BRAVE NEW MAMA
The baby rocks the mother too. Her whole world in fact. V.R.
Sifting through the literature on raising children is an overwhelming task. Time is a scarce resource in parenthood; no one wants to commit to a book that doesn’t align with their values or provide them with the insight they’re looking for.
The following is a (constantly expanding) list of books, podcasts, TED talks, articles and even instagram accounts that have shaped my outlook on parenthood. I want to make clear that none of these are affiliate links, or sponsored, or endorsed, in any way. These are my thoughts and recommendations and only mine.
The order of the list is progressive: if you’re new to connected parenting, start at the beginning and work your way down. Of course, if you’re looking for more information on a particular topic, then by all means, dive in where appropriate.
The Mindful Parent
By Charlotte Peterson
This is the first book I ever read that had me start question North American ideals and mainstream parenting practices. I no longer agree with everything that is written (I sometimes don’t think she takes the ideas far enough), but this is why I think it’s a great first look into this “other” way of parenting, for moms and dads who have maybe never considered this approach before. The book is well organized and easy to read. You can easily use the table of contents to jump around based on the season you currently find yourself in, from pregnancy to postpartum to the toddler years.
The Conscious Parent
By Dr. Shefali Tsabary
If there is one take-away from the book, it’s this: parenting has almost nothing to do with your child, and everything to do with you, your understanding of yourself, and your commitment to changing yourself (not your child!) when necessary. I think they should hand this book out in the maternity ward. It should be required reading not just for every parent, but for every person responsible for the care of others. This perspective is sorely needed: change in your life/family begins with you .
Hold onto your kids
by Dr. Gordon Neufeld
I, like many parents and educators, used to believe that a child’s opportunity, and ability, to socialize with other kids was extremely important if we had any hope of them growing up into competent and co-operative adults. Dr. Gordon Neufeld has forced me to re-examine this belief and why this type of thinking can make it harder to raise our children and youth. How can we expect one immature person to positively influence the development of another immature person? We can’t, which is why it’s crucial that children are primarily attached to, and spent the most time with, their parents and other caring adults in their lives. Dr. Gordon Neufeld examines the root of common parenting challenges and why connection is always the answer.
If you want a preview of his approach, watch his “Relationship Matters” Ted Talk here.
Sleeping with your baby:
A parent’s guide to co-sleeping
by James J. McKenna
This is a very short (as in, read it in an evening or two!) book that dives into the fascinating reasons why co-sleeping has become as feared and taboo as it is in North America today. It also touches on the multitude of benefits to co-sleeping, for baby and mom, and how to do it safely.
If co-sleeping just isn’t for you (or your family), then I highly recommend looking at my e-course to help guide you through a holistic, baby-led approach to sleep. The internet is full of unrealistic expectations of baby’s sleep in the first year, and if you don’t know where to look, you might easily fall into the trap of thinking it’s sleep train or bust. I speak from experience when I say, many people think sleep training is their only option –it isn’t– but google and mainstream parenting would have you believe otherwise. Contact me if baby (or you!) are in need of more sleep, but you aren’t sure how to get there without resorting to cry-it-out/ sleep training.
No Bad Kids:
Toddler Discipline without Shame
by Janet Lansbury
I first heard of Magda Gerber and the Resources for Infant Educarers (RIE) approach when I moved to Austria. I am in love with this RIE. It has changed my view of parenting / caring for children drastically. I cannot recommend this respect-based approach enough. Janet Lansbury is the best English-speaking resource I have found. I listened to the audio version of this book, which gives insight into the theory as well as practical advice to everyday situations in life with toddlers.
Also from Janet Lansbury:
If you’re the type that likes a “if this than that”, approach to parenting, then this is the podcast for you. Each episode is around 20 minutes (perfect for listening to while stuck in traffic!) and Janet tackles one specific challenge per episode . Parents write in with real-life struggles and she dives into exactly how to handle them from an RIE perspective. I have to say, this is very much a behaviourist approach: it looks at the behaviour of the child and how we, as parents, can respectfully and supportively react while still maintaining our own boundaries. This may not be for you if you’re looking for more of a developmental explanation for why your child is acting the way they are (ie: what are the reasons my child is doing this? What are the needs here?).
Less control, more caregiving:
Parenting for Social Change
by Theresa Graham Brett
This is one of the most radical outlooks to childhood I’ve ever come across, and possibly, one of the most important. Reading this book (its pretty short) will (hopefully) change the way you see -and treat- children, from inept future-adults in need of our control to competent equals who deserve our respect.
by Alfie Kohn
To the best of my knowledge, Alfie Kohn pioneered the growing mindset shift around praise and rewards. Namely, not only do children not need it, it can actually be quite detrimental. He has written two books on the subject if you’d like to dig a little deeper: Unconditional Parenting and Punished by Rewards. He has also written many books and articles criticizing the current outcome-based school system in North America. He is quit blunt at times and very enjoyable to listen to – I downloaded the audiobook version of this book and enjoyed it so much I then ordered a paper copy as well.
On bringing Montessori into your home:
The Montessori Toddler
by Simone Davies
If you’re new to the concept of Montessori and are unsure how to integrate the approach into your relationship with your children, this is a great book to start with. She outlines why Montessori advocates for autonomy, and how to make that work for your family. Lots of great ideas, tips, and insight packed into this easy to read and beautifully illustrated book. I love flipping through it.
Mars Medina on Instagram. I love when her posts show up on my feed. Despite working in a Montessori childcare center myself, I’m constantly surprised by the ideas she brings to the table. Great inspiration paired with sweet anecdotes from their life that enrich my understanding of the practice.
Anke , another Montessori mom on Instagram. Again, I love the story-telling behind her posts, her real-life examples of how they incorporate the Montessori into their lives, and how her children react.
On bringing slow-living and rhythm into your home:
Meagan is a Steiner-educated mom who has studied under many of the names I mention above. She has seasonal and celebratory guides and resources, some for sale and some for free, on her website. They are beautiful. A wonderful site to visit if you’re looking for tangible crafts and rituals you can do with your children.