Inside: A list of the best parenting books with advice on how to raise kids who are grounded, self-sufficient, and successful.
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Before giving birth to my first daughter I didn’t read a single parenting book. Not one.
In my overconfident pre-parenting state of mind, I knew everything I needed to know. I didn’t want to be influenced and swayed by seeming “experts” who probably had no idea what they were talking about anyway.
Enter baby #1 into my life and my naivety became apparent. I had no idea what I was doing.
My mind was swarming with questions:
If I can’t see how much breast milk my baby is getting how do I know it’s enough?
Do infants REALLY go through twelve diapers a day?
How in the world am I going to encourage this tiny creature to sleep?
My husband and I had our own theories and sometimes found ourselves in heated debates. With no answers of our own, we reluctantly cracked a few parenting books and suddenly those seemingly irrelevant experts had a lot more knowledge than me.
Ever since these first few days of parenthood I’ve been a bit more open to parenting advice. Not all of it is stellar and not all of it works for our family, but I’ve certainly learned a thing or two.
Among my most cherished takeaways from parenting experts is that less is often more.
Meaning: less hands-on parenting often leads to kids who are more self-directed, creative, and grounded.
Parents need to guide and yes, even discipline, but too much hovering and structure and kids won’t develop the ability to think for themselves.
The Best Parenting Books to Raise Grounded, Successful Kids
The following are a few books I’ve found helpful for my parenting journey. Hopefully, they’ll provide insights for you too.
Best for: Learning how to effectively and peacefully communicate with your kids
How to Talk so Kids Will Listen, Listen so That Kids Will Talk is a classic for good reason. This book is a very easy read and the ideas inside are indispensable for any parent’s relationship with their child.
By reading this book and putting the ideas into practice, you’ll be able to lessen the number of arguments you have with your child, learn how to calm tantrums and explosive emotions, and best of all make your child feel loved, respected and heard. You’ll also begin to form a trusting bond with your kids that will allow you to help to effectively support them as they mature.
Best for: Any parent who wants to help their kids achieve their full potential.
While not exclusively a parenting book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success has had enormous impact on the world of education and parenting over the last decade.
In her book, author Carol Dweck explains how research lead her to conclude that a person’s mindset plays a large role in determining if they’ll be successful in academics, in their careers, and even in the relationships they have with other people.
People with a growth mindset tend to show the greatest success. Dweck defines this mindset as one that believes abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work. IQ and talent are just a starting point.
While there have been many articles written about growth mindset it’s worth the time to read Dweck’s book to fully understand her research and conclusions.
Best for: Parents who want to raise resilient, successful, and self-reliant kids.
As a former Stanford dean at Stanford University, Julie Lythcott-Haims came across her fair share of overprotected, overparented, and overscheduled kids. And throughout her time in this position, she witnessed the negative effects this style of parenting had on her students.
While these students may have been accepted to Stanford, many were unable to self-advocate or do much of anything without their parent’s guidance and approval.
Through research and interviews, Lythcott-Haims demonstrates why allowing kids to learn from mistakes and forge their own path, they are more likely to become self-reliant and have stronger self-esteem.
Best for: Parents who want to raise resilient, successful, and self-reliant kids.
Jessica Lahey’s book, The Gift of Failure, could almost be a companion book to How to Raise an Adult. Both have similar messages for parents: that protecting our kids from hardship and failure actually hurts our children more than helps them.
During her time as middle school teacher, Lahey came to the conclusion that overparenting has the potential to ruin a child’s confidence and undermine their education. Instead, if parents allow their children to make mistakes and experience disappointment kids will more readily learn resilience and self-reliance.
Lahey also offers specific advice for handling homework, report cards, social dynamics, sports as well as guidance to help parents learn to step back and embrace their children’s failures.
Best for: Parents who yearn for a peaceful and happy home but also want to raise kids who have self-discipline and confidence.
Often parents believe that they need to use strict punishment and shame to get their kids to behave and maintain order in their home. But author Rebecca Eanes, a mother herself, outlines how using positive parenting techniques can not gently discipline kids but also result in kids who are emotionally healthy, empathetic, loving, and kind.
Eanes shows how parents can overcome limiting thought patterns and recognizing emotional triggers to become more positive parents. She also shares advice for connecting with kids at each stage, from infancy to adolescence.
Best for: General parenting advice
A few years into parenthood, I’d read a few books, learned a thing or two but hadn’t really found a philosophy that resonated with me – until I came across The Successful Child.
Picking up this book, I had no idea it was written by the founder of “attachment parenting” – a philosophy I envisioned being used by back-to-the-earth hippies who indulged their babies every whim and need.
But this book proved me wrong. Attachment parenting is often associated with infants, but I soon discovered that its message is relevant for kids of all ages. The main objective of author Dr. Sear’s philosophy is to help kids feel a sense of security – with their parents, teachers, and the wider world. This security is accomplished through empathy and responsiveness but also trust and reasonable boundaries.
The ideas I gleaned from this book stay with me to this day. I’m certainly not the poster-child for attachment parenting, but The Successful Child helped me better understand how I can connect with my kids and how this connection benefits them.
Best for: Parents who want to raise kids with an entrepreneurial mindset and are skeptical of society’s inclination to overschedule kids.
There are lots of ways parents define success, but the definition outlined in Raising Can-Do Kids defines successful kids as those who are able to adapt to change, aren’t afraid to roll-up their sleeves and get dirty (so-to-speak), and can brush themselves off after a failure and continue to progress forward. Essentially, kids who have the same character traits as successful entrepreneurs.
And how do parents encourage these traits in kids? According to authors Rende and Prosek, a developmental psychologist and entrepreneur, – instead of signing kids up for numerous extracurriculars and scheduling every minute of their days, kids need an environment of freedom that fosters curiosity, independence, and a willingness to figure things out on their own. Only in this environment will kids gain the seven traits that make for a successful adult, the authors say.
See a full review here: Raising Can-Do Kids
Best for: Parents who are fearful of raising spoiled kids and want to teach their kids to manage money well.
Teaching kids about money is important, but even more important is raising kids who are grounded and generous – anything but spoiled.
In his book, The Opposite of Spoiled Ron Lieber sets out to show parents how despite first assumptions, teaching kids to manage money doesn’t spoil them but actually makes kids less entitled. Through stories, research, and guidance Lieber shows how parents can both teach their kids about money and inspire gratitude for what they have.
See a full review here: The Opposite of Spoiled
Best for: Parents who want to reprogram their kids away from a life of entitlement. Also good for Christian parents.
Raising kids is hard. Raising kids who are grateful and show few signs of entitlement can seem downright impossible at times.
In the book, Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World, Kristen Welch takes the reader on a journey of her family’s mission to raise kids who are grounded, grateful, and above all else show few signs of entitlement.
Welch’s story highlights how challenging it is to not give in to our children’s every desire. Such as their decision to not let their kids have smartphones until high school while most kids were getting them in middle school.
The book’s message is very much rooted in Christianity but people of all faiths can gain insight and inspiration about how to raise grateful kids.
See the full review here: Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World
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