This is the second in a series of posts that I am planning to publish every couple of months where I share books and other resources (articles, podcasts) that have made a big difference in my life. This one is on parenting.
I am sure that you would have read or at least come across plenty of books on parenting. The challenges that parents face today in bringing up their children today are quite different from what they were even one generation ago. The advent of modern technology, smartphones, social media and easy access to information has been a game changer in terms of how they are affecting our relationship with ourselves, our children and one another. However, this post less about those particular issues and more on the solutions and strategies that we have access in terms of raising children so we give them the tools that they need to deal with their future.
What I have found really fascinating, useful and relevant about this collection of books is that they give a multifaceted view on what it takes to be a parent and having a well connected family unit that is in sync with each other.
While the first two books are more about parents, the last three books are focussed more on what it means to be a family and finding ways to connect with each other.
These books show us what it means to find joy in the parenting process and enjoy the all too fleeting childhood by focussing on the day to day interactions and small but precious moments.
This book is written by a child psychologist, Dr Leonard Sax, who has rung a warning bell about the issues children face in today's world. While this book is based mostly on what he sees in his own practice in the US and the research that comes along with it, I do think it is a relevant read for any parent in this hyper connected world.
It may seem a bit terrifying to you as you read it and you may find some parts a bit extreme (as I did). But I think this book gives a very good insight into the external influences that shape our children today. All the issues that have been highlighted in this book may or may not apply to your family, yet I have found that reading it has made me aware of the pitfalls the change in the role of modern parenting.
More importantly, he explores some common misconceptions that many of us may have about raising children. As Dr Sax says in this book, one of the key concepts of this book is that the primary roles of a parent are to embody and teach children self control, show what is and is not acceptable, learn to set boundaries and enforce consequences.
This book is written by contributing editor at Times New York magazine explores what it means to be a parent by sharing experiences of real life and ordinary families. While most books are written about the effects that children have on parents, this is a book about the effects that children have on their parents through different stages of their development.
Indeed, this is what I found refreshing about this particular book on parenting. This also makes it relevant to you no matter how old your children are. She blends together research from different sources like history, sociology, anthropology, philosophy, psychology and economics to show how the role of modern parents are different and more challenging than what they used to be.
As we all know, raising children is tremendously hard work that is at times thankless and yet fulfilling. Parenting exposes us to an extremely wide range of emotions that make our lives more complex and at the same time simple. We know what we need to do. Read the book HERE
This is one of my favourite books on parenting. It is written by a clinical psychologist, Dr Tsabary, and emphasises the importance of seeing and accepting our children as who they truly “are” rather than what we would like them to be. She portrays parenting as a spiritual journey where children act like a mirror to our souls.
The main ideas shared in this book are
- Seeing our children as mirrors which reflect the areas that we as parents need to work on most
- As parents, we need to focus on our own awareness rather than our children’s behaviour
- The dangers of depriving our children of our unconditional acceptance
- How our own fear shapes our parenting and have unintended consequences which is usually exactly the opposite of what we are trying to achieve
- A clash of time zones as a root cause of parent- child conflict
- Paying attention to what our children really need from us
As you will soon realise upon reading this book, a lot of parenting needs to be about innerwork and becoming more self aware rather than focussing solely on your child. This kind of focus has really helped in my own parenting experience by making me much more aware of how I react to my children especially during difficult times. This has been useful for me to remain connected with my 13 yo daughter in this tumultuous phase of her life (which is often quite difficult as a parent a teen or older children).
Read this book as it will change the one person who most likely needs to do so... YOU.
4. Awakening Joy for Kids: A Hands-On Guide for Grown-Ups to Nourish Themselves and Raise Mindful, Happy Children by James Baraz and Michele Lilyanna
This book is a really beautiful one and is all about giving your child the tools that they need to deal with life's challenges, increase their wellbeing, and feel safe and connected to their family and others. This is of critical importance in a world which places a huge emphasis on SUCCESS which often comes the cost of what childhood truly should be about- enjoying the journey and being allowed to simply be who he or she is.
This book also reminds us of the need to strengthen our connections to ourselves and to each other, learn ways to nurture and nourish ourselves so that we can be more effective as parents while we are busy raising our children.
What I find most helpful about this book are the practices that are listed at the end of each chapter. These are simple exercises that you can do with your children. It will help them develop self awareness, resiliency, self compassion, empathy, love and caring.
I have used many of these exercises with my own children especially when they were a bit younger. What you will also find incredibly useful are the exercises and resources that are laid out for parents to embark on their own spiritual journey. Read the book HERE
This book is all about PLAY. It is one of the most important things that usually go missing from our lives as we grow up to be adults. The innocent and simple pleasures that we once used to once get from playing is something that is lost in the humdrum of adult life. The good news is that by being a parent, we get another chance. It is in playing and that we learn to invite joy back into our lives and find ways to rejuvenate, replenish and at the same time, strongly connect with each other as a family.
I have been inspired by and incorporated many of the ideas mentioned in the book. From creating rituals like a family meeting, one on time with each child, family games, bedtime sharing routine, we have found ways to strengthen the bonds of our family through love and laughter.
You can pick and choose the ideas that resonate with you depending on your child’s age. Have fun, experiment and most importantly enjoy these precious moments with your children.
I leave you with the wise words of Rumi (an excerpt)
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
(Read his full poem here)