All parents need support. As an authentic platform that aims to support, uplift and encourage mothers and families everywhere (it’s in our manifesto!), the mamas behind makchic share the resources that have personally helped us through our respective parenting journeys.
We hope that these will also be of benefit to you too, #makchicmumsquad!
Parenting does not come with a handy manual, and we are often told that we should trust our own instincts when navigating the many challenges in raising our children. But, if there is one thing that can be said about modern parenting, it is that we are often riddled with doubts...“Am I doing the right thing? Am I a good parent?”
When faced with uncertainties, I turned to books. My babies are not sleeping and eating well? I picked up a book. My teenage daughter is struggling with mean girls in her school? I picked up another. Over the years, I have read many. And here are my top picks of books that have greatly informed and influenced my own parenting approach:
How To Raise A Boy: The Power of Connection to Build Good Men by Michael C Reichert
How often do we tell our sons to man up? That “boys don’t cry”? Psychologist Michael Reichert shared how social norms require boys to be “emotionally stoic, aggressive and competitive if they are to be perceived as real boys.” And parents and teachers can limit “how it is possible for boys to be.”
As a mum to an 8-year-old boy prone to outbursts of tears whenever he is feeling his ‘big emotions’, this book reminded me that this is okay, that he is allowed to feel his feelings and that we can do so much with just 2 basic tools- listening to them, without offering judgment or advice, and deepening the connection through “special time”, by letting them take the lead and focusing solely on them throughout the session. The purpose of both is to allow my son to understand that ‘who he is’ matters to me, that I don’t need him to fit into a box of what I think he should be, and he is allowed to share how he really feels with anything that is going on in his life.
While the information (supported by years of research) can get overwhelming, I would recommend persevering through the dry text. You will be presented with strategies on how to effectively parent when dealing with anger and hostility as they grow into adulthood, potential toxic masculine norms as they develop relationships outside their families, violence and bullying that affect boys disproportionately as victims and perpetrators, and how to keep them safe as they explore their world in the digital space.
The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed by Jessica Lahey
Ever rushed to school to deliver an assignment, or a lunch box left at home? Waded in to referee a playground argument? Guilty as charged! While these rescues may seem helpful, parent and educator Jessica Lahey outlined convincing arguments in her book that the best gift we can give to our children is to back off and give them the space to make their own mistakes and learn from them.
In the autonomy-supportive approach set out in the book, parents guide children towards solutions (not fix or solve the problems for them), allow for mistakes and help children to understand consequences (but not to fear failure), acknowledge feelings of frustration and upset and give feedback when needed. Ultimately, this would help them face increasingly complex and challenging situations as they grow older- nurturing resilience, independence, competence and creative problem-solving skills along the way.
The book shares how we can provide opportunities for our kids to gain competence (helping out with household chores? I am in!), and helpful guides in managing all the pesky issues that will crop up in developing their own relationships and friendships outside the home. There is a huge cost when parents enter ‘over-protective’ mode– our kids will not be able to develop the essential communication skills- “to fight back, speak up or get the hell out of the way.”
Other books that deserve special mention are Grit by Angela Duckworth that explores the concept and why it matters, as well as how to nurture this very special quality in our children, and Starving the Anxiety Gremlin: A Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Workbook on Anxiety Management for Young People by Kate Collins- Donnelly. It is a handy tool that allows them to explore and better understand their own stresses and a resource I kept returning to throughout the pandemic, as both my teenage girls struggled with their mental health during the lockdown and school closures.
The Whole- Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind by Daniel J. Siegel, M.D. & Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D.
The very first book that I got my hands on in relation to parenting ended up propelling me into the world of conscious and positive parenting. After just one chapter into the book, I can understand why “The Whole Brain Child” was such a highly recommended read! Written by neuropsychiatrist Daniel J. Siegel and parenting expert Tina Payne Bryson, it simplifies research-backed brain science and lays out easy to follow strategies to help with daily parenting struggles.
The book is lighthearted and easy to read, with lots of practical examples which are supported by visually captivating illustrations. It equips and empowers parents with ways to turn around difficult situations, and to use it as opportunities to build social emotional security in our children. I’ve tried my best to follow the overarching concepts here (honestly, not that easy!) and feel that the attempts at parenting with the brain in mind has certainly helped my kids to be calmer, happier and more emotionally in tune.
Lu Sean’s pick:
I love listening to podcasts, since I’m in the car doing school runs with the kids for a couple of hours a day. Here’s what’s on my parenting playlist:
1. NPR Life Kit: Parenting
Part of NPR’s broad hacks and tips series, they have experts weighing in to give advice on parenting.
Fave episodes include:
- The brighter side of screen time
- These strategies can help working parents build support and reclaim some time
- Raising kids is hard work. The way we think about it can shift how we value mothering
2. Unruffled by Janet Lansbury
A calming, respectful parenting guide which helped me balance between allowing children their freedom of expression and enforcing boundaries to help them feel safe.
Super relatable topics include:
- Should We Give a Screaming Toddler What He Wants?
- 3 Reasons Kids Don’t Need Toilet Training (And What To Do Instead)
- Stop Entertaining Your Toddler (And Free Their Play)
3. TiLT Parenting by Debbie Reber
My son had challenges focusing and following social cues early on. I found that allowing him fidget items, identifying and meeting his sensory diet, and tapping into his strengths helped him. This podcast celebrates differently wired or neurodivergent kids, and provides support to their parents.
- Janine Halloran on The Power of Coping Skills to Regulate our Kids Emotions
- The Conscious Discipline Methodology, with Dr. Becky Bailey
- A Conversation with Twice-Exceptional Teen, Jordan O’Kelley
4. The Executive Function Online Summit (TEFOS)
I also found this free online seminar featuring insights from various experts useful to help me understand and guide my then 8-year-old in organising and dealing with his schooling and chores:
If you have a toddler at home (and are losing your mind over their many meltdowns!), I highly recommend Big Little Feelings. I got a lot of neat, little tricks and insights on understanding and managing all the emotions that the little ones go through and the behaviours they display. One of my most treasured learnings is the Timer Trick – please try it if you haven’t!
As a parent who strongly advocates for the prevention of sexual abuse, I love to follow content from CONSENTParenting on Instagram. Rosalia Rivera, the person behind the account, is a survivor of sexual abuse as a child herself. She now educates parents and guardians on how to keep children safe, and provides tips and tools on body safety, personal boundaries and consent in easily digestible formats. She conducts regular Q&As, hosts interviews with other experts and (my favourite part), provides recommendations for children’s books on topics of body safety.
I’ve been a big fan of Paula Kuka’s (otherwise known as Common Wild) for the longest time. This Sydney-based artist’s illustrations speak to the heart of motherhood in such a spot-on way, from relatable humour about toddler antics and moving depictions of how lonely parenthood can feel sometimes, to timely reminders about the strength and beauty that lies in every mother.
Her book, “Mumlife: Witty and Pretty Musings on (the Truth) about Motherhood” has cheered me up on many a day, and I’ve never failed to be uplifted by her hilarious and heartfelt illustrations, coupled with her personal, poignant accounts about her own motherhood journey. In her book (released in 2020), she tackles topics familiar to every parent (but not often discussed): from imposter syndrome and parental (im)perfection, to the importance of mental health, and valuing ourselves in the same manner our children do.
This makes a perfect parenting present for a new mum – or a classic to add to your collection for a much-needed pick-me-up on tough days!