I was just saying to The Chief, I do believe I have read more non-fiction books than fiction. And I am ok with that…I am ok with what I believe to be a life’s long journey of growth and learning, because I don’t have all the answers but mostly because I want to better myself.
I don’t presume to believe 100% of what I read, but I feel like God has endowed me with the skills to discern what makes sense and what is garbage. That’s how I focus on the books I read, especially when it comes to mothering. I have had books where as soon as someone else put into words a similar notion that had been floating around in my mind, I took it to heart and really adopted that way of thinking. If on the other hand, I read something that seemed so out of whack that I couldn’t latch on to it, than I trashed it. An example of that would be nursing until 3 years old or longer. No way, ain’t gonna happen!
But in the pursuit of learning and growing I have chewed on all these books here, savored some of them whole-heartedly and others I have taken bits and pieces. Reiterating the words of Mathew Kelley in Rediscover Catholicism:
Catholicism is a dynamic way of life that encourages and empowers each individual to become the-best-version-of-himself or herself. Quite different from the pop psychology and secular philosophies of our time, this is not something we do to and for ourselves (self-help) but rather something that takes place in and through Jesus Christ.
The Strong Willed Child
by Dr. James Dobson
The Take Away: If you are serious about shaping the will of a bright, precocious, strong-headed child, and you are open to using corporal punishment, this book is for you.
Me Personally: I have 2 girls for whom this book has been a life saver, and I can attest to its effectiveness. Firmly and lovingly, I used the methods suggested in this book for my oldest daughter and her will is still free, her spirit is alive, but she is obedient to learn and be directed. The two year old is even more strong-willed so 11years later I am rereading the book : )
The Hurried Child: Growing Up Too Fast Too Soon
by David Elkind, PhD.
The Take Away: Our culture is expecting too much of children and not enough of teenagers, in ways you might not expect. Relativism and a God-less society have instituted the proverbial grey area for parents forcing them to hurry children up by blurring the lines on what is age-appropriate and what is not, from the affects of divorce and the single-parent household to dressing, music, movies, and dating.
Me Personally: I see where the term ‘give them an inch and they’ll take a yard,’ comes into play. Patience is key and I know eventually my kids will experience all the appropriate adult things life has to offer, but I first want to nurture them in innocence. I have come to see my job as a preparation for life, for adulthood.
The Mother of the Little Flower
by Celine Martin
The Take Away: It is no coincidence that all of St. Therese’s siblings were in the religious life, she made it her goal to not just raise good kids but saintly children. Her example, and how she instructed them in the faith and in education are highly inspiring as a mother.
Me Personally: I realized how much more I could do to better myself and better my mothering. For example, she sat down with her kids, one on one, and helped them to make a good and honest confession.
Parenting with Grace
by Greg and Lisa Popcak
The Take Away: This book gives you a pretty thorough run through of raising kids up through the teen years, so I have to say it ends up being a book where you can ‘take what you want and leave the rest’. I say that because they make some very good cases for attachment parenting and theology of the body in nurturing your kids but not everyone is apt to
Me Personally: I learned how beautiful it is to view your child in light of theology of the body, meaning babies and little children need as much of us physically as you can provide from nursing and co-sleeping to baby wearing and hugs and kisses and so I consciously go the extra mile sometimes to hold my content child instead of letting them play in the bouncer or with toys . They are a little to soft in their approach to discipline and so The Chief and I use timeouts but also corporal punishment as suggested in Dr. Ray’s book and Dr. Dobson’s book.
Girls’ Night Out:
Having Fun with Your Daughter
While Raising a Woman of God
by Michaelann Martin with Marianna Martin
The Take Away: Great little handbook for date nights with your daughter where the dedicated time is social but intentional and totally Catholic.
Me Personally: My oldest and I have gone on a few of these dates. One time, we had tea and scones and got dressed up. The chapter we followed spurred a conversation about modesty and dressing like a woman with dignity. It was great!
My husband and I also liked the suggestion of taking your kids on a ‘Rite of Passage around age 14. He loved the idea and he already has his with the boys planned out. He’s taking the boys individually to the Boundary Waters where they will camp and live off the land. I am still considering mine with my oldest daughter. It would at least have to consist of spiritual growth, beauty, fun, food and shopping. Hmmm!
Discipline that Lasts a Lifetime:
The Best Gift You Can Give Your Kids
by Dr. Ray Guarendi
The Takeaway: Similar to Dr. Dobson’s The Strong-Willed Child, Dare to Discipline encourages parents to discipline differently than the status-quo. He’s a sort of ‘remember the good ole’ days’ type of Dad, so he jokes about the days when disciplining was normal, but how now you might get thrown in jail. He encourages you to dig deep into your natural, instinctual abilities as a parent and ironically stop reading How-To books. He’s funny and witty and not too soft and easy which fits more of our parenting style.
Me Personally: It’s Dr. Ray’s advice I turn to when the two year old wants to get out of bed, throws a fit, or says no.
I remember his story of adopting a young 3 year old from a foster home and the child had “serious” behavior issues according to the foster mom regarding staying in his bed for bedtime. Dr. Ray says the child tried getting out of bed when he brought him home and he knew right away it was a power struggle. Who was in charge? Dr. Ray used methods some of us might think are almost abusive, he held the child down in his bed (lovingly but with authority) so that the child knew who was in charge. He repeated over and over, “no, you may not get out of bed, it is night night.” The child eventually gave up his control over the bedtime game which elevated Dr. Ray to the authority figure he needed to be to this child for the child’s well-being and safety.
We use similar methods to assure our children of whose in charge. Without that authoritative disposition as a parent the child will grow increasingly disobedient which makes for a hell of a time imparting one’s good wisdom on just about any topic.
The Well-Adjusted Child:
The Social Benefits of Homeschooling
by Rachel Gathercole
The Takeaway: There is the perception that because children who are homeschooled have ‘less’ contact and ‘less’ dependence on their peers that they are somehow left wanting, deprived, and social misfits incapable of surviving in the real world and therefore not properly socialized. Gathercole, however, makes a compelling case that the well-adjusted child is the child that experiences adult-guided socialization in the real world.
Me Personally: This helped me to understand that though friendships are an important part of growing up they are not the end all be all to being well-adjusted and therefore, socialized. It helped my husband and I put less emphasis on the peers and school and more emphasis on family. It also gave us the confidence to homeschool our children despite the negativity that they might turn out ‘awkward’.
~If their were an 8th, this book might make the list, but I have to finish reading it first
Hold on to Your Kids:
Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers
by Gordon Neufeld, Ph.D and Gabor Mate, MD
The Takeaway: Attachment is a normal part of our instinctual makeup and for children up until the last 60 years they have attached vertically to their parents, looking to them on how to maneuver through life. This is a God-given part of the natural order of things. Peer orientation is a phenomena whereby the parents have been replaced by their childrens’ peers in an unnatural horizontal attachment with devastating affects.
Me Personally: I am looking forward to getting to the whys and hows but I suspect school has a lot to do with it. This is the most peer saturated environment that kids are subject to, one that has each other striving for survival of the fittest. This book might just throw us into the homeschooling ring…AGAIN!
Happy Reading and Happy Mother’s Day!