I was asked recently whether I knew of any books for Christian couples expecting a baby, things to consider for new parents. A quick search of my shelves revealed a marked lack of such resources.
Husband and I have couples around for a chat before their first child arrives, usually when they are about 6 months pregnant. These are people with whom we already have a pre-existing relationship, often people we have also prepared for marriage. However, it is always useful to have a book to recommend to others.
So, off to the bookstore again to do some research. I came up with Expectant Parents: Preparing Together for the Journey of Parenthood, and upon reading it, I was pretty impressed. I was also somewhat gratified to note that almost everything Gosselin includes in her book were things we also cover when we talk with new parents.
Gosselin has done a good job of combining together a whole array of sensible suggestions for both pregnancy and the early childhood years.
Some of her topic areas include
- Make your marriage a priority and be prepared that pre-existing stresses will be exacerbated with children
- Being a mum / being a dad - and how that impacts you
- Thinking about post-baby career choices
- Surviving the social side of pregnancy – including extended family
- Finding a community – seek out strong friendships that are understanding and encouraging, not competitive
- How your family of origin comes into play all over again
- Thinking about your long term family goals and ideas
- The false idea that you can be perfect parents – no, we are all in training
I didn’t write extensive notes on this book, I was really reading it to see if I would recommend it, rather than to get things out of it for me personally. However, some of her ideas and quotes (often of others) did really resonate:
- “While your true goal will be to have a Christ-centred home, the marriage itself is a foundational, God-ordained block for the family” (p14)
- On body image during this life stage: “The biggest lesson I needed to remember was that life is full of seasons – a time to be a skinny teenager, a time to be a growing pregnant woman, a time to be a curvy and comforting mom.” (p38)
- On being a dad: “Be ready for the wave to hit. The loss of independence and and spontaneity can be depressing. It’s a beautiful season, but life certainly isn’t about you anymore.” (p62)
- On questioning God on why a child might not be healthy or ‘perfect’: ‘Sometimes my mind wander to what might have been, and I ask “Why couldn’t it have been perfect, Lord?” And he lovingly answers, “It could have been perfect – by your definition – but then it would not have been my will – My good, pleasing, perfect will.”’ (p118)
- On the myth of perfect parenting “it’s important for new parents to remember that ‘successful’ parenting is not perfect parenting. Every family has issues; every parent makes mistakes. Parenting seems so much more manageable when we abandon the idea of doing it right every time. That’s an unattainable standard.” (p140)
All in all it’s a good book, and recommended for impending parenthood!
(By the way, if you want something humorous and Australian for some light hearted reading, I also went back and re-read So You’re Going to be a Dad, by Peter Downey. An online search showed it has now been completely revised and updated, which is good seeing it’s over 20 years old. It is definitely worth a read, especially for dads, but really for all want to see the funny side of those early months and years.)