Mummy Must-Reads

By Aneesah, 29 Dec 18

One thing I don’t think is ever discussed enough is that parenthood is difficult — even more so for my generation and the unique challenges of today. 2018 has been full of trials for me personally, as a mother of two young boys who are at home full-time.

I had previously mentioned how my reading habit was reignited after motherhood, and have since found books to be an immense help (not to mention an uplifting hobby). (According to Goodreads, I’ve read over 26 books this year, alhamdulillah!)

I realise that not everyone is into parenting books and guides, but if you’re struggling with something, you can bet that someone out there has been in your shoes and has taken the liberty to write about it. Plus — it’s now the age of information; you either take advantage of it or you remain consciously ignorant.

The following are my top five recommended reads for parents (specifically mothers because really, do fathers even read nowadays? #sorryAbi #jk).

1. The Mindful Mother

The Mindful Mother
The Mindful Mother by Naomi Chunilal

This book was a game changer this year because it addressed many of my internal challenges. It is difficult to describe the mental and emotional stresses of motherhood, but you can tell you have a problem when you find yourself:

  • having depressive symptoms
  • being resentful
  • feeling victimised (“the motherhood martyr”)
  • complaining and whining a lot
  • easily affected by “what happens”, in other words: your happiness depends on external factors
  • thinking that the life you’re living is not the life you deserve

This book, written in the present tense, helps to not only lend an empathetic voice but describe in detail why you are feeling all that you are feeling. And then the author uses mindfulness practices (eg. visualisation, deep breathing) to help you snap out of it!

To be honest, the book reminds me of the skills I learnt in HypnoBirthing, and for me they totally work. I came across a review that mentioned how this book would be for people who are into “New Age” stuff, and though I never considered myself to be of that category (really? Buddhism is considered New Age?), I appreciate being able to have greater awareness of what is going on inside me, and try to apply the tips towards reaching a solution.

2. Bringing Up Bébé

Bringing Up Bébé
Bringing Up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman

This is one of those parenting books that — to my perception anyway — is frequently cited in other books, along with that other Classic on the opposite spectrum, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother (which I haven’t read yet).

I didn’t think such a popular book would be worth reading (such ironic thoughts I have), but I was pleasantly surprised at how helpful it is. It addresses m-a-n-y of the practical issues of parenting; from sleep training to picky eaters to mothers returning to work and relationships with other mothers. And the argument is unique in that it compares the typical “American mom” (which, frankly, I feel that I relate to so well despite not being a Westerner) to various “French practices” that the author observed.

Critics point out how she glorifies the French culture quite a bit, but I feel that is beside the point. Her experience was a means for exploring wider perspectives on how people do things in different cultures, and it helps us realise that hey — maybe parenthood can be a different experience for me too, so let’s give xyz a go.

I would also like to point out that this book is an enjoyable, detailed read, though some might find it too personal or long-drawn. I like it though!

3. All Joy and No Fun

All Joy and No Fun
All Joy and No Fun by Jennifer Senior

Points to love about this book:

  • It’s on parenthood (the experience), not parenting (the verb).
  • It very matter-of-factly states the truth that isn’t stated enough: raising kids is difficult and can be a harrowing experience!
  • It shows that sometimes we aren’t seeking solutions or instructions, but it’s enough to know that many others in the world experience our same struggles: essentially the modern way of raising children is “new” and different from generations ago.
  • Senior writes so simply and clearly. She quotes a lot of research, which might put off some people, but she intertwines the facts and numbers with scenes from her own observations very well.
  • It helped me realise some changes that I can make in order to help my own future experience. Like to chill and tone down on the stress, to not give so much interest in parenting “do’s/don’ts” because there may not be a black/white and right/wrong in the first place, to divide the household tasks more between husband and I, and to cherish the baby moments because kids grow quickly!

4. How to Talk so Kids will Listen & Listen so Kids will Talk

How to Talk so Kids will Listen
How to Talk So Kids Will Listen Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish

I didn’t expect this to be a good read (sorry, I’m a skeptic) because:

  • it sounds too “prescriptive” (do this, don’t do that);
  • it seemed a bit old/outdated and like… just another one of those typical Western advice books.

Yet, I think because it’s very prescriptive, it’s also very practical. I’d say parents of children aged 3 and above need to read this at least once. It covers a lot of our daily communication problems and stuff you might not have even considered otherwise, like how to give praise and the dangers of putting your child in a “role”

And yes, the perspective is definitely “Western” in terms of allowing children to solve their own problems, accepting feelings etc — all positive things if you ask me!

My only critique of the book is that it contains way too many “testimonials”; I’d skip them when they get a bit repetitive.

5. Toxic Childhood

Toxic Childhood
Toxic Childhood by Sue Palmer

This I recommend because:

  • It is heavily research-based and points to many resources for further reading.
  • The tone is very objective and non-patronising, which is saying a lot for something of this genre.
  • It provides a lot of “parenting tips” inadvertently through the evidence that research points to and also directly via special sections at the end of each chapter.
  • It answered a lot of questions that I had (for instance, on childcare and what has been found to be ideal for a child at different ages).

Though I am well aware that no amount of reading could save me from the pain and hardship of this journey (dramatic much), but I feel like the knowledge from books combined with the experience itself makes for a better teacher inshaAllah.

Take care, people!

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