Below are some books and other resources which seem to help the most. I look for those books which address parents’ and children’s feelings.
I contributed to these first three….
The Bean Seed, by Judith Bush and Robert Spottswood
This tells the story of a little bean seed which is first accidentally dropped and forgotten, then found by some responsible gardeners. Will this little survivor decide it is safe to sprout into a healthy plant?…..
Creating Capacity for Attachment, edited by Art Becker-Weidman and Deb Shell
I particularly like the final chapter
A fair amount of theory and technique for DDP therapists, and some solid writing by and for parents.
“I read Creating Capacity over again. That’s the book I got the most out of. I understood more brain stuff this time.”
– adoptive mother of 12 y.o. special needs child
Curiosity is especially helpful when the child makes distorted statements. Instead of reacting with escalation or (worse) lecturing, we can get curious about the distortion, and what it is like to have it. Practice ahead of time to avoid sarcasm, even accidental.
“My mom hates me.”
“Huh. How do you know? When did you find out? How do you handle it? Why do you think she does that? [very big mystery to kids: grown-ups’ motives]”
Attachment Parenting, edited by Art Becker-Weidman and Deb Shell
This book is another fine group project, edited by Arthur Becker-Weidman and Deborah Shell. It provides some practical and usable approaches to help children develop a healthier and more secure attachment. Attachment Parenting covers a wide range of topics, from basic principles to detailed suggestions for organizing the child’s room, dealing with schools’ concerns, and problem-solving.
Chapters on sensory integration, art therapy at home, narratives, and Theraplay give parents an idea of the range of ways to help build attachment with the parent or caretaker. And chapters on neuropsychological issues, mindfulness, and parent’s use of self are also helpful. The book includes two chapters by parents discussing what helped them. Finally (I like this chapter) the book ends with a comprehensive chapter on resources for parents.
More books which include feelings…
Best puberty/sexuality book for kids:
Harris, R. (1996). It’s perfectly normal: Changing bodies, growing up, sex and sexual health. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press.
This cartoon-illustrated walk through puberty is inclusive of race, sexual orientation, handicap, gender and body-type. It talks about the importance of feelings when getting close to other people. Parents can check it out, then leave it laying around if they approve. (By contrast a similar book for girls from American Girl Doll — showing doll-perfect uniform bodies — has a tiny nod to diversity but ample attention to leg shaving. Stereotypes anyone?)
Best divorce book for kids:
Brown, L. K., & Brown, M. (1986). Dinosaurs divorce: A guide for changing families. Boston, MA: Little Brown & Company.
Colorful, kind, positive, well-researched (interviewed lots of real kids), and includes a page kids love – on how KIDS can feel when parents break up. Goes on to show healthy examples (using the dinosaur family) of how kids can handle parents’ dating, new step-siblings, and refusing to be in the middle of parents’ arguments.
Best divorce book for parents:
Wolf, A. (1998). Why did you have to get a divorce? And when can I get a hamster?: A Guide To Parenting Through a Divorce. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
Best story/picture books for kids:
Bush, J., Spottswood, R. (2005). The bean seed. Hartland, VT: Adoption Conversations. 802-436-1488. $10.
A short colorful picture book for learning to trust again after maltreatment. Younger survivors with safe parents have been known to respond, “That’s like me!” Story has a positive ending and is not re-traumatizing.
Jarrell, R. (1996). The Animal Family (1st HarperCollins ed.) New York: HarperCollins.
For bedtime chapter reading, it’s hard to beat Randall Jarrell’s classy old, simple, calm, quirky story of an orphaned hunter hermit who finds one after another fantastic members with which to form a family. (Caution: one orphan washes up in a canoe, in which the original parent has died.) From magical to practical, the unspoken theme is about connection and relationship and making room for a range of feelings as each imperfect new member is accepted. A kind story, sparingly illustrated by Maurice Sendak.
Minarik, E. H. (1992). Little bear. New York: Harper Collins Juvenile Books.
Help connecting with upset children
Clarke, J. I. (1999). Time-in: When time-out doesn’t work. Seattle, WA: Parenting Press.
When children are acting out and dysregulating, they usually need more of our organizing, strength and wisdom — not less. Consider a time-in policy.
Eldridge, S. (1999). Twenty things adopted kids wish their adoptive parents knew. New York: Dell Publishers.
While the 20 ideas presented could be described on a one or two-page handout, the concept is excellent.
Faber, A. & Mazlish, E. (2002). How to talk so kids will listen and listen so kids will talk. New York: HarperCollins.
Written by two moms. I often recommend this old standby. It pays attention to feelings and includes examples of how to be mad in ways kids can hear. Nice bits on how to give empathy instead of trying to solve the problem right away. (Look up pages under “empathy”.) Very fine book.
Hughes, D. A. (2006). Building the bonds of attachment: Awakening love in deeply troubled children (2nd ed.). Lanham: Jason Aronson.
Consistently recommended by caretakers of struggling adoptees. Most parents find something personally enriching in this composite story of a child going through maltreatment, failed placements and finally empathic attachment therapy and adoption. You can skip the initial maltreatment story if you prefer. This latest edition pays increased attention to the experiences and needs of the parents.
Lacher, D. B., Nichols, T., & May, J. C. (2005). Connecting with kids through stories: Using Narratives to facilitate attachment in adopted children. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
I heard Todd Nicols and Joanne May in Albuquerque in 2005, and I bought five copies. It will put your thoughtful creativity to work making up four kinds of therapuetic stories, depending on what your child needs at the time.
Helpful background reading
Teen Voices magazine [hardcopy and website].
A healthy teen girl magazine, without advertising. It’s by teen girls for teen girls and is solid on health, diversity, politics, issues and activism. (For preteen girls, try New Moon magazine, also without advertising). New online feature is Guidance for Grown-ups, which supports active discussion around issues facing teens. Excellent article in Volume 15:2 – “Teacher or Abuser? Dealing with Sexual Harassment in School.” www.teenvoices.com
Payne, R. (2003). A Framework for Understanding Poverty. Highlands, Texas, aha! Process, Inc.
Ruby Payne’s book on understanding poverty is the best I’ve found to help us grasp the culture gap at work for some survivors. Her simple chart — comparing the values supported by life as wealthy, versus middle class, versus poor — is itself worth the small price of the book. Middle class parents might not have expected a foster child’s way of using language for survival, seeing people as property, or expecting entertainment in personal relationships.
Payne introduces us to the differences in values around various issues. Food: in poverty we ask Did you get enough? Middle class will ask Did you like it? Wealth asks Was it presented well? Social emphasis: in poverty we include people we like; in the middle class we value people for self-sufficiency and self-governance; wealth does not necessarily value people, but emphasizes social exclusion. Get this book.
Siegel, D. & Hartzel, M. (2003). Parenting from the inside out: How a deeper self-understanding can help you raise children who thrive. New York: J. P. Tarcher.
For up through age 11:
Anthony Wolf has written several empathic, conversational books for parents of young kids, of teens, of siblings and of kids in divorce. Though Wolf stops short of discussing wounded children with serious shame, rage and attachment problems, his readable writing style makes this an easy way to regain compassion for kids during hard times. Then we are better able to help.
Wolf, A.(1996). It’s not fair, Jeremy Spencer’s parents let him stay up all night!: A guide to the tougher parts of parenting. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
Wolf, A. (2000). The secret of parenting: How to be in charge of today’s kids—from toddlers to preteens—without threats or punishment. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
For over age 11:
Wolf, A. (1991). Get out of my life, but first could you drive me & Cheryl to the mall: A parent’s guide to the new teenager, revised and updated. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
For parents divorcing:
Wolf, A. (1998). Why did you have to get a divorce? And when can I get a hamster?: A guide to parenting through a divorce. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux.