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

The Books I Picked & Why

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

By Wendy Mogel

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

Why 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. 


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

By Julie Lythcott-Haims

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

Why 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. 


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

By William Stixrud, Ned Johnson

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

Why 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.  


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

By Harold S. Koplewicz

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

Why 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. 


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

By John Gottman, Nan Silver

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

Why 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. 


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