The Books That Have Been Leading Me Through My Off-Road Parenting Journey

In my TiLT Manifesto, I encourage parents like me to Question Everything, writing that:

“There is no one way this parenting journey has to look for any of us, and especially those of us raising children with neurological differences.”

I think one of the most challenging aspects for those of us raising differently-wired kids is that we enter into our role as parents with a certain idea of what to expect, and then day by day, year by year, we find our path becoming increasingly divergent from the one we thought we’d be on. After a while, we’re in completely unfamiliar and hostile terrain, while it seems everyone around us is progressing nicely along a clearly-marked trail.

So what do we do?

We adapt, ask for directions from trusted guides, and trudge our way through the marsh with the best wading boots we can find. And when we get lost or the soles of our boots get worn away, we regroup, stock up on supplies, and go back in. Because the only way to get to the other side is to walk through the muddy waters.

The past few months have been a time of reflection for me, and I’ve been thinking a lot about where we were as a family when Asher was a preschooler compared with where we are today, where’s he’s on the verge of teenhood.

As part of my reflection, I decided to go back and look at the parenting books I’ve relied on for guidance and support along the way. Turns out they tell quite a story. Here they are, a partial list anyway, in chronological order:


2004 (the year Asher was born, a.k.a. the year I thought I could have a zen-like, blissful, emotionally-connected delivery, physically bounce back with ease to my old athletic self, and train my baby to sleep through the night no problem)


2005 (the year I craved a little emotional support while apparently thinking I was smarter than medical professionals and hired my first parenting coach to help with sleep issues and big BIG tantrums) 


2006 (the year I wanted to know what was “normal” and what wasn’t and was desperate for ideas to engage my super busy always on-the-move toddler)


2007 (the year I decided to refer to Asher’s intensity and BIG behavior as “spirited” and, also, thought I had the time and energy to embark on a failed “real food” campaign for my picky eater)


2008 (the year we replaced the word “spirited” with “strong-willed” and realized we were dealing with a ridiculously smart human and all the challenges that go along with that)


2009 (Um…Houston, we have a problem, a.k.a. the year the sh*t hit the fan, Part 1)


2010 (The year the sh*t hit the fan, Part 2)


2011 (the year I was so overwhelmed I needed to stop reading self-help parenting books)


2012 (the year I started to consider alternative points of view)


2013 (the year we got “concrete” answers and I decided to tackle everything all at once and bring Asher into the loop. Also, the year I began homeschooling Asher)


2014 (the year my husband Derin and I started to really get it together and Asher turned a corner behavior-wise)


2015 (the year I surrendered to my inner brain science geek, and focused on helping Asher learn more about how his brain works)


2016 (the year things really started getting, dare I say…easier?)


And that brings us to today.

Life certainly doesn’t look the way I thought it would way back when, when I clearly assumed we as parents would just hum along, business as usual, happily raising our child according to popular parenting philosophies and approaches. But though our path has clearly veered off-course, we’ve still managed to make our way.

In looking back at this list, it’s clear to me that our success in navigating this journey has depended on our ability to continually let go, relentlessly reassess, and be willing to change direction when new information came into play. And I’m well aware of the fact that the journey isn’t over. As we enter the teen years, I know I’ll have plenty of opportunities to keep tapping into these skills.

I wonder what my book list for the next five years will look like?

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