Whining is objectively annoying. It makes sense that it would cause some irritation, but I had a feeling it was bothering me more than it should. My response was this full body feeling of overwhelm and even an inward rage – and it was something I had to unpack.
Because, wonderful as it is, parenting is filled with landmines of tests and triggers, and childhood wounds that suddenly pop up. Truth is, becoming a parent stretches us in ways we couldn’t really have anticipated and most of us didn’t learn to prepare for this.
But through an intentional approach, being a parent can also help us become a better person. That often means breaking dysfunctional generational patterns that have been unconsciously ingrained in us. And yes, that experience can be painful, but it can also usher in great personal healing.
So while there’s no simple “how-to” guide that will make it all easy and solve all our problems, there are many great books to help us navigate this immense next chapter. The best part is, when we embrace the challenge of this greatest new role from an open and heart-centred place, well, honestly? Life opens up.
If I could hop into a time machine, these are the three books I’d read before becoming a mom. If you’re about to become a parent, or you’re right in the thick of it, these books dig deep, are honest, and truly give us insight into what it takes to change and heal:
Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole, MS, RD and Elyse Resch, MS, RD, FADA, CEDRD
I’ve been on some form or another of diet since I was well below 10, and I've never known what it feels like to be free in my body. When I found out I was having a girl, it was a visceral fear that I would pass down my poor body image and dysfunctional relationship to food.
But after a lifetime of programming, I had no idea where to even start in turning this around. Then I discovered this book when my son was born, just 20 months after my daughter. At the time, I wasn’t ready to implement its teachings, but they were suddenly in my consciousness.
Now, three years postpartum with my second (and countless failed dieting attempts), I am re-engaging with this book, finally ready to truly hear its message: diets don’t work. I now know in my core that I deserve more than this vicious cycle, and I’m ready for everything this book has to offer.
So if anything about my story resonates with you, I highly recommend adding this book to your roster. It’s not important that you change everything overnight, but starting the journey of disentangling food from morality and disengaging from diet culture is a step so many expecting and current moms need – yes, for your child(ren), but also for you.
How to Do The Work by Dr. Nicole LePera
This book changed my life. Actually, full disclosure, it kind of blew it up… But then it helped to transform it into something more authentic. My relationships, the ones left, are more real and love-filled – and my emotional regulation is markedly improved (ahem, like no longer feeling so angry when I hear whining).
What’s so great about this book is the unusual level of honesty and vulnerability with which Dr. Nicole LePera (also known as The Holistic Psychologist) approaches the subject of childhood trauma.
This book breaks down the notion that trauma is something that only exists in extreme cases and shows us how the very fabric of our childhoods and familial dynamics may be playing on loop today – harming our children and ourselves.
She provides in-depth tactical suggestions for increasing emotional regulation, off-loading the negative thought cycles that may be running the show in your subconscious, and setting boundaries with family (an absolute must for all parents).
This is a must-read text for any person who is even remotely interested in improving the circumstances of their lives. We all owe this to ourselves, but as parents, we don’t really have a choice but to be better. We deserve a life of joy, and this book is a critical first step.
Open Book by Jessica Simpson
Surprised? Don’t be! This book may not be a practical, how-to guide, but it is an incredibly vulnerable and insightful glimpse into the journey of one mother.
Jessica is candid, open and honest – and yes, she also spills some fun tea like Newlyweds and Mickey Mouse Club gossip. But, she really paints an honest picture of how our childhood experiences can shape our lives in later adulthood and into parenting.
This is a great read if you want to feel less alone in your journey, or if you need some proof that we can overcome traumatic experiences from our past. She shows us that we can deprogram and make the choice to live as better parents and people.
This book dives deep and gets real. Trigger warning on alcohol abuse, disordered eating and body image, and childhood sexual abuse.
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