Jun 232011

Triple Book Short: For Parents

Triple Book Short: For Parents

People who know me know that I am a voracious reader.  Among other things, I probably read about 25-30 books per year — and I wish I had time for more.  I probably read about 50% business books, which I blog about.  Most of my other reading is in a couple specific topical areas that interest me like American History and Evolutionary Biology.  Over the last few years, Mariquita and I have discovered and read a handful of books about parenting that have been foundational for us as we work deliberately at raising our three kids, and two of them have roots in some of the same philosophies, psychologies, and research as a lot of contemporary business literature.  So for parents everywhere, I thought I’d devote a book short to these three books.

The first one is Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, by Marc Weissbluth.  Having kids who sleep long and well has been the foundation for us to have a well functioning household.  Well rested kids are much easier than tired ones.  Well rested parents are more effective.  We have found that the principles in this book have consistently served us well on this front.  All three of our kids more or less slept through the night starting at 6-8 weeks and have been great sleepers since then.

Unconditional Parenting, by Alfie Kohn is basically, for those in the HR/OD field, “Action/Design” for parenting.  The principles in this book have applied to kids as young as 1 year old, and the examples in the book go through the teenage years.  Our main learnings from this book have been around moving away from more traditional forms of reward, punishment, and control and towards helping our kids make decisions as opposed to follow directions by understanding our kids perspective on things, working to help them articulate their own understanding of a situation, and helping them see the perspective of others.

Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child, by John Gottman, builds on a lot of the same underlying work that Daniel Goleman writes about in articles and business books around Emotional Intelligence (in fact, Goleman wrote the forward to this book as well).  The book lays out a process the author calls Emotional Coaching to help kids learn empathy and problem solving by showing kids empathy, teaching them to understand and label their own emotions, and working with them to craft solutions on their own, but doing the whole process in a very calm and 1:1 manner.  One of my favorite parts of the book, which is so unusual in business books and any kind of self-help book, is that the author has a whole section devoted to when NOT to use this process.

Parenting is a very personal thing, and there isn’t a right or wrong way to go about it.  I have a friend who is fond of saying that parenting is a little bit like the way comedian George Carlin used to describe “other drivers” on the highway.  People who are going slower than you are “a**holes” and people who are going faster than you are “crazy.”  Only you drive the “right way.”  So true, but if you’re a parent, there’s no more important thing to be deliberate about practicing than parenting, and these books have been a good practice guide for us.  We have found a full read of these three books to be very helpful to us in our work with our kids, and we have been very lucky that our main babysitter has been aligned with us on philosophy (and has been willing to read these books with us).

  • Kelly McKenna

    Sounds like great books – I will check them out.

  • http://www.magillreport.com Ken Magill

    My and my wife's parenting philosophy is more along the lines of: "Do it because I said so. See all the nice things around this house? Your mother and I own it all. You own nothing until you get a job."

    We have a college/therapy fund all set up:)

  • http://www.jetpack.com Chris Tragos

    Good ones – love Alfie Kohn. Having done a bit of Sensory Integration Therapy with our oldest, wish I could find a good balanced book on sensitivity issues in general. In terms of other key books, I'd also add:

    "Parenting from the Inside Out" by Daniel Diegel and Mary Hartzell, really helped us think about the impact of our own childhoods on our family – and develop a new model for parenting beyond our own experiential wiring. Written form both Dan's scientific perspective and from Mary's experience as an early childhood development expert – we are lucky enough to have Mary as our pre-school director at First Pres and she's constantly helping us imagine new ways to deeply connect with our girls throughout their rapidly evolving emotional landscape.

  • Christine

    Thanks for the recommendations. I also have great sleepers. Each gets 11-12 hours a night, and I think that's so important for their development. I'm very interested in the second book, Unconditional Parenting. Going to have to check that one out.

  • http://www.alcohol-rehab-nj.com/ alcohol rehab NJ

    I loved Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child and I never was thinking that his methods will give such good results. In his book, Weissbluth explains the key role that sleep plays in allowing children to be at their best during the day. He points out the link between sleep problems at night and a child's behavior during the day: "Sleep problems not only disrupt a child's nights, they disrupt his days, too, by making him less mentally alert, more inattentive, unable to concentrate, and easily distracted. They also make him more physically impulsive, hyperactive, or lazy. But when children sleep well, they are optimally awake and alert, able to learn and grow up with charm and humor." I can say that I totally agree with his affirmations.