The best parenting books to grow great kids and maintain a great marriage

Mark E. Crawford Author Of When Two Become Three: Nurturing Your Marriage After Baby Arrives
By Mark E. Crawford

Who am I?

I’ve been a clinical psychologist for over thirty years, a husband for thirty years, and a father for twenty-seven years. Being the best husband and father that I can possibly be is my highest priority. I sincerely believe that healthy families are the building blocks of healthy societies. Being a good spouse and a good parent (at the same time, no less) is challenging, to say the least. However, creating a family full of love, laughter, and support during the inevitable difficult seasons of life is worthy of a lifetime of study and effort. I’m constantly looking for resources to help me and others to pursue this goal. 

I wrote...

When Two Become Three: Nurturing Your Marriage After Baby Arrives

By Mark E. Crawford,

Book cover of When Two Become Three: Nurturing Your Marriage After Baby Arrives

What is my book about?

Raising children is one of life's greatest joys, but the impact of introducing a child into a marriage is staggering. Many couples don't realize the relational stress that parenting can cause. Most parents experience decreased intimacy and increased conflict. They may even find themselves asking, "Am I still in love?"

When Two Become Three helps couples recognize the inevitable challenges to their relationship that occur during the childrearing years. It provides practical advice designed to help couples nurture their marital relationship in order to ensure it remains strong during this phase of life and beyond.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Blessing of a Skinned Knee: Raising Self-Reliant Children

Why did I love this book?

This book is one of the first to point out the pitfalls of “helicopter parenting,” even before the term became widely known. Wendy was one of the first people to point out that as a culture, we were starting to become far too over-protective as parents and how this robs kids of the experiences necessary to become resilient and resourceful. As a psychologist, I was seeing the same trend, and this book was extremely validating and empowering as I worked to help parents see that “hovering” and smoothing every bump in the road was actually counter-productive. This book has been around for a while, but it is still as relevant as when it was first published. 

By Wendy Mogel,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Blessing of a Skinned Knee as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

New York Times bestselling author and host of the podcast Nurture vs Nurture Dr. Wendy Mogel offers an inspiring roadmap for raising self-reliant, ethical, and compassionate children.

In the trenches of a typical day, every parent encounters a child afflicted with ingratitude and entitlement. Parents want so badly to raise self-disciplined, appreciative, and resourceful children who are not spoiled. But how to accomplish this feat? The answer has eluded the best-intentioned individuals who overprotect, overindulge, and overschedule their children's lives.

Sharing stories of everyday parenting problems and examining them through the lens of the Torah, the Talmud, and important Jewish…

Book cover of How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success

Why did I love this book?

Julie was a former Dean of Students at Stanford University. She shares how she realized that she was working with kids who had “checked every box” and earned acceptance to one of the most selective universities in the world. However, she could not help but notice that despite their stellar list of achievements and impressive resumes, they sorely lacked the skills necessary to transition to the adult world of navigating normal roommate conflicts or even making minor decisions without the help of their parents.

This book is a great reminder that as parents, our ultimate goal is to prepare our kids to transition into adulthood with the necessary tools and skills to “adult” successfully. I had the opportunity to meet Julie personally, and her compassion, wisdom, and experience are genuine – this is required reading for parents. 

By Julie Lythcott-Haims,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked How to Raise an Adult as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Across a decade as Stanford University's dean of freshmen, Julie Lythcott-Haims noticed a startling rise in parental involvement in students' lives. Every year, more parents were exerting control over students' academic work, extracurricular, and career choices, taking matters into their own hands rather than risk their child's failure or disappointment. Meanwhile, Lythcott-Haims encountered increasing numbers of students who, as a result of hyper attentive parenting, lacked a strong sense of self and were poorly equipped to handle the demands of adult life. In How to Raise an Adult, Lythcott-Haims draws on research, on conversations with admissions officers, educators, and employers,…

Book cover of The Self-Driven Child: The Science and Sense of Giving Your Kids More Control Over Their Lives

Why did I love this book?

As a scientist, I’m a believer in good research and data. This book draws from the literature on how kids develop that elusive “internal motivation” (hint: by having some feeling of autonomy) and how parents with the best of intentions can inhibit this by over-managing kids’ academic pursuits. Of the myriad power struggles parents tend to get entangled in with their kids, the battle over homework and grades is one of the most common. This book specifically addresses this issue and helps parents scope out and see the wisdom in helping kids from an early age to own this process and to develop internal motivation.  

By William Stixrud, Ned Johnson,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Self-Driven Child as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Instead of trusting kids with choices . . . many parents insist on micromanaging everything from homework to friendships. For these parents, Stixrud and Johnson have a simple message: Stop." -NPR

"This humane, thoughtful book turns the latest brain science into valuable practical advice for parents." -Paul Tough, New York Times bestselling author of How Children Succeed

A few years ago, Bill Stixrud and Ned Johnson started noticing the same problem from different angles: Even high-performing kids were coming to them acutely stressed and lacking motivation. Many complained they had no control over their lives. Some stumbled in high school…

Book cover of The Scaffold Effect: Raising Resilient, Self-Reliant, and Secure Kids in an Age of Anxiety

Why did I love this book?

Anxiety is the most common mental health issue among children and adolescents. In fact, estimates are as high as one in five people under the age of eighteen years is likely to suffer from an anxiety disorder. This book provides a framework for parents to help them to provide the support kids need to navigate the journey from childhood to adulthood in a way that encourages the development of confidence and character as they move toward that day when they leave the nest and venture out on their own. 

By Harold S. Koplewicz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Scaffold Effect as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A master synthesizer of attachment science, medical practice, and his own experience as a father, Harold Koplewicz capably and compassionately leads us through the art of scaffolding, from early childhood through the important adolescent period.' - Daniel J. Siegel, MD, author of The Whole Brain Child

Prevent and counteract the general anxiety and emotional fragility prevalent in children and teenagers today - a new parenting philosophy and strategies that give children the tools to flourish on their own.

Just as sturdy scaffolding is necessary when erecting a building and will come down when the structure grows stable, good parenting provides…

Book cover of The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country's Foremost Relationship Expert

Why did I love this book?

One of the best gifts you can give your children is a solid and fulfilling marriage between their parents. This is my number one recommendation for a book that is practical and helpful for couples – regardless of how long you’ve been married. The seven principles outlined in this book are what John Gottman discovered that differentiate couples who stay together and are happy with their relationships from those who wind up divorced or unhappy during his decades of empirically studying couples. Every principle in this book is specific, relevant, and applicable. I apply the lessons in this book in my own marriage of thirty years, and I strongly recommend that every couple read and apply this to their own relationship. 

By John Gottman, Nan Silver,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The revolutionary guide to show couples how to create an emotionally intelligent relationship - and keep it on track

Straightforward in its approach, yet profound in its effect, the principles outlined in this book teach partners new and startling strategies for making their marriage work.

Gottman has scientifically analysed the habits of married couples and established a method of correcting the behaviour that puts thousands of marriages on the rocks. He helps couples focus on each other, on paying attention to the small day-to-day moments that, strung together, make up the heart and soul of any relationship. Packed with questionnaires…

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