The Books That Have Been Leading Me Through My Off-Road Parenting Journey
In my TiLT Manifesto, I encourage parents like me to Question Everything, writing that:
“There is no one way this parenting journey has to look for any of us, and especially those of us raising children with neurological differences.”
I think one of the most challenging aspects for those of us raising differently-wired kids is that we enter into our role as parents with a certain idea of what to expect, and then day by day, year by year, we find our path becoming increasingly divergent from the one we thought we’d be on. After a while, we’re in completely unfamiliar and hostile terrain, while it seems everyone around us is progressing nicely along a clearly-marked trail.
So what do we do?
We adapt, ask for directions from trusted guides, and trudge our way through the marsh with the best wading boots we can find. And when we get lost or the soles of our boots get worn away, we regroup, stock up on supplies, and go back in. Because the only way to get to the other side is to walk through the muddy waters.
The past few months have been a time of reflection for me, and I’ve been thinking a lot about where we were as a family when Asher was a preschooler compared with where we are today, where’s he’s on the verge of teenhood.
As part of my reflection, I decided to go back and look at the parenting books I’ve relied on for guidance and support along the way. Turns out they tell quite a story. Here they are, a partial list anyway, in chronological order:
2004 (the year Asher was born, a.k.a. the year I thought I could have a zen-like, blissful, emotionally-connected delivery, physically bounce back with ease to my old athletic self, and train my baby to sleep through the night no problem)
- What to Expect When You’re Expecting
- The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth
- Birthing from Within: An Extraordinary Guide to Childbirth Preparation
- Maternal Fitness: Preparing for a Healthy Pregnancy, an Easier Labor, and a Quick Recovery
- On Becoming Babywise: Giving Your Infant the Gift of Nighttime Sleep
2005 (the year I craved a little emotional support while apparently thinking I was smarter than medical professionals and hired my first parenting coach to help with sleep issues and big BIG tantrums)
- Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year
- How to Raise a Healthy Child In Spite of Your Doctor
- Practical Parenting for the 21st Century: The Manual You Wish Had Come With Your Child
2006 (the year I wanted to know what was “normal” and what wasn’t and was desperate for ideas to engage my super busy always on-the-move toddler)
- The Toddler’s Busy Book: 365 Games and Ideas to Keep your 1 1/2 to 3 Year Old Busy
- What to Expect: The Toddler Years
2007 (the year I decided to refer to Asher’s intensity and BIG behavior as “spirited” and, also, thought I had the time and energy to embark on a failed “real food” campaign for my picky eater)
- The Healthy Lunchbox: Sandwich-Free Secrets to Packing a Real Food Lunch
- Raising Your Spirited Child: A Guide for Parents Whose Child is More Intense, Sensitive, Perceptive, Persistent, and Energetic
- Positive Discipline for Preschoolers: For Their Early Years—Raising Children Who Are Respectful, Resourceful, and Responsible
2008 (the year we replaced the word “spirited” with “strong-willed” and realized we were dealing with a ridiculously smart human and all the challenges that go along with that)
- Setting Limits for Your Strong-Willed Child: Eliminating Conflict By Establishing CLEAR, Firm, and Respectful Boundaries
- Helping Gifted Children Soar: A Practical Guide for Parents and Teachers
- A Parents’ Guide to Gifted Children
- The Survival Guide for Parents of Gifted Kids: How to Understand, Live With, and Stick Up for Your Gifted Child
- Your Three-Year-Old: Friend or Enemy
2009 (Um…Houston, we have a problem, a.k.a. the year the sh*t hit the fan, Part 1)
- The Explosive Child: A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children
- The Out-of-Sync Child: Recognizing and Coping with Sensory Process Disorder
- The Out-of-Sync Child Has Fun
2010 (The year the sh*t hit the fan, Part 2)
- Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnosis of Gift Children and Adults: ADHD, Bipolar, OCD, Asperger’s, Depression, and Other Disorders
2011 (the year I was so overwhelmed I needed to stop reading self-help parenting books)
2012 (the year I started to consider alternative points of view)
- Awesomeism: A New Way to Understand the Diagnosis of Autism
- Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason
2013 (the year we got “concrete” answers and I decided to tackle everything all at once and bring Asher into the loop. Also, the year I began homeschooling Asher)
- Diary of a Social Detective: Real-LIfe Tales of Mystery, Intrigue, and Interpersonal Adventures
- What To Do When Your Temper Flares: A Kids’ Guide to Overcoming Problems with Anger
- Asperger Rules: How to Make Sense of School and Friends
- What To Do When You Grumble Too Much: A Kid’s Guide to Overcoming Negativity
- The Asperkid’s Book of Social Rules
- Asperger’s Syndrome and Difficult Moments: Practical Solutions for Tantrums, Rage, and Meltdowns
- Far From the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity
2014 (the year my husband Derin and I started to really get it together and Asher turned a corner behavior-wise)
- Positive Discipline: The Classic Guide to Helping Children Develop Self-Discipline, Responsibility, Cooperation, and Problem-Solving Skills
- The Sensory Child Gets Organized: Proven Systems for Rigid, Anxious, or Distracted Kids
2015 (the year I surrendered to my inner brain science geek, and focused on helping Asher learn more about how his brain works)
- The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind
- Smart But Scattered: The Revolutionary “Executive Skills” Approach to Helping Kids Reach Their Potential
- Mindset: The New Psychology of Success
- Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us
- The Survival Guide for Kids with ADHD
2016 (the year things really started getting, dare I say…easier?)
And that brings us to today.
Life certainly doesn’t look the way I thought it would way back when, when I clearly assumed we as parents would just hum along, business as usual, happily raising our child according to popular parenting philosophies and approaches. But though our path has clearly veered off-course, we’ve still managed to make our way.
In looking back at this list, it’s clear to me that our success in navigating this journey has depended on our ability to continually let go, relentlessly reassess, and be willing to change direction when new information came into play. And I’m well aware of the fact that the journey isn’t over. As we enter the teen years, I know I’ll have plenty of opportunities to keep tapping into these skills.
I wonder what my book list for the next five years will look like?