12 Non-Parenting Books that Have Changed My Parenting & My Life

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close up of man reading book at home

What was the most profound book you have ever read? How has it changed your life? I’ve written many times about the importance of reading with our kids, but I feel that reading is also one of the greatest things parents can do to build and upgrade ourselves.

Charles William Eliot said, “Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.” We live in a time when we can learn almost anything we want by opening a book. Fiction and non-fiction alike can offer us new perspectives and horizons that we never imagined. We can learn a very specific new skill with step by step instructions or can be inspired by stories, both true and fantasy. Every book out there has the potential to change our life for the better.

Because of my love of books and their huge impact on my life and family, I’ve compiled the following list of books that have changed my life and parenting in a significant way. I’ve also asked a special group of writers, professionals and parent educators to share a few of the books that have changed their lives and parenting. I hope that you will find this list useful as well.

1. Leadership and Self Deception (The Arbinger Institute): You will most likely find this book in the business and leadership section of your local book store, but it carries a message that permeates every relationship and aspect of our lives. This book helped me recognize my own bias and seek to see other perspectives. It challenged me see conflict more clearly and take courageous action to do what is best even when it is hard to do so.

2. As a man Thinketh (James Allen): There is no better book for inspiring positive thought that can literally shape your whole world. This book was written in 1902 and still stands as a positive psychology pillar today. It securely established in me the resilient belief that I can have power over my thoughts and those thoughts are the foundation of my actions and life as a whole. Change your thoughts, change your life!

3. The Bible: The scriptures are some of my most prized books. They have laid my foundation of morality and values. They have given me comfort in times of struggle and need. Especially the teachings of Christ in the New Testament have been a source of greatest strength to me.

4. Book of Mormon: I consider the Book of Mormon a companion book of scripture to the Bible. It is another testament of Christ and record of another’s people’s dealings with God. It has strengthened my faith, taught me principles that have been invaluable in my family and produced in me a genuine sense of care and empathy for others. It is a constant reminder to me to look to God in prayer for assistance with my own daily growth and the growth of my children.

5. Boundaries (Dr. Henry Cloud): Growing up we are always taught to give and be generous. We are taught to be selfless and share but many of us never get any good education about how to set appropriate boundaries and how to say “no.” Boundaries are essential in order for us to be our most genuinely generous and loving self. Many tend to think of boundaries as selfish but this book teaches us how to set appropriate boundaries in a way that helps us be more selfless and less resentful.

6. Standing For Something (Gordon B. Hinkley): The subtitle of this book is, “10 Neglected Virtues That Will Heal Our Hearts and Homes.” I truly believe that the virtues that are masterfully taught in this book could truly heal almost all hearts and homes if they were absorbed and practiced. These 10 virtues have been the backbone of my life and family.

7. Why Marriages Succeed or Fail (Dr. John Gottman): I believe that our interaction with our children’s other parent is their first point of understanding of the world around them. Dr. Gottman is a researcher, therapist, educator and writer that knows his stuff. He has studied what makes marriages and relationships work and breaks them down into usable, actionable pieces in this wonderful book.

8. Today Matters (John Maxwell): John Maxwell is a leadership genius. I’ve had the privilege of listening to him speak on a couple occasions and he is one of the most genuine and entertaining speakers I’ve ever heard. This book expresses that genuine concern for the reader. When I read this book, it was not that each page had some new concept that I had never heard before. However, the message of the book connected with me and seemed to wake me from a almost paralyzed sleep at the time. It made me see each day a little more clearly and be more intentional with each goal and action I pursued.

9. Les Miserables (Victor Hugo): Les Miserables is both heart wrenching and triumphant. The story of Jean ValJean is one of the most inspiring stories of forgiveness, perseverance, repentance and grace, both the grace of God and grace from man to man. After reading this book, I found myself less judgmental and more compassionate. I started to see those in need around me with greater clarity. I held my children a little more tightly.

10. Outliers (Malcolm Gladwell): Gladwell’s books are all fabulous. He has one of the most intriguing combinations of beautiful story telling coupled with insightful perspective and jaw dropping statistical evidence and facts. He makes you see things differently than you have before. I call that insight and I love insight. Aha moments are my drug of choice and Outliers did not fail to deliver those.

11. Platform (Michael Hyatt): This book was the book that inspired me to start this blog. Not only did it inspire me to start the blog but gave me some of the first truly practical, step by step advice on HOW to do it. I have a long history of reading self improvement style books that tell you over and over that you can do it, but this book finally told me I could do it and gave me the education I needed on HOW. Michael Hyatt continues to be one of my inspirations and has helped TRU Parenting reach a half a million people. Someday I will thank him in person for the impact he has had on my life and the lives of those that have benefitted from the message of TRU Parenting.

12. 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens (Sean Covey): This shows my level of maturity. I have read both, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens. Both are great books, but I find myself going back to the teens book more often just because it was more fun to read and kept things more simple. The concepts and principles are the same in both books but the message seems to be more digestible to me in “Highly Effective Teens.” Not only did this book significantly impact my life but it is one that I have used and recommended to many teens that I have worked with over the years. It has been influential in my work and in their lives.

I read a lot and paring this list down to a consumable list of 12 books was difficult but each of these books has made a huge splash in my life. They have changed me from the inside out. They have made me a better parent and a better person. What books have made the greatest impact in your parenting and life? Which books have literally changed you?

Many of the links in this post are Amazon affiliate links. If you are interested in purchasing any of the books discussed in this post,or TRU Parenting’s ebook “5 Jump Starters for Powerful Family Cycles,” please consider purchasing them through these links. This helps to support the ongoing free content here at TRU Parenting. Thank you!

Bonus Parenting Book List:

I asked a few trusted parent educators for what books have had the greatest impact on their parenting and life, the following is their reply…

Erica Ehm: “The Glass Castle” by Jeanette Wells. She said regarding the book, “My answer is kind of weird. The book that had a profound affect on me as a parent was The Glass Castle – a horrifying autobiography by Jeanette Walls – who shared her story of being raised by parents who were alcoholic/mentally ill. The poverty and neglect she and her siblings experienced was horrific. She was definitely scarred for life by her parents. However, there is a tiny lesson that lingered for me – that as much as her parents were terrible caregivers, we as parents are overprotective. Kids are capable of so much more responsibility than we allow them. The idea of gentle benign neglect is something more parents should attempt to practice.”

Becky Eanes :Tough call. Both The Mission of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson and Hands Free Mama by Rachel Rachel Macy Stafford have greatly impacted me.

Casey O’Roarty : Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. Positive Discipline by Jane Nelsen. The Whole Brain Child by Dan Siegel. The Conscious Parent by Shefali Tsabury….. Oh man, I have a huge stack!!!!

The following is a bonus list of some parenting books that have had a significant impact on my parenting. I hope you will find them helpful.

1. If I Have to Tell You One More Time. By Amy McCready

2. 12 Alternatives to Timeout. By Ariadne Brill

3. The Newbie’s Guide to Positive Parenting. By Rebecca Eanes

4. How to Talk so Kids will listen and listen and listen so kids will talk. By Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish

5. Yell Less, Love More. By The Orange Rhino Sheila McCraith

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