccommend for parents in 2012?
You can find these titles on Amazon, or check your local Christian Book Store or Barnes & Noble.