Friday, January 23, 2009

Book review: The Danger of Raising Nice Kids

Book Review: The Danger of Raising Nice Kids, Timothy Smith

I borrowed this book from a friend, after spotting it on her shelf and have just finished reading it. I enjoyed it, it's helpful in a number of ways. While nothing in it was especially new, I liked his premise - that we are so worried (especially as Christian parents) in ensuring our children are nice and well-behaved, that we stop there and do not train them also in being courageous in character. He states that "as Christian parents we are not to simply socialise our children into civil human beings; we are to train them to advance the kingdom of God".

He calls us to view parenting as discipleship - "discipleship is an intimate personal relationship designed for growth and learning through imitation, dialogue and observation".

Smith goes on in the following chapters to highlight the areas that he thinks are key to this. They include:
- authenticity
- showing empathy
- demonstrating compassion
- development discernment
- choosing contentment

For each of them he discusses how parents can show these qualities to their children and the traits you would be hoping to see as your children develop them.

The appendices were also very useful - encouraging you to consider drafting up a mission statement or statement of core values for your family. It also gave a list of things you could hope you child would have achieved by 18 - in areas such as spiritual, physical, social and emotional development. (Smith has put this online as part of a study guide to go with the book, you can see it here). Preparing something like this could really help you to judge what are your family's core values and then plan actively for how to impart them to your children.

We are considering doing a 'Yearly Parenting' review at some point and I hope to implement some of these ideas into that.

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