I’m not going to pretend that I’m an expert on parenting just because I have a lot of kids.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned having five kids it’s this: I don’t know anything.  Sure, I don’t feel “new” at things anymore.  I’ve become pretty confident as a parent in general.  But every child is different at every age–there’s always something new that I don’t know how to deal with right away.  I’ve found that following my instincts on things works reasonably well in most cases, but for everything else, I read.  I designed this course a little bit differently.  It’s mostly comprised of a lengthy reading list from which I can accept or reject any ideas that apply (or don’t apply) to my family in any given moment.  Some people get overwhelmed with so many parenting ideas.  I find it to be a really helpful way to store up a pool of ideas from all the experts from which I can draw as needed.  And that is the main point of this course.

Course Materials:

I know this is a crazy long list.  These are all the books that came highly recommended on various “best parenting books” lists.  Most of them I’ve personally read.  However, you should pick and choose the books that you think will apply to you most, otherwise reading them is going to be a major slog.

Parenting with Love and Logic by Foster Cline and Jim Fay

Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood: Practical Parenting From Birth to Six Years by Foster Cline and Jim Fay

Momma Zen: Walking the Crooked Path of Motherhood by Karen Maezen Miller

Parent Effectiveness Training (P.E.T.): The Proven Program for Raising Responsible Kids by Thomas Gordon

Raising Children Who Think for Themselves by Elisa Medhus

Fifteen Minutes Outside: 365 Ways to Get Out of the House and Connect with Your Kids by Rebecca Cohen

Yell Less, Love More: How the Orange Rhino Mom Stopped Yelling at Her Kids – and How You Can Too! by Sheila McCraith

Discipline: 101 Alternatives to Nagging, Yelling, and Spanking by Alvin Price and Jay Parry

1-2-3 Magic: 3-Step Discipline for Calm, Effective, and Happy Parenting by Thomas Phelan

The Conscious Parent: Transforming Ourselves, Empowering Our Children by Shefali Tsabary

The 5 Love Languages of Children: The Secret to Loving Children Effectively by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell

The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind by Daniel Siegel and Tina Bryson

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

Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason by Alfie Kohn

Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting by Laura Markham

Siblings Without Rivalry: How to Help Your Children Live Together So You Can Live Too by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish

Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting by Pamela Druckerman

The Children You Want with the Kids You Have by Marie Ricks

Cleaning House: A Mom’s Twelve-Month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement by Kay Wills Wyma

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua — This book has sparked a lot of controversy, but it’s worth reading.  My favorite take-away is that it might be good for our kids to assume they are strong enough instead of assuming they are too weak.

NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman

Smart Parenting for Smart Kids: Nurturing Your Child’s True Potential by Eileen Kennedy-Moore and Mark Lowenthal

No Regrets Parenting: Turning Long Days and Short Years into Cherished Moments with Your Kids by Harley Rotbart

Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids by Kim Payne and Lisa Ross

Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv

Kids Are Worth It! : Giving Your Child The Gift Of Inner Discipline by Barbara Coloroso

Buddhism for Mothers: A Calm Approach to Caring for Yourself and Your Children by Sarah Napthali — If find parenting books written from a Buddhist perspective extremely helpful.  Patience is the number one skill needed to parent well, and books like this directly address that.

Respectful Parents, Respectful Kids: 7 Keys to Turn Family Conflict into Cooperation by Sura Hart and Victoria Hodson

Out of Control: Why Disciplining Your Child Doesn’t Work and What Will by Shefali Tsabary

Liberated Parents, Liberated Children: Your Guide to a Happier Family by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish

Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life by Peter Gray

Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls by Mary Pipher and Ruth Ross

Boys Adrift: The Five Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men by Leonard Sax

Hearing Is Believing: How Words Can Make or Break Our Kids by Elisa Medhus

Raising Self-Reliant Children in a Self-Indulgent World: Seven Building Blocks for Developing Capable Young People by H. Stephen Glenn and Jane Nelsen

A House United: Changing Children’s Hearts and Behaviors by Teaching Self Government by Nicholeen Peck

Life Is Short, Laundry Is Eternal: Confessions of a Stay-at-Home Dad by Scott Benner

Stress Free Kids: A Parent’s Guide to Helping Build Self-Esteem, Manage Stress, and Reduce Anxiety in Children by Lori Lite

Slow Parenting Teens: How to Create a Positive, Respectful, and Fun Relationship with Your Teenager by Molly Wingate and Marti Woodward

The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed by Jessica Lahey

Hands Free Mama: A Guide to Putting Down the Phone, Burning the To-Do List, and Letting Go of Perfection to Grasp What Really Matters! by Rachel Macy Stafford

Growing Up Again: Parenting Ourselves, Parenting Our Children by Jean Clarke and Connie Dawson

The Myth of the Perfect Girl: Helping Our Daughters Find Authentic Success and Happiness in School and Life by Ana Homayoun

Bringing Up Boys by James Dobson

Bringing Up Girls: Practical Advice and Encouragement for Those Shaping the Next Generation of Women by James Dobson

Little Things Long Remembered: Making Your Children Feel Special Every Day by Susan Newman

Children: The Challenge : The Classic Work on Improving Parent-Child Relations–Intelligent, Humane & Eminently Practical by Rudolf Dreikurs

Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline: The 7 Basic Skills for Turning Conflict into Cooperation by Becky Bailey

Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles: Winning for a Lifetime by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka

It’s OK Not to Share and Other Renegade Rules for Raising Competent and Compassionate Kids by Heather Shumaker

Positive Parenting Solutions  This is not a book.  It is an online coaching curriculum that I’ve found very helpful.  It does, however, cost money.

Notebook or notecards

Course Objectives:

–As you read the books on your own personal reading list, take thorough notes in a notebook or isolate the most actionable tips and tricks on individual notecards that you can then organize by book or by subject.  It might be a good idea to mark your notes as “take action,” “remember this,” or “phrases I can use” in order to organize ideas by type also.

–Throw out anything you completely disagree with or feel isn’t right for your family.  Keep and organize the ideas that you think might be helpful.  With that notebook full of new ideas or notecards of isolated tips, build for yourself a handbook of ideas.  In other words, organize your findings further if you need to.  Working with your notes will also provide the added benefit of helping you internalize and memorize the ideas you’ve found.  You might even go so far as to create a parenting to-do list or “to-try” list at the front of your notebook or one a title notecard.

–Once you’ve got a organized body of ideas to use, make a list of the biggest problems you face as a parent.  Write down all your worries and see if your new “handbook” can help you address your most pressing problem.

Final Project:

Try your new approach for two weeks and see if any progress can be made.  Repeat this step, trying out ideas on your most pressing problems until you’ve learned some new parenting habits.  Consider making personal parenting challenges for solidifying general parenting behaviors that you want to use to benefit everyone.  This process is going to be highly personalized for you and your family, so always remember that you can decide what will or will not work or is or is not working.

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