Do you ever think about the kind of mother you’ll be?
The truth is, as a (non-babysitting) teenager, the thought of being responsible for raising children one day used to make me anxious. I really wasn’t confident around kids. And I thought babies and little kids were so boring, and their mothers were more boring still.
Fast forward to college and graduate school. Something changed when I took a class called Worlds of Childhood (with this textbook, fyi). I learned about how children develop from the start, what their needs are at different stages, and how to help them successfully progress through stages of development. Parenting became less vague and more scientific and structured. (I also learned about the thirty million word gap, which started me on a relentless campaign to annoy the people I know into talking to their babies, but that’s for another time). I started to read books on parenting and child development to empower myself.
Child development is fascinating, and I feel that by better understanding it, I’ll be better prepared to nurture my own kids. There’s no pressure obviously and it’s purely for my own interest, so now is a good time to learn how to understand children, to do inner work to become more patient and flexible, strategies for behavior management, the elements of a unified and secure family home, and Torah insights.
Here are some books I’ve read:
I really loved Bright from the Start, by Jill Stamm. This is pretty much a manual for understanding and nurturing a baby from 0-3, with lots of practical advice. I especially love how she explains the neuroscience of development throughout the book. (Baby brains are the most amazing thing you will ever learn about). This book would make an excellent baby gift.
Parenting from the Inside Out and The Whole Brain Child, both by Daniel Siegel. Simple neuro, practical strategies, self-understanding. Both highly recommended. I also read Brainstorm by the same author, which was good, but read the other two first.
French Kids Eat Everything, by Karen Le Billon. This was so interesting! I could (should?) write an entire post on this book but basically, it’s part-memoir, part-parenting book about how French parents expand their children’s palates from an early age so that by the time they’re 3, French kids eat everything (think: more healthy, whole, varied diet). I kept reading parts of this out loud to my patient family.
The Danish Way of Parenting: What the Happiest People in the World Know About Raising Confident, Capable Kids, by Jessica Joelle Alexander and Iben Sandahl. This is a quick read but I like that it gives a basic overview of several topics addressed more in-depth in other books (like The Whole Brain Child). I read it on the beach.
To Kindle a Soul, by Rabbi Leib Keleman. This one I actually read way back in seminary. I do believe it was the first parenting book I ever picked up, and unfortunately I don’t remember specifics.
With Hearts Full of Love, by Rav Mattisyahu Solomon. This is based on a series of classes Rabbi Solomon gave to fathers and it is truly uplifting. It’s about parenting on a higher plane. I’d say you can even learn this one with a friend.
On my to-read list:
How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk, by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish
Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child, by John Gottman
No-Drama Discipline, by Daniel Siegel
Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids, by Laura Markham (I have a copy of this that I won as a door prize, must get to it).
The Wonder Weeks, by Hetty van de Rjit and Frans X. Plooij
Touchpoints: Zero to Three, by T. Berry Brazelton
How Toddlers Thrive, by Tovah P. Klein
Do you read parenting books? Do you have any to recommend?