When I first found out I was pregnant and for the entire nine months afterward, I spent hours a day pouring over every pregnancy, baby, and parenting book I could get my hands on (does every first-time parent do this?). Instead of tossing and turning with my big belly and sciatica (okay, I did a lot of this too), I was mesmerized by my bright iPod screen and the Kindle app reading books like Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child and The Baby Book.
Those books were great for preparing for my baby’s physical needs, but didn’t do much for preparing me for raising him, especially for dealing with “the terrible twos”–which I actually didn’t believe existed. It does. The books also didn’t help much with dealing with postpartum depression. After studying and reading a variety of books, blogs, and exploring different parenting paradigms, I’ve discovered a truth that my father-in-law, who taught family psychology at BYU-Idaho for 30 years and holds a PhD in Educational Psychology, had already tried to teach me:
Parenting books should be about the parent, not the child.
A majority of parenting issues arise not because a child misbehaves, but because the parent holds negative energy from his or her own childhood that prevents real connection, connection with the self and by that same token, connection with the child. And while I am certainly no expert on this subject, the lessons I’ve learned from these two books have helped me immensely to learn how to protect and honor my child’s spirit while discovering my own. It’s an amazing and difficult journey to recognize that your child has a soul. He (or she) does not belong to you. He is his own being, his own person, that you have the privilege of teaching and your child will teach you.
If you are interested in exploring these ideas further, check out Dr. Shefali Tsabury’s website and her Ted Talk. I’ve posted a clip from her interview with Oprah before. Watch it if you haven’t already. I believe the things she teaches are key to discovering your own self and by doing so, to helping your child discover his.
Here are two books that have helped me on my journey of self-discovery and in turn have helped me become more aware as I discipline and teach my own son.
Compassionate Childrearing by Robert W. Firestone “It is vital for us to remember that children are not our possessions; they are not ours in the proprietary sense of the word; rather they belong to themselves and have the right to an independent existence” (17).
Perhaps the most painful book I’ve ever read, Compassionate Childrearing continues to be my teacher. My father-in-law recommends it as the one and only parenting book you ever need.
The Conscious Parent by Dr. Shefali Tsabury
“It’s no surprise we fail to tune into our children’s essence. How can we listen to them, when so many of us barely listen to ourselves? How can we feel their spirit and hear the beat of their heart if we can’t do this in our own life?” (read more quotes here)
I plan to write an in-depth book review of this eye-opening book, but until I do, let me just say that Tsabury’s ideas are transformative. They focus on bringing awareness to not only the parent-child relationship, but also the relationship you have with yourself.
As a mother of a two-year-old and an expert at research, I am certainly no expert at parenting, but the above books have given me tools that I had been completely unaware even existed. If you are a struggling parent–or just want to learn more about yourself–I recommend them because they’ve helped me delve into myself in ways that continue to change me daily.
That said, I am always looking for more books to read. Comment below and recommend some for me.