Books -Parenting & Personal Exploration

I love to read and to collect books!  With all  books (especially “parenting” books), it’s a matter of taking what works and leaving the rest.  But the list below contains some that I have enjoyed over the years.

(My personal favorite and the one that comes closest to my philosophy.)

“Connection Parenting” by Pam Leo

CONNECTION PARENTING is based on the parenting series Pam Leo has taught for nearly 20 years. Pam’s premise is that every child’s greatest emotional need is to have a strong emotional bond with at least one adult. When we have a bond with a child we have influence with a child. Pam teaches us that when we strengthen our parent-child bond we meet the child’s need for connection and our need for influence. “…here is a concise, simple, eminently readable and instructive summary of the knowledge Pam has gained through these years of devoted service. I can’t recommend this book highly enough and will surely promote it at every opportunity.” ~ Joseph Chilton Pearce, author, MAGICAL CHILD

“Kids, Parents and Power Struggles” by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka

Kids, parents, and power struggles–the inseparable triad of family life. What if you could avoid Machiavellian peacekeeping maneuverings and instead turn difficult situations with your child into jumping-off points to having a better and more productive relationship? Mary Sheedy Kurcinka’s new book gives a concise, practical, and often humorous account of how to achieve this turnaround. Kurcinka doesn’t promise miracle cures or overnight success, but by building on Daniel Goleman’s groundbreaking work in Emotional Intelligence, she offers creative techniques for using power struggles as pathways to better understanding within any family. Drawing on her clinical experience with numerous real-life families, Kurcinka builds up an image of the parent as an “emotion coach,” whose role is to build a strong, connected “team” by understanding the players’ strengths and weaknesses and showing by instruction and example how best to play the game. The techniques she outlines are useful for children of any age–in fact, the younger, the better–and are based on firm guidelines and mutual respect. In sections such as “Bringing Down the Intensity,” “Enforcing Your Standards,” and “Teaching Life’s Essential Skills,” Kurcinka addresses the causes of power struggles rather than just the symptoms, so that families can reduce the pain of repeated conflict. By the end of the book, any parent should feel confident in applying the principles. –Katherine Ferguson

“Unconditional Parenting” – Alfie Kohn

Author of nine books, including the controversial Punished by Rewards, Kohn expands upon the theme of what’s wrong with our society’s emphasis on punishments and rewards. Kohn, the father of young children, sprinkles his text with anecdotes that shore up his well-researched hypothesis that children do best with unconditional love, respect and the opportunity to make their own choices. Kohn questions why parents and parenting literature focus on compliance and quick fixes, and points out that docility and short-term obedience are not what most parents desire of their children in the long run. He insists that “controlling parents” are actually conveying to their kids that they love them conditionally—that is, only when they achieve or behave.

Tactics like time-out, bribes and threats, Kohn claims, just worsen matters.

Caustic, witty and thought-provoking, Kohn’s arguments challenge much of today’s parenting wisdom, yet his assertion that “the way kids learn to make good decisions is by making decisions, not by following directions” rings true. Kohn suggests parents help kids solve problems; provide them with choices; and use reason, humor and, as a last resort, a restorative time away (not a punitive time-out). This lively book will surely rile parents who want to be boss. Those seeking alternative methods of raising confident, well-loved children, however, will warmly embrace Kohn’s message. (Mar.)Forecast: Kohn is a controversial and popular author/speaker, well regarded by scholars and educators. This title should appeal to parents who want to explore the “whys” and not just the “hows” of raising kids.

“Kids are Worth it” by Barbara Coloroso

This bestselling guide rejects “quick-fix” solutions and focuses on helping kids develop their own self-discipline by owning up to their mistakes, thinking through solutions, and correcting their misdeeds while leaving their dignity intact. Barbara Coloroso shows these principles in action through dozens of examples — from sibling rivalry to teenage rebellion; from common misbehaviors to substance abuse and antisocial behavior. She also explains how to parent strong-willed children, effective alternatives to time-outs, bribes, and threats, and how to help kids resolve disputes and serious injustices such as bullying.

Filled with practical suggestions for handling the ordinary and extraordinary tribulations of growing up, “Kids are worth it!” helps you help your children grow into responsible, resilient, resourceful adults — not because you tell them to, but because they want to.

“Without Boundaries: Consent Based, Non Coercive” by Jan Fortune-Wood

Parenting and Autonomous Education Second edition is titled With Consent Probably the most radical book I’ve ever read. It expounds a complete philosophy of parenting called ‘Taking Children Seriously’ (TCS) and reinterprets children’s ‘difficult’ behavior as expressions of their need for autonomy. We very seriously tried this method of parenting and have learned a lot from it – in particular the excellent examples it gives of different ways we try to control our children (often ingrained habits we’re unaware of) and ways of creatively finding solutions where ‘all win’. We don’t do it anything near 100% but its completeness and radical way of looking at childhood have been valuable.

“Nonviolent Communication” by Marshall Rosenberg

Do you hunger for skills to improve the quality of your relationships, to deepen your sense of personal empowerment or to simply communicate more effectively? Unfortunately, for centuries our culture has taught us to think and speak in ways that can actually perpetuate conflict, internal pain and even violence. Nonviolent Communication partners practical skills with a powerful consciousness and vocabulary to help you get what you want peacefully.

In this internationally acclaimed text, Marshall Rosenberg offers insightful stories, anecdotes, practical exercises and role-plays that will dramatically change your approach to communication for the better. Discover how the language you use can strengthen your relationships, build trust, prevent conflicts and heal pain. Revolutionary, yet simple, NVC offers you the most effective tools to reduce violence and create peace in your life—one interaction at a time.

“Peace is Every Step” by Thich Nhat Hanh

Thich Nhat Hanh’s writing is deceptive in its subtlety. He’ll go on and on with stories about tree-hugging or metaphors involving raw potatoes; he’ll tell you how to eat mindfully, even how to breathe and walk; he’ll suggest looking closely at a flower and to see the sun as your heart. As the Zen teacher Richard Baker commented, however, Nhat Hanh is “a cross between a cloud, a snail, and piece of heavy machinery.” Sooner or later, it begins to sink in that Nhat Hanh is conveying a depth of psychology and a world outlook that require nothing less than a complete paradigm shift. Through his cute stories and compassionate admonitions, he gradually builds up to his philosophy of interbeing, the notion that none of us is separately, but rather that we inter-are. The ramifications are explosive. How can we mindlessly and selfishly pursue our individual ends, when we are inextricably bound up with everyone and everything else? We see an enemy not as focus of anger but as a human with a complex history, who could be us if we had the same history. Suffice it to say, that after reading Peace Is Every Step, you’ll never look at a plastic bag the same way again, and you may even develop a penchant for hugging trees.

“Raising Children Compassionately: Parenting the Nonviolent Communication Way” by Marshall Rosenberg

Your search for parenting tips that actually improve your family dynamics is over. While other parenting resources offer communication models or discipline techniques, this powerful, practical booklet offers the unique skills and perspective of the Nonviolent Communication (NVC) process. NVC stresses the importance of putting compassionate connection first to create a mutually respectful, enriching family dynamic filled with clear, heartfelt communication. An exceptional resource for parents, parent educators, families and anyone else who works with children. For over 40 years Dr. Marshall Rosenberg has taught NVC to parents, families, children and teachers. Parents around the world have used his advice to deepen family connections, move past conflicts and improve communication. His revolutionary approach helps parents motivate children to cooperate without either the threat of punishment or the promise of reward. Learn how to model compassionate communication in the home to help your children successfully resolve conflicts and express themselves clearly.

“How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk” by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk is an excellent communication tool kit based on a series of workshops developed by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. Faber and Mazlish (coauthors of “Siblings Without Rivalry”) provide a step-by-step approach to improving relationships in your house. The “Reminder” pages, helpful cartoon illustrations, and excellent exercises will improve your ability as a parent to talk and problem-solve with your children. The book can be used alone or in parenting groups, and the solid tools provided are appropriate for kids of all ages.

“Siblings Without Rivalry” by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish

With a title like this, it’s no surprise that authors Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish had a monster bestseller on their hands when the book first appeared in 1988. From the subsequent deluge of readers’ stories, questions, and issues, they have created nearly 50 pages of new material for this, the 10th anniversary edition. The central message remains the same, and sounds almost too simple: avoid comparisons.

Parents know that’s easier said than done. The value of Faber and Mazlish’s discussions is precisely that they talk you through umpteen different situations and outcomes to help you teach your brawling offspring a new set of responses. The highly informative text is punctuated with helpful summary/reminder boxes and cartoons illustrating key points. It’s a must-read for parents with (or planning on) multiple children. But parents of young children who get along fine (so far) should read it too–as the authors make very clear, rivalry is inevitable. The only question is how to manage the rivalry with intelligence and compassion, and on that subject they offer a wealth of good advice.

“The Explosive Child: A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children” by Ross Greene

Flexibility and tolerance are learned skills, as any parent knows if they’ve seen an irascible 2-year-old grow into a pleasant, thoughtful, and considerate older child. Unfortunately, for reasons that are poorly understood, a few children don’t “get” this part of socialization.

Years after toddler tantrums should have become an unpleasant memory, a few unlucky parents find themselves battling with sudden, inexplicable, disturbingly violent rages–along with crushing guilt about what they “did wrong.” Medical experts haven’t helped much: the flurry of acronyms and labels (Tourette’s, ADHD, ADD, etc.) seems to proffer new discoveries about the causes of such explosions, when in fact the only new development is alternative vocabulary to describe the effects. Ross Greene, a pediatric psychologist who also teaches at Harvard Medical School, makes a bold and humane attempt in this book to cut through the blather and speak directly to the (usually desperate) parents of explosive children.

His text is long and serious, and has the advantage of covering an enormous amount of ground with nuance, detail, and sympathy, but also perhaps the disadvantage that only those parents who are not chronically tired and time-deprived are likely to get through the entire book. Quoted dialogue from actual sessions with parents and children is interspersed with analysis that is always oriented toward understanding the origins of “meltdowns” and developing workable strategies for avoidance. Although pharmacological treatment is not the book’s focus, there is a chapter on drug therapies.

“The Highly Sensitive Child: Helping Our Children Thrive When the World Overwhelms Them” by Elaine Aron

With the publication of The Highly Sensitive Person, Elaine Aron became the first person to identify the inborn trait of “high sensitivity” and to show how it affects the lives of those who possess it. Up to 20 percent of the population is born highly sensitive, and now in The Highly Sensitive Child, Aron shifts her focus to highly sensitive children, who share the same characteristics as highly sensitive adults and thus face unique challenges as they grow up.

Rooted in Aron’s years of experience as a psychotherapist and her original research on child temperament, The Highly Sensitive Child shows how HSCs are born deeply reflective, sensitive to the subtle, and easily overwhelmed. These qualities can make for smart, conscientious, creative children, but with the wrong parenting or schooling, they can become unusually shy or timid, or begin acting out. Few parents and teachers understand where this behavior comes from–and as a result, HSCs are often mislabeled as overly inhibited, fearful, or “fussy,”or classified as “problem children” (and in some cases, misdiagnosed with disorders such as Attention Deficit Disorder). But raised with proper understanding and care, HSCs are no more prone to these problems than nonsensitive children and can grow up to be happy, healthy, well-adjusted adults.

In this pioneering work, parents will find helpful self-tests and case studies to help them understand their HSC, along with thorough advice on:

  • The challenges of raising an highly sensitive child
  • The four keys to successfully parenting an HSC
  • How to soothe highly sensitive infants
  • Helping sensitive children survive in a not-so-sensitive world
  • Making school and friendships enjoyable

With chapters addressing the needs of specific age groups, from newborns through teens, The Highly Sensitive Child delivers warmhearted, timely information for parents, teachers, and the sensitive children in their lives.

“Everyday Blessings: The inner working of the Mindful Parent” by Jon andMyla Kabat-Zin 

In the rush, rush, rush of too-much-to-do-and-no-time-to-do-it, the all important, nurturing aspects of parenthood can easily disappear. Jon Kabat- Zinn, author of Wherever You Go, There You Are and Myla Kabat-Zinn have collaborated on Everyday Blessings, a book that approaches parenting from the Zen Buddhist position of moment-to-moment awareness. It’s a beautiful presentation and a thoughtful approach to mindful meditation that will help you slow down, enrich your life as a parent, and nourish the internal life of your children.

“The Five Love Languages of Children” by Ross Campbell and Gary Chapman

Since 1992, Gary Chapman’s best-selling book The Five Love Languages has helped more than 300,00 couples develop stronger, more fulfilling relationships by teaching them to speak one another’s love language. Now Chapman teams with Ross Campbell, author of best seller How to Really Love Your Child, to help parents speak their child’s love language.

Each child, like an adult, expresses and receives love best through one of five different communication styles. This truth can work against parents who speak different love languages than their children. However, when properly prepared, moms and dads can use this information to help them meet their children’s deepest emotional needs.

“The Five Love Languages of Teenagers” by Gary Chapman

At no other time in American history have parents, teachers, and mentors been more desperate to find proven ways to reach teens. In response, bestselling author Gary Chapman presents The Five Love Languages of Teenagers. It contains practical guidance on how to discover and express the teen’s primary love language- the way that he or she will best receive love. It is tangible resource for stemming the tide of violence, immorality, and despair engulfing many teens today.