Mama, I decided to wish for a little brother.
Yes, I want to wish for a little brother.
What do you think it would be like, to have a little brother?
It would be fun. And it would make you happy.
Parenting is the hardest job. Period. Our children are our teachers, as much as we are theirs. They push our buttons, they force us to grow, they amaze and delight us. Parenting through grief has been an incredible challenge. I was well prepared in many ways – I have a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology and did therapy with children. I spent some time learning specifically about children and grief. When Steve and I went into therapy to save our marriage, I became intrigued by attachment theory and how the first years of our life affect our adult relationships. In school, I grew more interested, more passionate. After having my daughter it became a focus and I developed and facilitated workshops to help pregnant couples make the transition to parenthood in a healthy way. I have many strong feelings on parenting and at the same time, I believe it is an entirely personal arena. Unless there is a serious mental illness, addiction, or abuse, parents are the experts on what is best for their children. Except – and I realize I’m opening a can of worms – there is a whole lot of outdated, damaged thinking masquerading as parenting advice these days. There are a lot of “experts” who make their living in ways that current research is showing can be damaging to children – to their brains, to their basic sense of safety, to their self-esteem and to their capacity to have healthy bonded interdependent relationships as adults.
Take a look at what’s happening in our world – in our country. Some will say that is human nature. I believe it has much to do with human nurture.
This is a much larger topic than I’m prepared to write about tonight, but I bring it up because as I was debating what my final birthday giveaway would be, I wanted it to be something of value and something I feel passionately about. It was hard to choose one, as I have quite a few favorite books. Some of them are paradigm shifters. Too much so for many people. I will list a few of them below in case anyone is curious. In the meantime, I chose Hold On to Your Kids – Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers by Gordon Neufeld, Ph.D., and Gabor Mate, M.D. as my third hey I’m gonna be 39 and I wanna give stuff away giveaway.
Leave a comment below to enter. If you have a book that you feel was a positive influence in your parenting (if you’re a parent), please share that too. Winner will be chosen on Tuesday March 15.
Here is my very short list of favorites – eventually I’ll add a more complete one.
Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn (Alfie tends to be a bit of a lightning rod. This book is a paradigm shift for most. I wish it were required reading for all parents – even though not everyone will agree with all of it, absorbing even some of it could make a massive difference in how we raise and educate our children and the kinds of adults they become.)
Our Babies, Ourselves by Meredith F. Small (A fascinating look at the new science of ethnopediatrics, examining how culture and biology shape how we parent).
Parenting from the Inside Out by Daniel J. Siegel, M.D., and Mary Hartzell, M.Ed. (Helps parents deepen their understanding of their own childhoods in order to parent more consciously, in turn helping to raise more compassionate and resilient children. Based on neurobiology and attachment research).
Respectful Parents, Respectful Kids by Sura Hart and Victoria Kindle Hodson (Based on Marshall Rosenberg’s Non Violent Communication – another brilliant book – this book helps families establish healthy, open communication and strong relationships. Moves away from the “because I said so” parent-dominant paradigm without making parents weak or submissive)
The Philosophical Baby by Alison Gopnik (This book contains one of my favorite metaphors on the difference between adults and children. Not a parenting book as much as an exploration of philosophical, moral and emotional development)
Nurture Shock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman (A compilation of the some of the latest research on children and teens. The first chapter on praise should be required reading for anyone who deals with children in any way. Read it and – fingers crossed – you’ll never say “good job” again).