My clients will tell you I am constantly referring them to books… whether it’s parenting, spirituality, mindfulness, self-acceptance, there are so many wonderful books out there!
So today, I wanted to share a few of the parenting books I consider to be most life-changing for both myself and my clients.
I do not yet have any affiliate status, so I am not receiving anything in return for promoting these books. They are just that good.
Life-changing Parenting books
Let me first say that I am a huge fan of Dan Siegel. Like, if I put posters of rockstars on my wall, it wouldn’t be Springsteen, or Hendrix, or Prince. It would be Siegel, all the way.
And I don’t even know if the man sings.
But I do know that he has put together more than half a century of attachment research, along with the latest developments in neuroscience, to help parents rock their roles.
All puns aside, I need you to know that I am not one of those people who reads every parenting book. In fact, when I was pregnant with my first child, I swore I would not read a single parenting book other than “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” because I hated all the conflicting and faddish advice.
And yet, here we are… Due in no small part to the fact that Siegel’s approach is rooted both in hard science and deep love, two things which are arguably the opposite of faddish.
So, with no further ado, my top 6 life-changing parenting books!
Parenting from the Inside Out by Dan Siegel and Mary Hartzell
This first one is, in my mind, foundational to all the others. After all, you can know all the right things to do and still struggle to actually do them. In this book, Hartzell and Siegel take time to help the reader think through what it is that could be stopping us from being the parents we want to be. They introduce the reader to the concept of “reparenting” oneself in order to overcome the barriers within.
While dense at times, the information could not be more useful and effective if put into practice.
Autism Breakthrough by Raun K. Kauffman
This one is for all the parents of kiddos with autism. The thing that stood out to me in this book was not the idea that autism can be cured, though the author claims that very thing happened to him, but that without ever talking about attachment theory, the author’s parents lived and breathed attachment with their son.
There is no universe in which a child doesn’t benefit from parents “entering their world,” and in this case, that idea is applied with love and kindness to parenting children with autism.
I understand neurodivergent conversations, and I am not endorsing this book for the purpose of upholding neurotypical as the only, or even the best, way to be in this world. Instead, I see this book as a guide for helping our children with autism be the best they can be in a way that makes everyone feel whole, understood, and loved.
No Drama Discipline by Dan Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson
This should be required reading. I’m talking every parent, before their child is 18 months old, should have to read and pass a test on this material.
Life. Would. Be. Better.
The title is self-explanatory. The information is accessible. The tools are practicable. Whether you have a two year-old or a ten year-old, this information will transform your relationship with your child.
Read. This. Book.
Becoming Mrs. Rogers by Cindi Rogers
I know this one won’t be for everybody, but for those in the Fragile X community, and anyone who loves someone with FXS, this book will be a godsend.
Cindi Rogers is the mom of two adult boys with Fragile X Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that is the number one cause of inherited intellectual disability, and the only absolutely-for-sure known cause of autism. She writes with love, transparency, and hopefulness about lifelong caregiving and learning to do life differently.
Untangled by Lisa Damour
For anyone who has a teenage girl, or a girl approaching adolescence, do yourself a huge favor and get this book now!
I love teenagers. I used to be a youth pastor because I think teenagers are amazing. They are thinking through things in new ways, with their whole life in front of them. They are planning for their futures, and charting a course for their lives. It is an exciting and critical time.
Right after my daughter was born, I used to tell people how much I loved having this tiny baby and how excited I was to have a teenage daughter some day. People laughed in my face. I’m not talking a tiny chuckle. Seasoned parents guffawed. They told me, “you just wait!!”
Fourteen years later, well, let’s just say it is a bit different parenting than pastoring.
If you need some help navigating these waters, like I do, Lisa Damour is a wise and seasoned advisor.
Brainstorm by Dan Siegel
And of course, my list of six books could not be complete if half of them weren’t from Dan Siegel!
Brainstorm is a scientific look at adolescence that also offers practical and transformative application.
Learn why those maddening behaviors maybe aren’t so terrible, and how to harness the very best aspects of this tumultuous time in our children’s lives.
And by the way… did you know that the brain develops more during adolescence than it does at any other time in a person’s life other than between the ages of 1-2? Wild.
No matter where you are on the parenting journey, I hope you enjoy these books as much as I have!
What parenting books have been life-changing for you?
So much love,