Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Parenting Books

During several conversations lately, and many more over the years, I have been asked to recommend parenting books. I love to read, so my list is long...but I will add what ages these apply to and when to read them for those of you who love to read less. I do own all of these books, so if you want to borrow any, please just ask.

A Woman After God's Own Heart, by Elizabeth Elliot

Are you getting married. Read this. Are you a mom or going to be a mom. Read this. Are you female? Read this. Truly, this is one of the most practical, instantly applicable, motivating books I have ever read. It's an easy read, and I have gone through 2 copies (and this second one is quite worn) because I read it every year and still keep learning from it. You cannot be a godly parent if you are not a godly person. Period. So while there is a large section on parenting, the entire book is valuable.

Shepherding a Child's Heart, by Tedd Tripp

Whether you know it or not, you have a philosophy of parenting. This has really hit home with me because I have been developing a philosophy of education as I am starting to homeschool. If we don't intentionally develop a Biblical philosophy, we will adopt a worldly one. Tripp's book gives a foundation for always getting to the heart of behavior. Why is your child acting the way he/she is? What is the root, what sin is involved, and how can you speak to their heart instead of simply addressing outward behavior. This book is a little frustrating for parents of infants, because much of it cannot be applied until your child is older. However, because it helps you develop a philosophy of parenting that focuses on shepherding or guiding the heart of a child, I believe it should be read during pregnancy and then again when your child is around 2.

Successful Christian Parenting, by John MacArthur

Biblical principles applied to parenting. Not an easy read, but not incredibly difficult either. Requires you to apply Scripture properly to the greatest job on earth. The cover reads: Raising your child with care, compassion, and common sense. I agree this book helps you do just that. Like Shepherding a Child's Heart, there is a lot of foundational stuff in here, so I recommend anyone who ever wants to be a parent (or who already is) read this book, but again you will more than likely come back to it again.

The Mission of Motherhood and The Ministry of Motherhood, by Sally Clarkson

Based on a set of principles the author planned out with her husband, this book is practical in nature and draws you deeply into truly loving, nurturing and protecting the heart of your child. The principles are Grace, Inspiration, Faith, Training, and Service (GIFTS). You are taught to see each moment with your children (particularly the frustrating ones) as a time you can impart a gift. Grace is the one I have used most regularly. For instance, if I ask a child to do something and they respond negatively, I might say (not always, but sometimes): "Sweetie, that was not the right way to answer mom. It was not respectful or obedient. You deserve discipline, but I would like to give you grace. Let's start a do-over." Then we repeat the scenario, and inevitably they answer positively and do what I have asked. They understand grace more, and will be more likely to extend it to others and receive it from their Savior.

These books are easy to read, and hard to implement. I work on one principle at a time, but having read them several times I have found that at least I stop and think before responding to a disobedient child...most of the time.

Creative Correction, by Lisa Welchel

Buy it. Put it on your bookshelf. When your kids are preschool age, start pulling it out. This easy to read book filled with real life stories is like an encyclopedia of truly creative correction. I have used it more times than I can count. Some are quick and quite funny: Have a child who forgets to turn off lights? Make them go a whole day without using any electricity. (The goal here is to promote self-reliance and conquer forgetfulness.) Sow seeds of Peace: Buy a bag of sunflower seeds (always a kid favorite) but only hand them out when you see your kids getting along.

Others take time. My favorite, and one we have used with Mckenna lately, is to have a child who says a hurtful thing to a sibling go outside and pound a nail into a piece of wood for each offense. When there are several nails in the wood, let it sit outside in the rain. Then, each time there is an offense, have the child pull one nail out. Explain that you can "take back" your words with a sincere apology, but the hole remains and there is often rust and decay. We cannot actually remove the hole, and we damage people and our relationships with them.

You must own this book! But, if you cannot buy it and need it now, I have 2 copies, so just ask.

Family Based Faith, by Voddie Baucham

A new addition to my parenting library, I found this book to be wonderfully idealistic, but practical all a the same time. My favorite concept is that parents are to train their sons to become husbands and fathers, and their daughters to become wives and mothers. After all, who else is going to teach a son how to chop wood, change oil, empty a dishwasher, buy flowers, hold a door open, play with a baby....etc? And who will teach your daughter to be efficient in chores, caring with a bandaid, competent in the kitchen, or handy with a screwdriver? And most importantly, who besides a parent is equipped to train children in God's Word and His ways?

This book I recommend with reservation. It is extreme in some areas, too extreme for me. Or perhaps I should say too idealistic. For instance, he is anti youth ministry and Sunday School, because parents should be the ones training their children spiritually. While I totally agree, first of all most parents are not doing that, and secondly, there are so many kids from non-Christian homes who benefit from being in these ministries and around Christians (both peers and leaders) that to do away with them altogether does not work. It did reinforce our practice of having our kids in service with us from time to time, and not always in Children's Church, so that we can teach them the ways of the church, so that they can sit still that long and learn from the pastor, join in corporate worship and see communion taking place.

Grace Based Parenting, by Dr. Tim Kimmel

The concept of this book is that as God has raised us up with compassion, nurturing, caring, and forgiveness, so shall we raise our children. One of my favorite quotes is: Rules not tempered by grace block relationships with our children and lead to rebellion. On the other side, relationships without rules don't result in grace either.

A semi long, slightly idealistic book, Grace Based Parenting would be very good for parents who tend towards legalism or militaristic strictness. If you don't think you are like that, but were raised by such parents, I would still recommend you read this. It is not at the top of my list, but a worthy read.

So there you have my list. What books have you read and learned from (or read and NOT agreed with)?


Misty said...

I haven't read any of them, but the titles look interesting. I will have to check them out.

Heather said...

Don't Make Me Count to Three by Ginger Plowman- she takes the truths in Shepherding a Child's Heart and makes them marvelously practical. She has a nifty chart with sin issues like "stirs up strife" and "complaining" with what to put off and what to put on, all with Scripture refs. As you said with other books, this is not one that applies immediately to infants, but it is a good preparatory read and re-read! Also, Teach Them Diligently by Lou Priolo. This helps parents understand how to use the Word of God in our children's daily lives. Yours sound helpful; thanks for the tips!