Parenthood. There is perhaps no other human experience that can produce such joy and pride while simultaneously grinding whatever ego you once possessed into a slimy, lumpy pulp. Our children test us and teach us and infuriate us. Society’s conflicting expectations drive us to the very edge of our fragile sanity.
In my own parenting journey, I’ve found two antidotes for combatting these feelings of failure and inadequacy: Commiseration and inspiration. I get some of this from my fellow parent friends, but my other favorite place to seek these things is in books. With that in mind, here are ten books that are either commiserative (often hilariously so) or inspirational, to help give you a boost when you feel like you just might be the very worst parent in the world.
1. #IMomSoHard by Kristin Hensley and Jen Smedley
Everyone’s favorite mom BFFs Kristin and Jen published a book much in the same vein as their hysterical viral videos. These mothers are internet famous for keeping it very, very real, and their book only adds to that reputation.
From an Amazon reviewer: “I love their videos, but THIS BOOK made me laugh out loud like a goofball, snort so loudly while laughing out loud, that my partner looked up from his computer, and tear-up, all while nodding to myself because YES, I’m a mom, and it’s all true. Buy this book.”
2. The Gift of Failure by Jessica Lahey
Feel like shit for not driving your kid’s forgotten homework to school? Well, guess what? You can take a deep breath and relax, because as educator Jessica Lahey reminds us in her book, The Gift of Failure, it’s good for kids to experience the consequences of their actions — even if those consequences are hard for you as a parent to swallow.
From an Amazon reviewer: “It will help you put your child’s school performance in perspective; think about the nature of the relationship you want to have with your child and her teachers; and nurture autonomy and independence in your child.”
3. The World According to Mister Rogers by Fred Rogers
Penned by the great Mr. Rogers himself, this book is a collection of some of his most inspiring speeches, program transcripts, books, letters, and interviews, as well as some never-before-published writings. It’s a small book, quickly digestible but also one you’ll want to highlight and keep returning to whenever you need a dose of perspective. It delivers exactly the good feels you would expect from our most beloved childhood next door neighbor.
From the book: “Love is like infinity: You can’t have more or less infinity, and you can’t compare two things to see if they’re ‘equally infinite.’ Infinity just is, and that’s the way I think love is, too.”
4. Raising a Screen-Smart Kid: Embrace the Good and Avoid the Bad in the Digital Age by Julianna Miner
Feel guilty for the amount of time your kid spends on their devices? Miner’s book offers great perspective on the realities of our digital world — it’s not realistic to simply “opt out” — while also providing sensible ways to achieve balance and create boundaries for our kids.
From an Amazon reviewer: “This book is helping me to be more rational when I feel an overwhelming urge to come up with a new set of kneejerk and impossible-to-enforce rules every time I hear an internet horror story on the news.”
5. Go the F**k to Sleep by Adam Mansbach
How could we not include this book? A Reader’s Digest “25 Funniest Books of All Time,” there is probably no other book that so succinctly illustrates the infuriating dichotomy of parenting: I love you more than my own life, but I’m sick of you and need time alone.
And if you want to share the laughter with your kids, get Seriously, Just Go to Sleep, a children’s book inspired by Go the F**k to Sleep and appropriate for kids of all ages.
6. I (Still) Just Want to Pee Alone by Some (More) Kickass Bloggers
The ultimate book series for parental commiseration through laughter, Jen Mann’s I Just Want to Pee Alone essay series never fails to deliver.
From an Amazon reviewer: “I wish these books were around when my kiddo was little, this series is just funny and sooo relatable.”
7. If I Could Leave One Book: Reflections Cultivating Peace of Mind by Jeff Tarumianz
Tarumianz’s inspiring book is a collection of short-but-sweet life lessons he has picked up on his journey to self-betterment. Once a self-described workaholic, he collected these lessons to pass along to his children so that they would grow up with a different understanding of what it means to be successful in this life.
From the author: “Over about a ten-year period, I spent thousands of hours learning about emotional and spiritual health out of necessity, and as I dug deeper, it essentially became a passion of mine. I initially wanted to write a book about the key lessons I have learned for my children.”
8. Welcome to the Club: 100 Parenting Milestones You Never Saw Coming by Raquel D’Apice
The genius behind the hilarious parenting blog The Ugly Volvo gives us a whole new list of parenting “milestones” no one remembered to warn us about, like the first time your baby rolls off the changing table, and the first time baby says a word you didn’t want her to say.
From an Amazon reviewer: “This is hands down the funniest parenting book I have read yet. I laughed so hard that I had tears streaming down my face for an hour.”
9. I’m Sorry…Love, Your Husband by Clint Edwards
Relatable, heartwarming, and funny, Edwards’s book captures the essence of both parenting and marriage in a confessional style. He cops to his mistakes (all forgivable) and details the steps he takes to make up for them.
From an Amazon reviewer: “Buy this!!!!! I just finished reading it (and it was delivered like 3 days ago)! There were times I was crying because it was so relatable.”
10. Confessions of a Domestic Failure by Bunmi Laditan
This one is actually a novel, but the reviews are so unanimous in their praise of it being relatable to moms (it actually sold out on Amazon at one point!) that we simply had to include it in this list. Plus, it’s freaking Bunmi Laditan, creator of the viral and epically hysterical Honest Toddler.
From an Amazon reviewer: “I laughed and cried *so* many times while reading Confessions of a Domestic Failure and straight up free flowed tears when I finished it. Bunmi has created a well written, relatable, real view of what it’s like to be a mom. I don’t often give books 5 stars, but this book earned it.”
And there you go! Ten books to give you a boost when your kids, whom you would give your life for, have nearly destroyed your will to go on. You’re welcome.
Editors may receive samples and/or a share from purchases made via links on this page. All opinions are our own.