The great news is that the pressure of parenthood can be liberating for some. The challenge, of course, is figuring out how to manage the happy chaotic non-stop schedule that everyone knows is supposed to be paid for by the rest of us. Shaping your children’s lives can get exhausting. But like most things in life, it can also make you feel empowered. It can help you hold your head high, be kinder to yourself, and forge your own path.

These parents might disagree with your approach to parenting, but they’re all worth a look — and, yes, a stress-relieving self-help book.

(Vanessa Marino, Caitlin Winn, Astoria born and raised)

Eight days of nonstop activity and panic brings me to my knees. I have cancer in my brain, and life is a blur of fear, torture, and self-loathing. At one point I contemplate having my own son because of my neurotic, homicidal tendencies. Then after years of being told I was not cut out for motherhood, I finally have a baby, and now I fear nothing and adore every one of my son’s terrifying seconds.

Shira Stein, Esq., Manhattan Manhattan, N.Y. I may be tempted to stay home and be consumed by guilt, but having a three-year-old daughter is hard work, too. She’s so cranky, cries at inappropriate times, and gobbles all of the nutritious food that I can sneak into her plate. Not to mention when I have to leave her in the care of other parents. I always feel unneeded as the day winds down. Oh well, I’ll just have to wait a little longer for dinner!

Judith I. Post, New York City (North Carolina native)

We may all have different approaches to parenting. But there are five answers to every parenting question. If I can convince myself that “community parenting” is the most effective way to raise a child, maybe I can, too. Instead of one communal effort by which children raise each other, we foster a family of clans, a large group whose members act as their children’s nurturers and good homes. Parents need to spend a bit more time one-on-one with their kids, providing emotional and physical nourishment that’s as far from the perpetual nagging and guilting the world and many psychologists recommend. Perhaps even a longer vacation, outside the living room and kitchen, would make children wiser, more self-reliant, and better integrated in the world.

Mary N. Ellen Gibbons, Madeira Park, Ohio I always loved my father (the military guy) when he was fighting in WWII, but during the past year I’ve realized how really important it is to be allowed to do things on my own to me. I’ve learned that no matter how hard the world tries to intimidate me, I can’t be stopped.

Rhonda Ford, Glastonbury, Connecticut (Tennessee native)

Keeping control in the middle of chaos can be tricky, but it can also be exhilarating. Try to aim for an ever-faster pace, but don’t forget to prioritize slow, fun things. Play with my 3-year-old, potty-train her, and challenge her to a sing-along with Cee Lo Green (possibly the Coolest Dad Ever). Staying mellow takes practice, but I promise you’ll enjoy it more!