Three years ago my biggest challenge in life was trying to keep my room clean. Now I have countless things to manage that are immeasurably more difficult than that, because in that very short window of time, God gave me a husband and two children (and a whole house!) Adjusting to all these "new normals" of being a grown-up has been kind of scary! So, needless to say, I've been pretty desperate for wisdom and guidance as I brave these new trails. The Bible has been (or at least should be) my #1 source, and talking to older and wiser parents has certainly helped, but a lot of books have helped too. Some books were kind of a waste of time and effort, which is so sad because it's not like mommies have buckets (or even sippy cups) of free time. So I thought it might be helpful to make a list of books I really think are worth it so that others who find themselves to be grown-ups can be more choosy about what they read.
I acknowledge I need to read more variety (such as works from previous centuries) but I feel that I've dipped into a decent range across the parenting and theological "tribes" (including books by non-Christians) and gotten takeaways and stayaways from everywhere.
With a few exceptions, these are books I've either read completely or 75%. An asterisk indicates what I would consider a must-read book. Some books I've borrowed from the library or gotten from yard sales, but most are bought from Westminister Bookstore. I think books are one of the most worthwhile investments you can make; that's why I'm constantly on a quest to find the really good ones.
Oh, and I realize that I wrote in fragments quite a bit. I was trying to keep this brief ;)
Pregnancy and Birth
The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer - A very helpful resource with all kinds of objective research. This book helped me reach a conclusion about what kind of birth I wanted to have, but I found it to be more informative than condemning if I chose to do otherwise or didn't have any other options.
Belly Laughs by Jenny McCarthy - A junk read but good for a giggle here and there to help you laugh at yourself and all the crazy things pregnancy does to you.
Brain Rules for Baby by John Medina - Written by a neurologist and father. Raising an intelligent child (though that can easily be a selfish and/or unhealthy goal) doesn't require putting Mozart-playing earphones on the pregnant belly or showing your child Baby Einstein DVDs; it requires intentional interaction with your child. Ditch the flash cards and let your kid be creative playing with a cardboard box. He had some great input.
Not very helpful:
What to Expect When You're Expecting by Heidi Murkoff - It seemed to just told me all the things that can go wrong in pregnancy and birth! Childbearing was portrayed to be a far more complicated/scary and far less wonderful process than it is. Additionally, oftentimes the authors just gave what I would consider to be plain ol' bad/impractical advice.
A quick note: As far as I can tell, the Bible doesn't say how to parent a young baby or whether sleep schedules are good or evil. So I don't think it's wise to think that following (or abhorring) books like BabyWise---or its nemesis, Dr. Sears' The Baby Sleep Book ---has any correlation with whether you're parenting well or poorly. Once a baby is old enough to be disciplined, yeah, there are some objective commands in the Bible about that...but it seems to be kind of silent about that first year...I wish I could go back and just spend time praying and reading Proverbs (becoming a wise mom in general) instead of poring over numerous books and articles with harshly conflicting opinions on things in which there is no Biblical imperative or even clear scientific evidence. I know a lot of really wonderful moms who are on the Parent-Directed Feeding side and just as many moms who are on the Attachment Parenting side...and I know a lot of awesome moms who don't adhere to either.
*The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding put out by La Leche League - I probably wouldn't have persevered in nursing had I not read this book while pregnant. Even though it's written by La Leche League and is not a "Christian" book WAoB, opened my eyes to Gods beautiful design and led me in worship.
The Vaccine Book by Dr. Sears - Gives fairly objective information about the risks and benefits of each vaccine. He also lays out his plan for a more gentle vaccine schedule than the one recommended by the AAP. My pediatrician and my midwife gave me a thumbs up about this book as it is very informative and fairly middle-of-the-road as far as immunizations go.
Secrets of the Baby Whisperer by Tracy Hogg - Some good tips but some odd perspective as well.
On Becoming BabyWise by Gary Ezzo - Made me feel bad for following my instincts and "blocking my baby's cries" by nursing on demand. It also didn't work for Stephen even when I tried.
The Baby Sleep Book by Dr. Sears - The opposite of BabyWise, this book made me feel bad for letting my baby cry at all. Really encourages the child to be in charge of the home.
Parenting (ideally read by both spouses)
*Child Training Tips by Reb Bradley - Main point: Is your home run by the children or the parents? Very practical and concise tips on why and how to establish your God-given authority as parents. Rocked my world.
*Shepherding a Child's Heart by Ted Tripp - Absolutely foundational and truly a must-read, examining the motives and ramifications behind how we parent, and teaching us how to show our kids their need for Christ (and how He met that need.) I re-read this recently and was very helped by the refresher now that my child is older and more able to be shepherded.
Sacred Parenting by Gary Thomas - Gets at the heart of how God uses parenting to help YOU be more holy. A beautiful read, just like Sacred Marriage and Sacred Influence.
Bringing Up Bebé by Pamela Druckerman - As an expatriate taking cues from her French peers, the author hit on some good points about how children should not be the ones in charge. However, her reasons for this seemed kind of selfish---so Mommy can have an easier life and do what she wants--- rather than for the good of the child and the family as a whole.
Being a Mom/Homemaker
*Large Family Logistics by Kim Brenneman - Practical, humble wisdom from a mother of 9. She doesn't tell you "give yourself a break, you can have a clean house when the babies are grown" because she acknowledges that some families have new babies pretty frequently. She instead gives advice on how to manage your home well.
Glimpses of Grace by Gloria Furman - Theological and devotional, she basically preaches the gospel in every chapter, but she preaches to me where I'm at: drowning in dishes and diapers.
Treasuring God in Our Traditions by Noël Piper - Acknowledging that God is the ultimate Homemaker, this book helped me see the value in establishing Christ-centered traditions and even everyday routines. Quite practical.
Feminine Appeal by Carolyn Mahaney - Thoroughly biblical thoughts on being a homemaker. I was as challenged as I was encouraged (as I always am when I read or listen to things by the Mahaneys.)
Three Little Words by Ashley Rhodes-Courter - The memoir of a girl who actually grew up in Hillsborough County where I live. She really has one of those horror story experiences with the foster care system; tremendously eye-opening.
*Adopted for Life by Russell Moore - This book was absolutely incredible. Combining Dr. Moore's excellent interpretation of scripture and his heartwarming journey of adoption, this book preaches the gospel beautifully; I cried at some points. It's an absolute must for every Christian, even those who are not considering adoption.
A Hope Deferred by J. Stephen Yuille - You can read my review here. This was also an excellent book about adoption, infertility, and the glorious privilege Christians have as being the adopted children of God.
The Family (ideally read by both spouses)
Disciplines of a Godly Family by Kent and Barbara Hughes - REALLY awesome. Easy read because it's full of stories and practical advice, including some super fantastic appendices (like daily Jesse Tree devotions.)
Family Driven Faith by Voddie Baucham - Kind of dogmatic towards things like homeschool and family integrated churches, but overall really helpful in teaching me to value the family and be intentional in every stage.
*Family Worship by Don Whitney - A super thin book (pamphlet?) that changed our family's life. Scriptural, concise, and extremely persuasive and helpful in encouraging a regular time of family worship.
Please give feedback! What books have you found to be helpful or not-so-helpful in parenting? Please comment or leave me a message with your input!
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My name is Hope.
I'm 25, married to a rad guy, and raising three little people ages 1,3, and 5...and I'm now expecting my fourth. I like lime green, Coke icees, and I wear my Crocs until they have holes in them...or melt.
Quick links to some of my posts:
Articles I've Written on Other Sites:
Youth Ministry's Family Blindspot - Christianity Today