09 Apr Purposeful Parenting: Real Life Resources
They say you don’t really discover who you are until you’re in your 20s. But what if it was possible to have a strong sense of self a full decade before that? How would that change the awkward middle school years? Would college cease to be a time of rebellion and instead be a time to reengage a new community of world changers? Girl self-esteem actually peaks at age 9, so I believe that yes, yes, it absolutely can be done. I wasn’t beautiful or popular in middle school, but I had the distinct advantage of having two parents who believed I had gifts and something to contribute. They didn’t tell me I was awesome at things I wasn’t or give me a false sense of self, but instead helped me focus on the things I loved. Trust me—whatever motivates your child now is a good indicator of what she will one day become. When we understand who we are, we are less jealous of others, exhibit more compassion, and have a greater capacity for kindness than those who don’t. I hope you’ll find these resources helpful. Each one has been carefully curated to address the parenting tensions we experience as our kids transition from childhood to adolescence.
Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. Author Brene Brown provides a practical framework for helping people connect—no matter where they find themselves in life. She believes connection is why we are here and what gives purpose and meaning to our lives. Over and over again, she cautions us to remember that our worthiness, that core belief that we are enough, comes only when we live inside our story. We must own our vulnerabilities and our imperfections. I found this book to not only be applicable to my life as a parent, but equally relevant for the fields of business and education. Corporate managers and teachers will soak up the wisdom within these pages. If you only read one book this year, read this one.
A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. This is a beautiful little novel, first published in 1905 about a rich little girl who suddenly finds herself an orphan and a pauper. I loved it because there’s a poignant lesson about what it really means to be a princess. Hint: Compassion and kindness are at the core. Have your kids read this one.
What Do You Do With An Idea? By Kobi Yamada. It’s a picture book, but maybe that’s why I love it so much. And you know what they say about children’s books. “You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write for children”—Madeleine L’Engle. Or how about this one by Philip Pullman, “There are some themes, some subjects, too large for adult fiction; they can only be dealt with adequately in a children’s book.” As an entrepreneur, I love this little book about ideas. It validates the effort and begs action. Bottom line: Your ideas matter, and you can bring them to life.
Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein. I was originally drawn to this book because I had a four year-old and when people saw how adorable she was with her mop of curly hair and pink cheeks, they’d often remark that she was “a little princess.” At the time, I also had a 12 year-old daughter and whenever anyone would call her or her friends “princess” they meant in a derogatory way. In my mind, I couldn’t reconcile dichotomy. Orenstein asserts, “Rather than raising a generation of Cinderellas, we may actually be cultivating a legion of stepsisters—spoiled, self-centered materialists, superficially charming but without the depth of means for authentic transformation.” She doesn’t provide any real tools for helping girls see themselves from the inside-out rather than the other way around, but she arms parents with the information they need to find those resources elsewhere.
The Curse of the Good Girl by Rachel Simmons. Journalistic in style, The Curse of the Good Girl, promises insight on how to raise authentic girls with courage and confidence. I covered my book in highlights and notes. The content resonated with me because as a recovering “good girl” I could relate to so many of the challenges presented by the girls she interviews in this book. Simmons’ cultural and economic cross-section of study participants proves that regardless of where we’ve come from, we’re all on the same journey. The goal is not to be perfect, but to be a little bit better than the day before, all while listening to our inner voice and having the courage to act on it.
The Drama Years. Haley Kilpatrick, founder of Girl Talk, wrote this book under the premise that today’s middle school girls have it rough. That’s the truth! They spend sixth, seventh, and eighth grades getting used to all kinds of biological and emotional changes, not to mention the travails of navigating that mysterious rite of passage known as girl-relationships. The best part of this book is the Just-Been-There Advice from real teens who survived the “drama years.”
The Giving Box by Fred Rogers. As a child, my favorite show on TV was Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. Maybe it was because you could tell he just loved kids. Maybe it was his mild manner. Or maybe it was the gentle way he made all his visitors feel like royalty. Even the ones still sitting in their living rooms. The Giving Box can be read in one sitting. Fred Rogers teaches that generosity begins at home. He shares stories about real kids making a difference and gently reminds us that compassion for others needs to be nurtured to be natural. This little book will both encourage and inspire you.
How Many People Does It Take to Make a Difference? By Dan Zadra. This is a workbook/journal/motivational guide. Each page provides an inspirational passage and/or a probing question about how to discover your own gifts, along with opportunities to reflect and respond. I’ve given this book as a gift, seen school counselors share it in the classroom, and found it useful for connecting the ideas swirling around in my head to larger community problems. I recommend choosing a page to discuss at dinnertime. You’ll be amazed at the meaningful conversation that will engage your family.
Do Hard Things. Written by twins, Alex and Brett Harris, it’s one of my favorite books for teenagers—because it was written by teenagers. How many times have you asked your kids to do something and they’ve responded with, “I can’t! It’s too hard!” I never dreamed I could do anything that mattered until a teenager at my church raised money to build a well in Kenya. Overcome with awe at both her resourcefulness and tenacity, at age 33 I realized that yes, there’s much an ordinary person can do. And thus began my journey toward self-discovery and entrepreneurship. The Harris brothers remind us that we don’t have to have special skills or talent, but instead simply be open to learning and willing to share our gifts with the world. Just because something is easy doesn’t mean it’s the work you’re meant to do and just because something is hard doesn’t mean it’s not work worth pursuing.
I’d love to know what books have inspired you. As we raise our kids and live our lives, we don’t have to do it in a bubble, even though I know sometimes we all feel like we live in a bubble! We are a community. Please share your favorite resources in the comments below.