Kids may not come with handbooks, but this fall brings a new crop of wise and witty parenting books that can help parents with the daunting task of raising great kids while keeping both their perspective and sense of humor intact.
13 Things Mentally Strong Parents Don’t Do: Raising Self-Assured Children and Training Their Brains for a Life of Happiness, Meaning, and Success
Parents hear a lot about what they should be doing, but psychotherapist Amy Morin’s follow-up to her international best-seller, “13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do,” is based on the idea that knowing what not to do is just as important. Each chapter in the book is aimed at helping kids develop core beliefs that fuel mental strength, and includes exercises for both parents and kids, as well as lists of both what’s helpful and what’s not helpful. As Frederick Douglass said, “It’s easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”
There’s No Such Thing as Bad Weather: A Scandinavian Mom’s Secrets for Raising Healthy, Resilient, and Confident Kids (from Friluftsliv to Hygge)
Linda Åkeson McGurk
Raising children in a Scandinavian country is a little different than what we’re used to here in the increasingly uptight and uber-protective U.S. — babies nap outside in a barnvagn (stroller), kids attend preschool in forest classrooms and have outdoor recess in all kinds of weather, and children are left home alone at a young age. Linda Åkeson McGurk grew up in Sweden, and after raising her kids in America for many years, she returned with them to her home country for six months. In the book, she explores the differences they encountered and shares Scandinavian parenting tips that could benefit kids and parents anywhere in the world. (It will also have you wanting to meet your friends for fika, or coffee.)
Feeling stressed? Most parents answer that question with a resounding “Yes!” and think of their miles-long list of tasks to accomplish by tomorrow for work, home, volunteer commitments and more. That list makes being present difficult, but Gale’s book aims to help parents do just that and, in the process, find calm in the chaos and joy in the less-than-linear journey that is parenting.
Jess Shatkin, MD, MPH
If you’re wondering why teens do confounding things, science may just be the answer. Child and adolescent psychiatrist Jess Shatkin breaks down the research and intersperses anecdotes to explain what is happening in the adolescent brain, which is indeed a very fascinating place. In doing so, he debunks some common myths about teen behavior and explains how parents can work with their kids to make sure they both make it through adolescence unscathed. Parents with younger kids will be interested to know that Shatkin addresses proactive methods parents can establish when kids are still young to take the edge off those sometimes volatile teen years.
The Grown-Up’s Guide to Teenage Humans: How to Decode Their Behavior, Develop Unshakable Trust, and Raise a Respectable Adult
Teens don’t come with instructions, but this may be the next best thing. Josh Shipp was an at-risk foster kid and is now a renowned youth advocate who aims to give adults the tools they need to help the teens they love. He admits there are no magic shortcuts, and instead offers valuable advice for making the most of the rocky road through adolescence. A key takeaway: No matter what teens may say, they still need their parents, and in fact, caring adults are critical to their future success.
Sue Scheff with Melissa Schorr
With kids spending so much time online both in and out of school, it’s more important than ever that parents and kids are on the same page when it comes to taking charge of their digital lives. This book by parent advocate and internet safety expert Sue Scheff, with a poignant foreword by Monica Lewinsky, offers practical advice based on fascinating firsthand accounts of public shaming online. While not specifically a parenting book, it details what families can do to promote a safer, kinder, better internet.
Though this book isn’t specifically aimed at parents, most people could stand to brush up on their communication skills. Whether you’d like to have more productive conversations with your partner, your child, their teachers or care providers, these relationships are sure to benefit from opening up stronger lines of communication. Not only that, modeling how to have conversations that matter is a gift to your kids that they will appreciate far into the future. Maybe that’s why the author’s dedication to her son reads, “I want to be a better person so I could be a better mom.”
Is your family apocalypse-ready? You will be after reading this comic book that’s chock-full of tips for killing zombies, as well as irreverent humor for parents who really need a laugh (or many laughs) — and that’s pretty much all parents. James Breakwell is a comedian, father of four girls under age 7, and the man behind the Twitter account @XplodingUnicorn, which has nearly 1 million followers.
Keeping a sense of humor is a skill stressed or overwhelmed parents sometimes struggle to maintain, but the lovable illustrated duck family of Fowl Language is here to help. This book, a follow up to Brian Gordon’s “Fowl Language: Welcome to Parenting,” captures the good, the bad and the hilarious parts of parenting young children in a way that has fellow parents nodding in agreement while laughing. The phrase, “It’s funny because it’s true” applies here.
More from Make It Better:
- 7 Drama-Free Strategies for Getting Kids to Do Chores
- Teen Depression: What Parents Should Look For and 10 Ways to Help
- ‘The Courage to Be Kind’: This Book Helps Parents Teach Kids Kindness
Shannan Younger is a writer living in the western suburbs of Chicago with her husband and teen daughter. Originally from Ohio, she received her undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Notre Dame. Her essays have been published in several anthologies and her work has been featured on a wide range of websites, from the Erma Bombeck Humor Writers Workshopto the BBC. She also blogs about parenting at Between Us Parents.
Shannan is the Illinois Champion Leader for [email protected], a campaign of the United Nations Foundation that supports vaccination efforts in developing countries to ensure life-saving vaccines reach the hardest to reach children. “Vaccines are one of the most effective ways to save the lives of children in developing countries and I’d love nothing more than to see diseases eradicated,” Shannan says. “We are so close to getting rid of polio for good!”