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Blog 5.18 Parenting with Trauma | Positive Parenting Coach MegAnne Ford

5 Books that go deeper into Living with Trauma

analyzing tools

Disclaimer: I invite you to take care of yourself while you read. This content can be triggering, so take a break if needed. This information is for awareness and entertainment and not to be a substitute for professional mental help. 

I am a parenting coach. I work with parents to help them build and maintain parenting tools that work inside their home. 

The more we know as adults, the more empowered we can be in stressful situations with the little ones in our care.




  • Trauma-Informed Parenting: The importance of understanding childhood trauma and adopting trauma-informed parenting strategies for empathy and connection.
  • Diverse Book Recommendations: A curated list of books by various authors like Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, Oprah, Dr. Bruce Perry, Mark Wolynn, and Dr. Gabor Maté, offering different perspectives on trauma.
  • Positive Impact: Highlighting the shift from positive intentions to positive impact, emphasizing the significance of understanding and addressing the underlying issues related to trauma. 


 You can WATCH or LISTEN to this content



Listening to your trauma response

It's really important to talk about and understand that our brains are perfectly designed to help us survive. 

Our brain's main job is to keep us alive, especially when it perceives threats. When our brain senses a threat, it activates a defense response, a primal instinct.

As a parent coach, I focus on helping parents remove fear-based punishments. Why? Because these punishments cause pain, and pain triggers our defense response. 

This is good when there's a real threat, but it can be a problem when we think there's a threat that isn't real. 

So, my goal is to lower these defense responses and promote connection, empathy, and compassion instead. Before we dive into the books I've read, I encourage you to explore this further.


C.L.E.A.R. and Kind is all around

This work is happening all around every day. 

I had a vet appointment for my dog, Jude, scheduled for 9 A.M. I also had C.L.E.A.R. & Kind Parents weekly coaching calls at 11 A.M. 

So, I planned to drop off Jude, attend the call, and pick her up afterward. 

However, there was a miscommunication, and the vet thought I was dropping her off at 11. 

As I waited in the parking lot, getting more and more upset, I decided to join the coaching call from my car. 

At 11 A.M., right as the call began, the vet finally called. There was frustration, but the vet acknowledged the miscommunication, and we found a resolution.

In this story, what mattered was how the person at the vet's office handled the situation. 

When I expressed my frustration, they responded with understanding and empathy, getting down on my level to meet me where I was in the moment. They softened their approach, acknowledged the miscommunication, and worked to regulate the situation. 

This experience made me realize the importance of such interactions. It's a lesson in de-escalating situations by understanding and addressing the emotions involved. This is precisely why I do the work I do, helping parents understand signs in their children to foster de-escalation rather than escalation.


Parenting with Trauma, finding education


A bit like a book report, which brings back some memories of fourth-grade trauma from giving a report on Anne of Green Gables. 

Even with those memories, this conversation is crucial because it impacts us directly. 

The more we understand and talk about it, the more powerful we become as a community. 

Despite my fourth-grade flashbacks, I want to share five books that helped me learn, understand, and start healing from my traumas. 

I'll be using a "wave" rating system, from one wave as an easy-to-digest entry point to five waves for more clinical and scientific books. 

So, let's ride these emotional waves together as we explore these books and their impact.


“The Deepest Well” by Dr Nadine Burke Harris

I admire Dr. Nadine Burke Harris for her dedication to addressing childhood trauma, a significant public health crisis. 

As California's first Surgeon General, she worked tirelessly to change societal responses to this issue. 

After completing her residency at Stanford, she founded a clinic in an underserved community where she observed health disparities despite best practices.  

Her book, which breaks down the ACEs study, is easy to understand and includes personal stories. 

Listening to her audiobook gave me valuable insights, and her hopeful perspective made me believe in the possibility of healing. I appreciate her empowering approach to this challenging work. 

In the book, she shares a real story about Jon Snow, not the one from Game of Thrones, but a real-life hero in public health. 

Back in the day in the UK, there was a terrible cholera outbreak. Many doctors were giving medicines to ease the symptoms, like diarrhea. 

But Jon Snow did something different. Instead of just treating the symptoms, he wanted to find the cause. He traced it all the way back to a water well. 

When they closed down that well, the cholera stopped. It's like, wow! 

How often do we quickly try to fix things without looking for the real cause?

I often say yelling is a symptom. It's a sign that something is wrong. My work is all about stopping the well, finding the root cause, and treating that.

This is why she called her book "The Deepest Well" because it's all about getting to the deepest and finding the root cause. It's like saying, 

"Let's stop treating the symptoms and focus on healing the real problem, cutting it off at the deepest well. It's a way to make sure we're not just fixing what's on the surface but getting to the heart of the matter."


Why read “The Deepest Well”

I recommend reading this book because it addresses how adverse childhood experiences affect a large part of our society. 

Understanding this is crucial, and Dr. Nadine Burke Harris explains it in a way that's easy to grasp and apply. Her approach makes the information accessible. 

If you want to delve deeper into her insights, I also suggest listening to her 15-minute TED Talk, "How Childhood Trauma Affects Across a Lifetime," which is one of my favorites. Dr. Harris compellingly presents the information, making a significant impact. 

I often share this TED Talk in my circles, and some hesitate to watch it, admitting they're scared because they know they might relate. 

This fear reflects the widespread prevalence of these issues. Despite the discomfort, facing it is crucial to break the cycle. If you're engaging in this material, I commend you for choosing to confront and address the underlying issues.



“What Happened to You” By Oprah and Bruce Perry  
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The next book I recommend is "What Happened to You" by Oprah and Dr. Bruce Perry

You may know Oprah for her incredible ability to connect people and facilitate meaningful conversations. 

Dr. Perry is a principal at the Neurosequential Network, a senior fellow at the Child Trauma Academy, and a professor at Northwestern University. Over the past 30 years, he has been actively involved in teaching, clinical work, and research on children's mental health and neuroscience. 

His impactful work on the effects of abuse, neglect, and trauma on the developing brain has influenced practices and policies globally. Dr. Perry has authored bestselling books like "The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog" and "Born for Love." The book "What Happened to You" delves into conversations about trauma, resiliency, and healing, offering valuable insights co-authored by Oprah and Dr. Perry. 

What I really enjoyed about "What Happened to You" is that it feels like a conversation between Oprah and Dr. Perry. 

Oprah shares stories, and Dr. Perry explains the science behind them. The format is informal and easy to read, making it accessible to everyone. 

The book encourages us to see our own stories in theirs, and I appreciate how it challenges the common question of "What's wrong with you?" 

Growing up, I often heard that phrase when someone behaved differently. Instead, the book suggests embracing and understanding by asking, "What happened to you?" 

This shift in perspective from judgment to compassion reminds me of a personal experience dropping off my dog, Jude. Instead of questioning what was wrong with me, the person on the other side asked, "What happened to you?" 

It's a powerful reminder that we're all going through something, and changing our questions can shape how we show up for one another.


Why read “What happened to you?”

I recommend reading this book because it combines scientific knowledge with practical application. 

Oprah shares her experiences, connecting them to the research discussed in the book. The conversational style makes it feel like you're sitting down for coffee with two friends. 

If you're interested in learning more, you can listen to Oprah and Dr. Bruce Perry discussing the book in-depth during a conversation at South by Southwest Education 2021, available on YouTube. 

Additionally, you can explore Dr. Bruce Perry's book "The Boy Who Was Raised by a Dog" and listen to Oprah's podcast, "Super Soul," an extension of her Super Soul Sunday. Engaging with these resources allows us to surround ourselves with pioneers who initiate significant conversations, creating a powerful sense of shared humanity.

"It Didn't Start with You" by Mark Wolynn 
🌊 πŸŒŠ πŸŒŠ 

I recommend reading "It Didn't Start with You" by Mark Wolynn. He's a world leader in the field of inherited family traumas, teaching at various institutions globally. 

The book delves into how inherited family trauma shapes who we are and offers insights into ending the cycle. It's a liberating read that addresses the sometimes challenging aspects of exploring our inherited "toolboxes" without shame.  

The author encourages reflection and acknowledges that everyone before us did their best, paving the way for personal growth and healing. The book emphasizes the importance of understanding our roots to empower positive change and evolution.

Looking back at my own story, if I think about the toolbox my mom gave me, it's not exactly what I would have chosen for myself. I might have chosen different tools to take care of myself. 

However, if I ask my mom about her toolbox, she would probably say she did better than what was done to her. 

This realization has helped me feel more compassionate towards my mom. She, too, had a belief that she was doing better than before. If I go back to my grandmother and ask her, she is able to provide different things for my mom than what was done for her.  

The essence of this book is starting to untangle and create space for the journey that brought me to where I am now. Reflecting on everything that happened has empowered me to move forward. It's a pretty powerful realization.

He talks about this a few times, emphasizing that this process doesn't depend on knowing your exact family history. It's about meeting yourself where you are, using what you may already know, and understanding that this work isn't reliant on having all the details.

The book provides exercises, reflections, and questions to help break down and navigate the generational cycles we inherit. It encourages normalizing this process, saying, "Let me bring it up, assess it, look at it, and grow from it."


Why read “It Didn't Start with You.”

I believe this book helps complete the entire picture. 

It's an excellent read after gaining an understanding of childhood trauma, providing a solid foundation for delving deeper into the work.  

Personally, it allowed me to feel empathy and compassion for my own journey, helping me release some of the anger. 

To learn more from Mark, you can visit his website, which offers various ways to connect, support, read, and take training from him. He's actively out there, holding space and facilitating these important conversations.


"When the Body Says No" by Dr. Gabor Maté 

It's a technical and nuanced read, best approached after building a foundation of understanding. 

Dr. Maté has had a family practice for over 20 years with palliative care experience and spent a decade working in Vancouver's downtown east side with patients facing challenges of drug addiction and mental illness.

A best-selling author published in over 30 languages, he is internationally renowned for his expertise in addiction, trauma, childhood development, and the relationship between stress and illness. 

His work on addiction earned him the Hubert Evans Prize for literary nonfiction, and he has been honored with the Order of Canada and the Civic Merit Award from his hometown in Vancouver.

Dr. Gabor Maté brings a dynamic and humanistic perspective to the complex issues he explores in his books. 

He encourages us to ask, "What happened to them?" to understand why certain behaviors become go-to solutions for people. His focus is on finding solutions and addressing the underlying reasons behind these choices.

Additionally, he prompts us to consider how our actions might contribute to the stress that leads individuals to seek both helpful and unhelpful solutions.

What I appreciate about "When the Body Says No" is that Dr. Gabor Maté doesn't offer simple tips and tricks or a straightforward formula for specific outcomes.

Instead, the book is thought-provoking, insightful, and exudes a sense of love and understanding. It's a profound and nuanced read that may require revisiting passages for a deeper understanding. 


Why Read “When the Body Says No”

I recommend this book if you're seeking a broader and deeper perspective on how trauma shapes our world and experiences. 

It fosters a sense of care, especially addressing the societal messages that often ask us to ignore our body's signals. 

Maté explores the impact of not comprehending our stress responses and encourages us to tune in and understand the effects of disregarding our own discomfort.

To delve deeper into Dr. Gabor Maté's insights, consider watching his documentary titled "The Wisdom of Trauma."

This powerful film offers a profound exploration of trauma with a compassionate and understanding approach. It provides an additional avenue to absorb Dr. Maté's wisdom and gain further insights into the complexities of trauma.


"Healing Developmental Trauma" by  Lauren Heller and Elaine Lapeer


This is the most in-depth book focusing on a unique approach to understanding and addressing developmental trauma. 

Unlike shock trauma, which stems from specific experiences like accidents or loss, developmental trauma centers on unmet needs during childhood. 

The authors identify five core capacities crucial to emotional and physical well-being: connection, attunement, trust, autonomy, love, and sexuality. 

By examining these needs and the adaptive survival styles that emerge when they go unmet, Heller and Lapeer offer insights into the complexities of human challenges. Their model, known as NARM (NeuroAffective Relational Model), aims to unravel and address the effects of developmental trauma.


Why Read “Healing Developmental Trauma”?

Although it's a bit dense and reads like a textbook, it offers a compassionate and loving approach to understanding and healing. If you're interested, the authors also have a two-hour presentation introducing the neuro-effective relationship model of healing developmental trauma.

It explores how our responses to unmet needs in childhood can shape our behaviors, sometimes in helpful ways, but can turn into challenges if we're unaware.  

While initially written for clinicians, the authors have made it accessible for anyone interested in understanding this model. 

If you're ready to delve deeper into the intricacies of developmental trauma and explore the adaptive and maladaptive aspects of our responses, this book provides a helpful framework. 

Parenting with Trauma - New tools

I wanted to share these resources not just as a book report but to offer a glimpse into how I find value in them. 

I hope you, too, find value in knowing about these five resources. 

As we conclude, let me leave you with a question: 

How can you start holding and caring for your experiences? 

 This question is not only for your benefit but also to help you hold space for others. 

Reflecting on my experience when dropping off my dog, I realized the impact of meeting someone who understood and connected with my stress. It made me think about parenting, how we meet our children in their stress responses, and the importance of being aware of our own toolboxes to better support them. 

This work isn't just about positive intentions; it's about positive impact, making a real difference in how we connect with others and navigate life's stresses.



If you are ready to take action and steps into awareness, education, or practice, subscribe to the Be Kind Coaching Newsletter. 

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