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Powerful Parenting Memoirs Every Parent Should Read
Updated on
July 15, 2020

Powerful Parenting Memoirs Every Parent Should Read

By Babylist Team
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Powerful Parenting Memoirs Every Parent Should Read.
Powerful Parenting Memoirs Every Parent Should Read

Parenthood is a lot of things—exciting, joyful, frustrating, exhausting. And though it’s impossible to completely capture all of it in one small package, here’s something that comes pretty close to doing just that.

We’ve gathered a list of our favorite memoirs about parenthood. From single motherhood to postpartum health challenges to the journey of being a transgender parent, every individual parenting story is unique in some parts, but totally universal in others.

One of the best parts of parenthood is knowing that other parents go through the exact same things, so here are some stories by parents who you can relate to, learn from…and commiserate with.

Psst! Have a new or expecting parent in your life? We love these books as gifts, especially to give as a baby shower gift.

In a series of letters to her pregnant friend, author, poet and mother Beth Ann Fennelly writes about all the joys and aches of motherhood that her friend can expect. Ranging from serious to lighthearted and sentimental to cautionary, these letters are filled with poetic language and sage advice to help any expectant mother feel ready for her parenting journey. We love this book as a baby shower gift.

Great with Child: Letters to a Young Mother


Nearly 30 years after it was first published, Anne Lamott’s memoir about her journey through single motherhood is still a favorite. At 35 years old, single and with a new baby, Lamott relied on her circle of friends and her own sense of humor to survive her baby’s first year. With honesty and warmth, Lamott tackles the tougher, grittier parts of parenting that aren’t talked about often enough.

Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year


This memoir-like collection of essays was written in the 12-month period around the birth of Louise Erdrich’s third child, from pregnancy in the winter to caring for an infant in the spring and summer to finally returning to her work in the fall. An exploration of all the emotions, learnings and meditations that come with “the passionate and artful bond” between parent and child, Erdrich’s deeply personal stories are sure to resonate with any parent, new or experienced.

The Blue Jay's Dance: A Memoir of Early Motherhood


After several years of fatherhood pre-transition, a handful of nonbinary parenthood years while mid-transition and finally a few years of motherhood post-transition, Jenny Boylan has learned a thing or two about parenting and gender. Combining stories from parenting her own children and interviews with other parents to create a diverse quilt of parenthood experiences, Boylan’s humorous style and unique perspective as a transgender parent make this a fun read for any parent.

Stuck in the Middle with You: A Memoir of Parenting in Three Genders


Swear words. Head lice. Petty vandalism. Drew Magary’s take on modern American parenting is relatable to anyone who isn’t clutching their pearls. Turning parenthood anxiety into hilarious stories of “do whatever it takes to make things go smoothly,” this memoir may give you some fun (unconventional) new ideas to throw into your basket of parenting techniques.

Someone Could Get Hurt: A Memoir of Twenty-First-Century Parenthood


Fifteen steps to raising your child to be a feminist, as told by acclaimed author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Including everything from open communication to debunking sexist myths to embracing yourself as a whole person, Adichie’s suggestions are wise, powerful and totally actionable for any feminist parent.

Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions


In his typical magically humorous style, Michael Chabon shares stories of fatherhood in seven separate essays, including his viral essay written for the September 2016 issue of GQ. Though the book is short, these brief glimpses into Chabon’s unique version of fatherhood make for a powerful and relatable read.

Pops: Fatherhood in Pieces


After several unexpected health issues following the birth of her child, Molly Caro May grieves the body she knew before pregnancy and rages against her new incontinent, hormonal body. Her honest look at women’s physical postpartum journeys is relatable to so many mothers who are coming to terms with their new selves, both inside and out.

Body Full of Stars: Female Rage and My Passage into Motherhood


Honest, funny, irreverent—McSweeny’s and The New Yorker essayist Kimberley Harrington spares no details when sharing her stories about parenthood. From lighthearted, relatable topics like school plays and bake sales to emotional, open discussions about miscarriage, this memoir embraces the rollercoaster of parenthood and personhood with a healthy dose of frankness and sarcasm.

Amateur Hour: Motherhood in Essays and Swear Words

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