The 7 Most Essential Parenting Books
Make some room on that nightstand, Mama
You breastfed (or tried…or didn’t). You sleep trained (or co-slept…or didn’t). Phew! Now comes the next mountain: You know, raising your kids. Thankfully there are experts out there to guide you through it all--from tantrum-free transitions to getting your little ones to eat almost anything. You so got this.
“How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk”
Instead of all that breathing, they should teach empathy in childbirth class--because it’s the single-most effective antidote to meltdowns. This how-to tome instructs you with exercises (and even illustrations) on how to respect and respond to kids’ feelings in a way that should be totally intuitive but totally isn’t. The best thing about it? It works.
“Do Fathers Matter?”
While the answer seems obvious, the author--a father of five--provides surprising, science-based insights into the vital role dads play in a kid’s development of everything from bravery to vocabulary. But above all, this definitive guide to fatherhood will make you want to hug your husband. And after a few years of raising kids together, that alone is worth the price of admission.
“No Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline Without Shame”
It’s one thing to know that little kids are supposed to sass their grandmas, smack their peers and throw food on everything. Knowing how to deal is something else entirely. Lansbury’s seminal book liberates you from the endless loop of threats, bribes and breakdowns, by boiling it down to: Lower your expectations (toddlers + dinner parties = no), be business-like when setting limits (pretend you’re the CEO and your kid is a respected underling) and above all, never take it personally.
“Parenting from the Inside Out”
Recommended by Gwyneth Paltrow and co-written by a psychiatrist, this one encourages us to examine our own childhoods for clarity on how and why we parent the way we do. It’s a guide to keeping what’s worked for generations—and healing what hasn’t. Perfect for the self-analyzer and armchair shrink in all of us.
“Great with Child: Letters to a Young Mother”
While often given as a gift to expectant moms, this book is also worth reading (or re-reading) as kids grow up. The collection of inspiring, poignant and practical letters from a veteran mom (and poet) to a newbie will remind you of the sweet, fleeting beauty of parenthood--and take the sting out of the toughest days.
This book touts the “power of less is more”: Less stuff (even your home decor can cause sensory overload!), less doing and more “being.” More downtime, says Payne, leads to increased creativity and a better connection--and we’re pretty sure he doesn’t mean Wi-Fi.
“French Kids Eat Everything”
Oui oui, it’s yet another book about how the French are better than you at life. But these nuggets of wisdom (French kids eat fish soup because they don’t snack, for instance) are simply irresistible. Plus: Recipes!