Parenting is a job that never ends. It’s also probably the hardest job in the world, and sometimes a thankless one, at that.
To remind you that you’re not alone, and to offer some hope and guidance in some of those most trying moments, many experts, educators, and parents themselves have written words of wisdom to ensure that you and your child can have a lasting, healthy relationship.
The Best Parenting Books
Below are 12 of the best parenting books for anyone raising newborns, toddlers, tweens, teens, and adults.
Babies and Toddlers
1. The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp
Every parent wants their child to be happy, especially when it comes time for bed. Happy baby, happy parents. But as many new moms and dads have learned, that’s easier said than done—instead of pushing the snooze button, many babies like to crank up the volume once the sun goes down.
Dr. Karp offers a practical solution to your child’s crying by showing parents how to effectively apply the 5S Formula: swaddling, side/stomach position, shushing, swinging, and sucking, which trigger the calming reflex. Learn how to finally calm your baby in minutes so everyone can sleep better and live happier.
2. Bringing Up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman
From their cuisine to the art of two-hour lunches, the French have been revered for their mastery of a number of skills, and it turns out parenting is no different.
After American journalist Pamela Druckerman gave birth in Paris, she noticed how well-behaved French babies and children were, so she set out to investigate. What were French parents doing differently that led to 3-month-olds sleeping soundly through the night and playing on their own while their parents chatted.
Her discoveries and research are presented here, in a warm and light-hearted voice and with the hope of inspiring American parents with new points of view.
3. The Second Shift by Arlie Hochschild and Anne Machung
The Second Shift may be several decades old, but (sadly) its portrait of how chores and home responsibilities between working parents remains strikingly relevant.
The authors’ research illustrates the positive effect that a more egalitarian approach to child-rearing and household chores had on marriages and the overall happiness of both parents. This is a must-read for parents who are staying in the workforce after having children.
4. Siblings Without Rivalry by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish
Parents with more than one child (or thinking about having more than one child) will certainly be interested in this one.
While some siblings are best friends from birth, that’s not often the case. Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish provide practical tools to help parents deal with conflict, encourage cooperation, reduce competition, and help their children experience the joy of having siblings.
5. Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids by Dr. Laura Markham
Parenting can be frustrating at times (to say the least). In Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids, Dr. Laura Markham shows parents how to keep calm, reduce the urge to scream, and foster an emotional connection with their child that leads to a stress-free relationship.
This book provides the steps and tools parents need to put an end to power struggles, tantrums, and the constant struggle to find the right punishments.
6. Parenting Modern Kids by David Adams
Parenting’s not the same as it was generations ago (even one generation ago)—that’s because kids aren’t the same, either.
Modern parents need a modern parenting guide for modern kids. This book provides just that: keys to modern discipline, child development, building the right habits, and establishing values in a child’s life.
Parents will also learn how to turn the internet and social media into positive forces in their children’s lives, rather than graveyards for real human interaction and productivity.
7. The Drama of the Gifted Child by Alice Miller
The Drama of the Gifted Child explores the reason why many of the most successful people struggle with feelings of emotional emptiness and alienation.
With this book, parents who experienced the roller coaster of trying to please their own parents will learn how that negative cycle affected them, and how they can avoid repeating that cycle with their own child.
8. How to Hug a Porcupine by Julie A. Ross
As many parents can vouch, sometimes hugging their tween can feel, well, like hugging a porcupine.
The change from unbelievable adorable 9-year-old to astonishingly horrifying 12-year-old can feel like it’s happened overnight. This book will help parents prepare for those growing pains and survive one of the most turbulent periods.
Learn how give your kids responsibilities that actually yield results, as well as how to talk to your kids about sex, drugs, alcohol, and peer pressure in a way that makes them actually listen. (And for more on that, see #9.)
9. How to Talk So Kids Will Listen . . . by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish
How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk explores two equally important sides of the same coin: communication between parents and children.
Learn how to cope with your child’s negative feelings, while expressing your own without being hurtful. Discover useful alternatives to punishment that promote self-discipline, understand the difference between helpful and unhelpful praise, and find ways to resolve family conflicts peacefully.
Teens and Young Adults
10. Parenting with Love and Logic by Foster Cline and Jim Fay
You don’t have to lose your tenderness (or your mind) to raise responsible, motivated children. Parenting with Love and Logic shows you how to keep your sanity while raising happy, disciplined kids.
This book offers effective, easy-to-apply steps for establishing healthy control without anger, threats, or nagging while growing your child’s character and teaching them to be self-confident.
11. How to Raise an Adult by Julie Lythcott-Haims
How to Raise an Adult shows parents how to “break free of the overparenting trap” to raise children with a healthy self-reliance without losing their sanity in the process.
Drawing on her research and conversations with educators, admissions counselors, and employers, Julie Lythcott-Haims provides helpful alternatives to helicopter parenting to develop resilience, resourcefulness, and inner determination.
12. How to Really Love Your Adult Child by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell
Parenting doesn’t stop at adulthood. To help parents deal with the unique challenges of relating to their adult children, Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell have developed this guide for building healthy relationships between adults and their parents.
Featuring an online study guide and sidebars from parents of adult children, How to Really Love Your Adult Child is relatable, informative, and reassuring.
Helpful Parenting Advice
No matter the age of your child, every stage of parenting comes with its own questions, obstacles, and rewards.
If you’re seeking some advice, reassurance, or simply a reminder that you’re not the first to experience this roller coaster, try one of these 12 parenting books.
What’s your best parenting tip? Feel free to share in the comments below!