A little while ago, a friend had been cradling our then 13 month old daughter as she was struggling to sleep.

“She required nothing but complete presence,” he said afterwards, “or she would cry.”

Indeed, when he picked up a book, she would wake up and cry. For her to sleep, he had needed to sit with her in perfect stillness.

Now how’s that for a Zen practice?

But good parenting requires more. Perfect stillness at some times, creativity and strong action at others. And especially in those moments when it gets really hard, that’s where the magic happens: we either plant the seeds for further drama, or cut the chord connecting generations of suffering and set ourselves and our children free.

In Parenting with Presence (Nederlands: Opvoeden in het Nu, Deutsch: Kindererziehung im Jetzt), Susan Stiffelman helps parents find peace, joy and transformation through the everyday encounters with their children. She gives many examples of how we can raise our children and ourselves to be conscious, compassionate and centered human beings.

I loved this book. It made me even more aware of how connection is so important in any relationship – with myself, my child and my partner. It gave me a sense of lightness about parenting teenagers, which is not the phase that I am in yet but it will some day. And it is just super practical, going beyond wishful thinking pseudo-spiritual blabla into the knitty-gritty of real life parenting and its challenges.

Recommended by Eckhart Tolle.