Sunday, January 22, 2012

Recommended parenting books and principles

Full question: What book(s) (especially ones directly related to parenting) taught principles that most influenced the way you parented and what were those principles? (If you can't think of any books, you could share experiences you had or teachings that taught principles that most influenced your parenting style.)

Books mentioned:

Between Parent and Child, by Haim Ginott
Children: the Challenge, by Rudolf Dreikurs (mentioned twice with mixed reviews)
Discipline, by Jane Nelson
How to Really Love Your Child, by Ross Campbell
How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and How to Listen So Kids will Talk, by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish
Parent Effectiveness Training, by Thomas Gordon
Parenting with Love and Logic, by Jim Fay (mentioned twice)
Siblings Without Rivalry, by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish
The 5 Love Languages of Children, by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen Covey
The Nurtured Heart Approach, by Howard Glasser
Understanding, by Jane Nelson
Your Child's Self Esteem, by Dorothy Briggs
About half of the contributors didn't read any books

Some key principles:

"If I had it to do over again, especially with our oldest children, I would have spent more time nurturing and not so much time disciplining and correcting.  I would have let them think through and talk through things better."

"...how important a parent's feedback is to establishing a child's self esteem.  What we say to and about our children influences how they see themselves."

"If a child feels lovable and capable, he is free to be the best he can be....We may know that a child is 'lovable and capable' but he must 'feel' that he is."

"Luckily you can love your kids through your mistakes if you let them know how important they are to you and that you are not better than them."

"We knew we had to be consistent and mean what we said when we were correcting them. Saying, 'Don't do that' and then walking away doesn't work, a parent must see that it stops..."

"They had good friends. Sometimes their friends weren't in our neighborhood or ward so we had to work on transportation more, but it was worth it."

"The most important thing to us was 'the end result' if you will, and not what was right in front of us."

Marsha (and Richard)
By far the book that had the greatest influence on our family life was Stephen Covey's Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.  We listened to some lectures at an Education Week held in California in our early years and my husband attended the week seminar at Sundance for training to teach the Covey principles in his company.  We, therefore, also taught them for some of our family home evenings and we have heard reports from our children as adults concerning the impact it had on them.  Phrases like "Win Win" and "Begin with the end in mind" became phrases that had meaning and could be used in our family discussions.  I believe it especially shaped my husband, who was raised in a part member home and didn't have full access to the church programs while growing up.  It helped him give greater leadership to our family.  The principles in this book are true principles of the gospel, taught in layman terms.  Our daughter is now teaching them in a program offered through the public school system...a great step in the right direction for schools.

Another book with high impact was How to Really Love Your Child by Dr. Ross Campbell.  It's a small book but very powerful.  It seemed to fit so well with Christian principles.  It helped me realize that much of a child's misbehavior is due to a low “emotional bank account”.  Instead of making more withdrawals through discipline, I needed to fill that emotional bank account with some focused attention.  Earlier I had read the book, Children the Challenge and implemented its recommendations but looking back I think it was too strict and did not allow enough for compassion.  If I had it to do over again, especially with our oldest children, I would have spent more time nurturing and not so much time disciplining and correcting.  I would have let them think through and talk through things better.

Another book I remember was Your Child's Self Esteem by Dorothy Briggs.  It emphasized how important a parent's feedback is to establishing a child's self esteem.  What we say to and about our children influences how they see themselves.  An active child can be viewed either positively or negatively.  I am concerned about how much negative dialogue comes from young mothers as they bemoan their challenges.  I'm grateful that I was a mother in a society that valued good mothering and was doing something I always wanted to do.  I was living the American dream by having a family and being a mother.  Mothers today are constantly made aware of their sacrifices rather than their contributions.  I love to see a young mother who relishes motherhood and realizes what a precious time of life it is.  Now that those years are past, I miss them.  I was the center of their universe during those years.

I once heard a social worker in our ward say, "If a child feels lovable and capable, he is free to be the best he can be."  That has stayed with me through the years.  We must be careful as we discipline to help a child retain his sense of self worth and just help him deal with problems.  We may know that a child is "lovable and capable" but he must "feel" that he is.  Sometimes mothers think their job is to protect their children from problems and to an extent it is.  I came to realize that my job was to teach them how to deal with problems, since that's the job of life.  Now my role is to be a cheerleader for them.  I must listen as they share their challenges and help them feel equal to solving them.  It is not my job to do the solving.  Being a "rescuer" by nature, I have to remember that.

In the end the scriptures and the gospel is the best source of direction in childrearing.  Charity Never Faileth.  It is true.  Often in parenting true charity requires tough love.  Only the Lord can tell us when and how.

Brianne (and Spencer)
I can't remember reading any books - I did read magazine articles.  The biggest influence I had was my own parents, and the gospel.  We learned a lot from our mistakes too. Luckily you can love your kids through your mistakes if you let them know how important they are to you and that you are not better than them.

In later years we read "Love and Logic" and liked it and used it to try helping our niece who was a young widow with her children.  It seemed to parallel in some ways the way we had done things by instinct.  We were softer in some ways.

I think books and articles can be helpful, but I once read an article and followed the expert even though it didn't feel natural to me.  It set my daughter and I up in a power struggle that went on for a long time.  I don't think you can raise kids by a formula - and every child is so different you have to be flexible and prayerful.  Look for new ideas, but you have to listen to your gut and to the spirit. 

Mary and Robert
Other than the scriptures, our assistants were "Children, the Challenge" by Dreikurs and "Between Parent and Child" by Haim Ginot.

Samantha (and Thomas)
I read quite a few books over the years, because I came from a relatively dysfunctional family, and I was worried about repeating those mistakes. 

The best parenting materials I found (and the ones I buy sets of for my own kids regularly) come from Parenting with Love and Logic.  They have books, cd's and other stuff for various stages of growing up--preschoolers, teens, etc.  It's highly practical, easy to implement and consistent across age groups.  I heard the founder at a couple of education related conferences and found that educators use the concepts in schools across the country.

I can't think of others I read, but I tried to keep learning, so when others would recommend books I often got them.  My kids say they like Love and Logic because they can listen to the cd's in the car which is easier than reading, though it's nice to have the same ideas in writing to follow up.

Karen and Lance
We didn't refer to any books. Seems as if as we talked with friends of their experiences and tried to work on our own we were more successful. We attended some Family Relations classes at church and learned a lot there. We also listened to our leaders and tried to follow their suggestions. There was a lot of prayer going on also, we couldn't do it alone. We could say "no" to our children and we are sure we were sometimes resented for this, but in the long run they know what is right and wrong. We knew we had to be consistent and mean what we said when we were correcting them. Saying, "Don't do that" and then walking away doesn't work, a parent must see that it stops or there is a consequence to pay. Right or wrong there are always consequences, good or bad. As teenagers they would learn the "worst" consequence, no keys to the car or losing privileges. We never prevented them from going to things that we thought were important for their future, such as scheduled meetings at church or places they needed to be. We didn't threaten them we just made sure they knew some things are not acceptable.  Reading the Book of Mormon and articles by our leaders in the Ensign always had good ideas and suggestions about raising children.

Barbara and Daniel
We don't recall any books we read to raise our children.  We had great examples from being raised in good homes with great parents, aunts and uncles, and grandparents.  They lived the gospel and we followed their example.  We were influenced by reading the scriptures, primarily the New Testament and Book of Mormon with Old Testament stories along the way.  We followed the teachings of Jesus to be kind, loving, forgiving, and to live the "Golden Rule".  "It takes a village to raise a child".   Our children not only learned from us, but from their teachers both at school and at church.  They happily learned the good things and didn't espouse any bad teaching.  They were all honor students, so they were able to be taught with other kids that wanted to learn.  They had good friends. Sometimes their friends weren't in our neighborhood or ward so we had to work on transportation more, but it was worth it.  We have lived in the same home all during the time our children were growing up.

Our oldest son had an experience where he followed what he had been taught.  He was invited to a party.  When he got there he found out they were watching an "R" rated movie.  He didn't cause a stink, but just went upstairs and went to sleep on a couch till it was time to be picked up.  Somewhere along the line he had learned right from wrong and had the courage to do the right.

One parenting technique that Barbara read about in the newspaper was helpful.  When children were fighting and hitting each other, Barbara would make them stop and then have one child tell what happened WITHOUT the other child interjecting anything.  Then it was the second child's turn to tell what happened WITHOUT any rebuttal from the first child.  Barbara would ask pertinent questions of each child so that she had a pretty good idea of what had happened and could work out a punishment if that was needed or a compromise.  One solution was to have both children sit back to back and watch a clock for 3-5 minutes without saying anything to each other.  If they said anything spiteful or mean, time was added on to the timer.

Jane (and Samuel)
I read tons of books!  Some of my favorites are How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and How to Listen So Kids will Talk, and Siblings Without Rivalry by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish.  I used Positive Discipline by Jane Nelson and I really liked Understanding by Jane Nelson.  More recently I have been impressed by The Nurtured Heart Approach by Howard Glasser.  The Faber and Mazlish books have cartoons which are fun and informative.  We also read the old books on Parent Effectiveness Training or PET.  It seemed like all I read for years was books about parenting.  I think the Five Love Languages of Children is also a helpful and insightful book.  After our chldren were pretty much raised I was a therapist for children and parents so I am still reading parenting books. 

Lillian
I didn't read any books but was mostly influenced by my own parents. 

Anna (and Gerry)
I can’t think of any books that we read that helped us in parenting our children.  I think that our parenting styles came from a mixture of the way both of us were raised, along with the principles of our faith.  There were things that we both obviously wanted to do differently from our own parents, but for the most part, most of it simply came from “gut feelings”, or those things that simply seemed right and natural.  We both had had parents who both worked, and we both felt it important to have mom in the home, even if it meant sacrificing other things.  It just felt right.  We both always felt it more important to simply “be there”, than to provide so many activities outside the home.  The most important thing to us was “the end result” if you will, and not what was right in front of us.

4 comments:

  1. If you liked this post, please click the facebook icon above (the small square with the 'f') to post it to your facebook wall. That will help more people find this blog! Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  2. They say the worst parent is the one who read the most books...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We think it's interesting that about half of the parents here didn't read any books while others relied heavily on applying the principles they learned in books. To me, that means that if the generation before you parented with good principles, then what comes natural to you will work. If that's not the case, then applying the teachings in proven books can make a big difference and guide a person toward the correct principles in parenting. Personally I want to "experiment" as little as possible when I'm devoting decades of my life to this. From Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley: "In terms of your happiness, in terms of the matters that make you proud or sad, nothing - I repeat, nothing - will have so profound an effect on you as the way your children turn out."

      Delete
  3. Just bought one of the books for my kindle. I love the idea of nurturing more than disciplining. I have a naughty 2 yr old right now I am just gonna smother her with it and see how it goes....thanks.

    ReplyDelete