I have read numerous books, websites and articles that have all shaped my parenting. This is a list of the most influential.

A note on bias

We are all guided in our lives by our personal core values, moral compass, and code of ethics. Different people value different things. You and I might both read the same parenting book and I will come away with an interpretation, filtered through my life experience and values, and you will come away with your different interpretation. It is important to acknowledge that each person has biases that affect their parenting. For example, I tend to align with the authoritative, positive parenting approaches which support a responsive model of care-taking. I do not read extensively on other parenting styles like authoritarian or high-demand (Tiger Mom, anyone?) because I don’t have time. I have already concluded that I don’t agree with those styles, so I seek out books and articles that have ideas and methods that fit within my values and represent my definition of good parenting. The books I read are generally “preaching to the choir” (me). Through multiple information sources all scattered in the same general area of the vast plane of parenting, I learn new techniques and ponder new ideas that build and support one another. This strategy allows me to develop a thorough understanding of the philosophy behind my parenting as well as concrete steps in how to apply that philosophy to my specific child because I’m reading similar messages from many different authors. I am looking at an intricate butterfly wing with many different magnifying glasses angled and focused on different parts of the wing, but I am not looking at the whole butterfly.

This approach to parenting makes me very biased. I am not using all available information to develop parenting strategies. I am not looking at all sides of a topic and making a truly informed decision [see caveats]. For example, if I read Parenting Book A, the author usually offers up some method/style that they feel causes problems for children (perhaps they reference Parenting Book Z); then they describe and justify their style as being superior. I could make a weak argument that I am exposed to both sides of the issue, as described by the author of Parenting Book A. However, if I were a good scientist, I would read Parenting Book Z to see how that author justifies their alternate style. But I don’t. The first reason is lack of time. As my child grows, I continue to find new books to read, all within the same framework. I don’t want to spend time reading all the pregnancy books, all the birth books, all the infant books, all the sleep books, all the feeding books and all the “discipline” books. The second reason is that I have already found good solutions that are “right” for my family. This isn’t me bragging about knowing how to be the best parent; it’s me admitting that I am confident even though the scientist in me knows that I am biased because of the very approach I take to being a good parent! Ultimately, I read what I think will further support what I am already doing. I think most of us do this, but don’t like to admit it.

Caveats: 1) there are a few specific topics on which I have read various opinions from the authors that support each opinion (sleep training, caesarean sections, breast feeding, time-outs); 2) I have completely altered my opinion after extensive reading on a few topics (caesarean sections, homeschooling).


Books (with goodread links)

  • Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting by Laura Markham; link
  • Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings: How to Stop the Fighting and Raise Friends for Life by Laura Markham; link
  • The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind, Survive Everyday Parenting Struggles, and Help Your Family Thrive by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson; link
  • The Dolphin Way: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Healthy, Happy, and Motivated Kids–Without Turning into a Tiger by Shimi K. Kang; link
  • Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life by Peter O. Gray; link
  • It’s OK to Go Up the Slide: Renegade Rules for Raising Confident and Creative Kids by Heather Shumaker; link
  • 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; link
  • The Orchid and the Dandelion: Why Some Children Struggle and How All Can Thrive by W. Thomas Boyce; link
  • The Happiest Kids in the World A Stress-Free Approach to Parenting—the Dutch Way by Rina Mae Acosta and Michele Hutchison; link
  • Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain; link
  • Choosing Cesarean: a natural birth plan by Magnus Murphy and Pauline McDonagh Hull; link
  • Raising Human Beings: Creating a Collaborative Partnership with Your Child by Ross W. Greene; link
  • Under Pressure: Rescuing Childhood from the Culture of Hyper-Parenting by Carl Honoré; link
  • Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason by Alfie Kohn; link