Top “Must-Read” Parenting Books
If you know my wife at all, you’d know that she’s obsessive about being a great parent. In fact, I call her the “Mommy-ologist” because she’s always got at least 2 parenting books on her at any given moment. (I’m not kidding. It’s almost ridiculous). In fact, I don’t think we’ve gone on a vacation in eight years where she wasn’t reading another parenting book. So, when it comes to parenting advice, what are the books that stand out amidst the clutter? Below, my lovely lady, (a.k.a., “Dr. Mom”) gives us a few of her favorites – and why!
“As many of you know, Peter & I were already senior pastoring a church of middle aged families before we had any kids. So, as you would imagine, our first child was quite the ordeal. (She was the church baby). For better and for worse, all eyes were on us as we entered this new adventure of parenthood. Too add pressure, our firstborn was off-the-charts “spirited” (it’s the nice way of saying ‘obnoxiously strong-willed’). In fact, the expert that made this assessment even recommended that I find a support group! But, don’t worry: everything worked out fine. In fact, all of those humbling parenting moments caused me to seek out all the books, mentors, and wisdom I could find. Unfortunately, many parents don’t do this until it’s too late.
Obviously, the Bible is the ultimate source of wisdom (Jer 33:3, Jms 1:5, Psm 32:8); so, don’t forget this when you read my list below. Also, contrary to folk-wisdom, good parenting is NOT an innate skill. If anything, we all have a fantastic ability to screw up our kids. That’s why we need to treat parenting as a skill that needs constant sharpening. Isolating yourself from advice is one of the worst things you could do (as irritating as opinions can be). But, if you have the right mentors and parenting books, God can make parenting a joy – which is how it should be. So out of my journey of seeking wisdom over the last decade, here are a few of my favorite parenting books!
Of course, there are hundreds of “good” books. Naturally, it’s hard to narrow things down to a top 4 or 5. But, I tried to pick books that are fun, practical, and easy to read. Thus, my truest test: Which books do I tend to recommend the most? Well, here’s a few you should read (In no Particular Order).
Creative Correction, by Lisa Welchel. This is the most life-giving parenting book I’ve ever read! If you have a toddler or older, this is a MUST READ. It is well written, funny and filled with scriptures. (In fact, when you read it, you’re actually encouraged rather than overwhelmed… which, sad to say, is a common occurrence with many books.) But, Creative Correction is full of tools & tips for every age & season your kids go through. So just buy it: You’ll want to read it over and over as your children grow.
Phase Guides: Imagine if you could get a book that could tell you exactly how to parent your nine year old (or 12 year old) – with amazing specificity! I.e., How does a nine year old process God? What are the primarily psychological struggles that nine-year-olds go through. You can buy a phase guide for each of your kids (depending on their age). And they are brilliant!
Spiritual Growth of Children (FOTF Complete Guide) by John Trent: If you wondering: “What types of conversations should I be having?” (based on certain ages), this is the book to help you! In some ways, it’s like Phase Guides in that, it dives into the psychological development of your kid. But if you have multiple kids at different ages, it’s basically a complete handbook.
Nurture by Nature, Understanding Your Child’s Personality Type – and Become a Better Parent, by Paul D. Tieger & Barbara Barron-Tieger Details: For help with kids of all ages. Most parent / child conflict is due to personality conflict. So this book gives you fascinating insights into your kid’s incredibly specific personality type (one of 16!) This book will eerily describe each of your kids (from toddler to teenager) and how you can best parent them in each season. In fact, my husband has an entire page for both MBTI tests and Enneagram!
Revolutionary Parenting, by George Barna — Details: A perfect book to educate parents on statistical causes of success. Barna surveyed over 10,000 young adults who are thriving in their faith and life. He then interviewed their parents and came up with some incredible insights on what we can do as parents to be intentional in our parenting. It’s more philosophical than practical; yet, it will shape your worldview of parenting. So get ready to produce spiritual champions!
Boundaries with Kids, by Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend — Details: For penetrating insights about kids of all ages. This book does a great job outlining the building blocks that create healthy adults. But get ready, you’re going to learn a lot about yourself when you read this. It’s hard to see the strengths and weaknesses of your own upbringing until you’ve read a book like this. Again, this is a must-read.
If You’re Looking for Books to Read with your Kids:
I also wrote a blog on how to bond with your kids through reading books (even if you’re not a reader). But God’s word is a book. Thus, if we want healthy kids, we need to help them get addicted. And here’s how. But, if you need additional books to read, here are a few that my kids loved:
10 Questions Every Teen should Ask (and Answer) about Christianity by Rebecca McLaughlin – This is one of the best books to gear up your teens – from sexuality to gender discussions to God. My newest fav!
Circle Maker (book for students) – Mark Batterson isn’t merely a friend of ours, he’s a brilliant story teller. And this is a great book to help jumpstart your teenager’s love for prayer.
Heaven is for Real – Todd Burpo – This book is perfect for jumpstarting your kids on Heaven. It’s fantastic story-telling. And it’s stinking inspirational.
A Case for Faith / A Case for a Creator / A Case for Christ for students Lee Stroebel (3 different books) – These are brilliant for giving teens a foundation for many of debates that they’ll have in college.
Hope Delivered, Rob Hoskins – This is my favorite book on missions / children / impact of God’s word. It will inspire you and your kids to get more involved in the mission of Christ.
Seven Habits of Happy Kids & 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens (by Sean Covey) Details: These are two different books… (each designed for the appropriate age). These are great tools for teaching the principals of the “7 Habits” to your children and teens. We’ve literally sat down and read these books with our kids. The children’s book version has great illustrations that teach children to be proactive, to begin with the end in mind etc… and the book for teens has incredible illustrations and homework assignments that make it a must read for EVERY teen. (Note: I will be personally forcing my kids to go through this book over and over again!)
“Smart Money, Smart Kids” – This is Dave Ramsey’s book to teach students on finances!
Sometimes you win, Sometimes you Learn: John Maxwell came out with an amazing book for teenagers!
But here’s the bottom line:
The average parent only spends 15 minutes a day interacting with their kids. And no matter how smart you are, this type of apathy will never produce healthy results. For some of us, this means we need to take a serious look at how much we work (or perhaps a deeper question, how much do we really need?) But if you’re willing to educate yourself — and if you’re willing to put in a little time — your children will be a treasure both to you and to the kingdom of God.
For dozens more blogs and messages on parenting, check out my parenting page! I cover everything from “How to talk about sex, dating” to “How to Vacation with young kids.”
Peter Haas is the Lead Pastor of Substance Church – an international multisite church based in Minneapolis. Peter is also a dj-turntablist who produces & tours with Substance Variant. He writes comedy books on spirituality: “Pharisectomy: How to Remove Your Inner Pharisee and Other Religiously Transmitted Diseases” (2012) and Broken Escalators (2015). See www.SubstanceChurch.com – @peterhaas1 (twitter & instagram)