April 23, 2014

10 Books to Help You Parent Mindfully.


I am a reader.

When I seek advice, I look for a book. While I follow tips and suggestions only when they run in harmony with my own ideals, finding the right book definitely helps. As a parent sometimes I just don’t know what to do.

Am I over-reacting? Under-reacting? Should I ground my teenager or sit down and have a good talk? How much time on the computer is ideal? What do I do when they fight amongst themselves? Is it best to let them settle things on their own or should I mediate? And if I should mediate—when?

How do I instill spirituality without religion and dogma? How do I explain God, and do I believe in God myself?

I am constantly going over these questions in my mind and sometimes search out other people’s opinions to help guide me. If you are anything like me, then this list may be of value.

Ten books that can help you parent mindfully:

1. Buddhism for Mothers: A Calm Approach to Caring for Yourself and Your Children by Sarah Napthali. I can remember feeling overwhelmed with my first child. I slept with my glasses on at night and kept him in a bassinet near my bed so that I could peek over the side and check on him whenever I wanted. After my second, I, at times, felt frazzled with a toddler and a newborn and this book would have been perfect for that time. Sarah Napthali is a Buddhist and mother and uses her own anecdotal advice to provide tips and ideas on how to keep a clear head as well as how to take care of ourselves.

2. Buddhism for Mothers of Schoolchildren: Finding Calm in the Chaos of the School Years by Sarah Napthali. I bought this book because juggling three children, school schedules, doctor appointments and everything else that goes along with parenting children this age was taking over my life. Does this book prevent it from taking over my life? No. But I keep it by my bedside and on the nights when I need a soothing voice to tell me I’m not alone in the chaos, I pick it up.

3. Momma Zen: Walking the Crooked Path of Motherhood by Karen Maezen Miller. This book highlights early parenthood and focuses on pregnancy through the toddler years. Karen Maezen Miller gives a humorous memoir a spiritual twist and reminds us that parenthood is more than being mom or dad—but an entire journey.

4. Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting by Myla Kabat-Zinn and Jon Kabat-Zinn. There aren’t many people in the Buddhist community that haven’t heard of Jon Kabat-Zinn and his bestselling book Wherever You Go There You Are. This book is co-authored with Kabat-Zinn’s wife and guides the readers on how to use mindfulness in everyday parenting. What I like about this book is that it is not only from the mother’s perspective, but the father’s as well.

5. The Mindful Child: How to Help Your Kid Manage Stress and Become Happier, Kinder, and More Compassionate by Susan Kaiser Greenland. The Mindful Child shows readers how to teach mindfulness to their children. This seems obvious, but happy children definitely equal happy parents. Why not pass on this amazing skill to our children early on in life? The exercises are geared to children from age four to 18 years old so it is perfect in almost any stage of parenting.

6. Time Out for Parents: A Guide to Compassionate Parenting by Cheri Huber. Discipline: something that makes a lot of us parents squirm a bit in our seats (at least I do). What is appropriate and when? Discipline is an imperative part of parenting, yet how do we discipline mindfully and with compassion? Here is a beautiful guide on how to incorporate this. I have not purchased this book yet, but I certainly need to and will soon.

7. Storms Can’t Hurt the Sky: A Buddhist Path Through Divorce by Gabriel Cohen. Divorce is common and most of us that are divorced want the impact to be as gentle as possible. What an amazing tool to guide parents through divorce in a mindful way. Gabriel Chen uses his personal experiences along with Buddhist parables and a bit of humor to impart his wisdom on those going through these trying times.

8. The Mindfulness Solution: Everyday Practices for Everyday Problems by Dr. Ronald Siegel. While this isn’t a parenting book, per se, it is a book that approaches everyday problems with mindfulness. The beauty of this book is that Dr. Ronald Siegel shows readers how to incorporate mindfulness in simple activities for short periods of time like washing dishes. This is another book on my to-read list.

9. Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting by Dr. Laura Markham. I wrote a blog about yelling because I know it’s something I have struggled with myself. Since applying meditation and mindfulness on a regular basis, I have gotten better about thinking before I blow up, but many of us still struggle with this (including me). Dr. Laura Markham teaches parents how to get in touch with their emotions so that they can parent better, wiser and with a healthy perspective.

10. Getting to Calm: Cool-Headed Strategies for Parenting Teens + Tweens by Dr. Laura Kastner and Dr. Jennifer Wyatt. Finding parenting books that deal specifically with teenagers has been a little tougher than books on overall parenting styles. What I like about this book is that it focuses on an especially challenging time in your child’s life. Temper tantrums are different with teenagers and time-out chairs no longer work. Parenting in this time requires a whole new set of skills and this book helps guide readers on how to apply them compassionately and with a calm mindset.

So for those feeling like they are at the end of their ropes, for those feeling like they could use just a little bit of advice and for those that just need some guidance—I hope this list can do just that.

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Editor: Travis May

Photo Credit: Pixoto

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