Parenting, to me, is a complex and intriguing topic, even more so now that I have become an observer and am no longer a mother in the trenches. I still enjoy my grandchildren, but truthfully, it is not the same. The daily battle for mothers can become overwhelming; grandparents get to just enjoy the fun without all the responsibility. As a grandparent, I can step back and be a little more theoretical about it all. I read books, and I think, “Oh, that is what I should have done. Whoops!”
Over some time now, I have read several books relative to parenting. I would like to share those in case any are interesting to the actual parents out there. These are only a few of many, and I am only including these because they are the ones I have read recently.
Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua
This book is basically a memoir of an Asian American who raised her daughters very strictly as her parents had raised her. While many might view this parenting style as too strict, there is a basic lesson to be learned from this story: parents’ expectations can help children succeed. Even if you don’t agree with the hard-line approach that Amy takes, you have to admire her commitment.
Battle Hymn of the Tiger Daughter by Diana Holquist
This book was written, basically, as a response against many of the concepts proposed by Amy Chua in her book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. In essence, it might be considered the American cultural ideology of child-rearing, if such concepts can be defined so categorically. Diana’s story explores, with a little humor, a more relaxed way of parenting, along with some excerpts from her daughter interspersed throughout the book. Holquist puts forth a differing view as to what raising a successful child means.
I found this book interesting, but I think I appreciated it more after reading Amy Chua’s first. If for no other reason than just gaining general perspectives, I recommend reading both. Even if you favor one over the other, you will still glean good ideas from both.
All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood by Jennifer Senior
Differing somewhat from the former two, this book discusses more of the effect that raising children has on the parents, and how some of the modern society evolution has contributed to changes in how parents raise children and how they feel about that process. Jennifer Senior explores the challenges each phase of parenting brings to the parents, often different challenges for the mothers than for the fathers, discussing how modern roles influence these challenges. The object is not so much to give parenting advice, but to help parents understand what they are going through better. In the end, Senior attempts to help parents also see how the process transforms the parents, and how joy is embedded in the challenges. Senior uses specific examples, and the book is very interesting and easy to read.
The Danish Way of Parenting: What the Happiest People in the World Know About Raising Confident Capable Kids by Jessica Joelle Alexander and Iben Dissing Sandahl
For real useful, down-to-earth parenting tips, I think this book is the best ever. Not only do the authors lay out some excellent principles, they give numerous examples. The book is organized using the word PARENT to create chapters for each letter: Play, Authenticity, Reframing, Empathy, No Ultimatums, Togetherness. Every parent wants their children to be happy and successful. This book nails it. It also makes the parents feel as if they could also be happy. It’s a winner!
The Marshmallow Test: Why Self-Control is the Engine of Success by Walter Mischel
This book has some amazing data. It is a follow up on the original marshmallow tests where young children were left alone with one marshmallow, with the promise of two if they waited until the tester returns. The idea was to see if the child would wait and to see what strategies would be employed to help with that goal. Surprisingly, many children did wait, but even more informative, as Mischel brought out in this book, were the results of the later studies as these same children were studied throughout their lives. The bottom line was that those that could delay gratification when younger enjoyed higher rates of success in all fields of their lives. While this book is quite repetitive, and it is easy to get bogged down in it, the information is very relevant to raising successful children. Toward the end of the book, Mischel also goes into some of the strategies that parents can do to encourage children to learn delayed gratification and self-control. I appreciated the information linked to a mere marshmallow.
Getting to Got It! by Betty K. Garner
While this book was written for teachers to understand and help struggling students, I think every parent should read it. It explains, in easy-to-understand language, the building blocks of cognitive structures that most children attain naturally, but many do not. Also, some children get most of them, but may be deficient in one. These deficiencies can plague them throughout their life. With a little bit of insight, parents and teachers can make a huge difference. Garner uses real-life stories to demonstrate the concepts. It is an enjoyable and informative read: a definite must read!
I can’t say enough good about Malcolm Gladwell’s work. I have yet to read a book of his that I did not like. But I am going to include two here.
Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
In Outliers, Gladwell examines why some people are successful. What makes them successful? He looks into their background and upbringing to see what it was that cultured success. This is not your general, run-of-the-mill explanations. Gladwell looks deeper, makes connections that are super interesting. I loved this book and think everyone in the world should read it. Especially parents!
David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell
Another must read! Gladwell explores how, what are often seen as disadvantages, can turn out to be contributors to success. He does this using many stories. The book is interesting and easy to read and to follow. Gladwell attempts to redefine how we think of advantages and disadvantages. He makes some counter-intuitive connections that will change the way you think, and hopefully, the way you parent. While he did not write this as a parenting book, once again, I think every parent should read it.
As all parents know, children do not come with a manual. However, it really helps to have some support along the way. If your goal is to support your children in their journey, support yourself in achieving success. If nothing else, reading books like these help us understand why parenting is so complex. But they offer insights, too. And hope!