I was pleased to discover that of the three parenting books I read in the last term, all have been great.
Anyone who read and appreciated Love and Respect (Eggerichs’ book on marriage) will also find much here to learn from and apply. It’s a similar format but applied to parenting, with the overarching principle being that parents desire respect and children need love. A lot of it is sensible, rings true and is very helpful.
His message throughout is that parenting is for adults only, so therefore be an adult – be the one who is in control, manages yourself and takes responsibility. You are the only adult in the parenting relationship.
He works through three sections:
1. The Family Crazy Cycle: when a child does not feel love, they react, and when a parent does not feel respect, they react. Parents are to try decode and then defuse the situation. There is very helpful practical tips about how parents and kids can work each other up, but it is up to the parents to try to figure out what’s really going on in both their kids’ hearts and their own hearts.
2. The Family Energising Cycle: where a parent’s love motivates a child’s respect, which in turn motivate the parents love. Throughout this section, there is a chapter to explain each letter of his acronym, GUIDES: give, understand, instruct, discipline, encourage and supplicate (pray). After going through each in detail, he encourages parents to work as a team, and to be aware of gender differences as you parent.
3. The Family Rewarded Cycle is where a parent’s love is given regardless of a child’s respect and so on. Here is where the Christian aspect of parenting really comes to the fore – our parenting is not to be child-focused, or parent-focused but Christ-focused. We are called to show unconditional love, like God has loved us. We are to be wary of parenting for outcomes, for children will make their own choices. In the end, we are only in control of our response and how we behave, so we take control of ourselves and trust God with the rest. He finishes with a challenge to think about the legacy you will leave your children.
Here are a few quotes I liked along the way:
Craziness in the family intensifies because of the parents’ immaturity, not the kids’ immaturity” (p32)
To control our children, we must first control ourselves. To discipline our children, we must first be self-disciplined” (p104)
Yes, as God extends mercy, grace and forgiveness, so should we, but that does not absolve a child of consequences for bad behaviour any more than God removes consequences for our bad behaviour. (p104)
A good strategy is to be a “benevolent dictator” through most of their childhood years; then move to a more democratic approach as your kids enter teen years… Your long term goal is to move from control to counsel.” (p101)
Yes, we concentrate on the kids in parenting since that is inescapable, but we focus more on Christ in parenting since that is incomparable (p187)
This is yet another book that has made it to my recommended reading list for parents – it will encourage and challenge you as you seek to serve and trust Jesus in your parenting.