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On Parenting: Find the right resources for parenting and projects

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Samantha Gray NEW

I’m working on a do-it-yourself project. I have a vision for it and an idea in my mind of how I would like to go about it.

Not having done this project before, I’ve been researching a variety of possible approaches, reading about the materials, the tools, the time it will take to complete the project, the costs and potential challenges.

I’m Googling information on quick-drying cement versus pebbles, wood or sand. I’m reaching out to people with experience and asking what materials will be stable but not too heavy for the finished project. In my reading and questioning, I’m also discovering strategies that are definitely less than optimal and where to steer clear.

What's really neat are all the lessons learned people are willing to share to make my project a little easier and less prone to costly mistakes.

The parenting education world is an amazing community that shares experience and evidence based in research about parenting. People often like to say that there's no manual for parenting. It's true there is no manual for raising your child, but we have grown in our knowledge of brain development, child development, attachment, healthy communication, nutrition and effective discipline. The books and blogs people write can help guide us and reduce the missteps and the regrets that we have. They help us learn from what they wish they had done differently and learned to do well.

We have a wealth of knowledge in our community in our parenting educators. I reached out to the Parenting Educator Network members Frontier Health, Highlands Community Services, Ballad STRONG Starts and STRONG Pregnancies, La Leche League/Bristol Babies, Mom Power, our health departments, YWCA’s MOMS R US, TN Voices, Bristol Family Resource Center, Cherished Mom and other organizations and asked them for their most trusted and recommended reads.

Here are a few of the great thinkers, researchers and respected voices our community’s parenting educators turn to for knowledge, motivation and support for parenting, as well as practical guidance and tips.

Their go-to resources include Dan Seigel’s “Parenting from the Inside Out,” Hal Runkel’s “Screamfree Parenting,” the resource “Understanding Dads” and the frequently mentioned favorite, “How to Talk So Your Kids Will Listen and Listen So Your Kids Will Talk,” by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish.

They recommend Sura Hart and Victoria Kindle Hodson’s “Respectful Parents, Respectful Kids,” based on Marshall Rosenberg’s “Nonviolent Communication.” On the shelves are Larry Cohen’s “Playful Parenting” and any of Dr. William and Martha Sears’ more than 40 parenting books.

For child development insight, they cite Louise Bates Ames and Frances L. Ilg’s series by age, starting with “Your One Year Old.” Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Maté’s “Hold On to Your Kids” is a must-read.

Favorites for new parents are Anne Lamott’s “Operating Instructions,” Lu Hanessian’s “Let the Baby Drive” and Barbara Nicholson and Lysa Parker’s “Attached at the Heart.”

Other favorite authors include Susan Stiffelman, L.R. Knost, Laura Markham and Jane Nelson.

These are just a few books and resources you can find in your local library parenting section, on the online READS library in print and audio formats or at the Parenting Sweet in Bristol.

We like DIY projects, and they make us feel proud, but the fact is we do best when we benefit from the wisdom, and even mistakes, of others who are willing to share. Our children, who are definitely not a project, are all the more worth the time of learning from others who have been there.

My five-foot double-helix topiaries that have to look great and withstand a lot of handling may not be easy, but they will now definitely benefit from a much smoother “do-it-ourselves” process.

I’m grateful to a community that has generously lent their study, research, tested and proven experiences, knowledge and passion for projects, and even more so for this extraordinarily knowledgeable community that cares for parents and children.

Samantha Gray is a mother of three and the Coordinator of the Parenting Education Network, an initiative of Bristol’s Promise ( She is also the Executive Director of Nurturings, an international parenting education and support organization (, and the author of Directing Confidence: Cathy DeCaterina’s Theatre Bristol and Let’s Dress up and Pretend (


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