Monday, March 18, 2019

Tying Their Shoes

43986797Tying Their Shoes, Rob and Stephanie Green

How do you prepare when a baby is on the way? Where do you turn to consider the issues and questions that face a new parent? Husband and I have the privilege of having some couples around for a chat before their first child arrives, usually those we have also helped prepare for marriage. We cover various topics, including your identity as mum and dad, your relationship with God, your relationship with each other and some practical things to consider. In the years we have been doing so, there has only been one book I have found that covers similar ground (Expectant Parents).

For while there are numerous books covering every aspect and stage of parenting, there are less written about preparing for parenthood. Not pregnancy and birth (many exist on that topic as well!), but rather what it means to be a parent and how to think proactively, biblically and Christianly about entering this new stage of life.

Rob and Stephanie Green (authors of Tying the Knot) have sought to redress that and have published a scripturally saturated guide for impending parents. They cover a mix of theological concepts, principles and practical application in a relatively short book that will give expecting couples insight, wisdom, things to ponder and decisions to make going forward.

I say couples intentionally, and even more specifically, I mean committed Christian couples. While they mention it can be applied to single parents, and there is an explanation of the gospel at the back, I would only recommend this to Christian couples. I totally agree that we want to aim high with the application of biblical principles in life and parenting, however I suspect some may feel burdened at the expectation of spiritual maturity suggested. The exercises particularly assume a level of regular prayer and biblical literacy that some may not be comfortable with. I am not suggesting that is a problem by any means; if anything it models a goal to aim for.

Yet, often unfortunately, parenting is a time of comparison where people question their ability. I would be disappointed if a book designed to encourage and exhort, ended up making couples feel discouraged about their partner’s or their own lack of scriptural knowledge, application or prayerfulness.

Having said that, there is solid wisdom found within these pages, all addressing aspects of pregnancy, birth and the early years of parenting, and much for couples to benefit from if they are keen to do it together.

Starting with the idea of identity, they remind impending parents that being a parent does not change your core identity, because first and foremost you are a child of God, redeemed and forgiven. They encourage couples to prioritise their marriage, to the extent that if they think they need to address certain issues they should stop reading this book and get help first. This is not advice you usually read in a book, but it’s wisely given and couples in that situation would do well to heed it.

They push against the idea that we can have birth situations that fit a pre-planned mould, which is wonderful advice for all those awaiting the arrival of a little one:
“As new moms prepare for their own experience in labor and delivery, comparison and judgement are easy. Women have many choices to make for birth: natural of epidural, MD or midwife, hospital or home, bed or water. There are many different options from which to choose, and no option is more godly than another.”
There are practical things to consider, such as what equipment you might actually need, framed around the idea of contentment and stewarding resources well. They talk about sex and how both parents might consider how to love one another in the early months, there is encouragement to dads to lead and be active in all areas of parenting, and a warning about becoming entitled thinking we deserve ‘me time’ or a break from parenting.

Parents are encouraged to think about what the goals of parenting actually are, and they frame it as glorifying God by encouraging children to love and worship God above all else. They expand this to be by: declaring God’s praises, teaching the truths of scripture, and disciplining without provoking.

I particularly appreciated the chapter on the blessing of parenting, identifying that every child is an image bearer of God, the Lord created each child the way they are, and God gives every child their gifts, abilities and limitations. They consider the blessings of infancy, toddlers and the early school years, and then then some of the blessings and realities of parenting children with physical and mental challenges.

A resource like this provides solid input for couples to discuss together. While there are some examples throughout, the real value is found in the principles given, which each couple will then need to figure out how to apply to their own situation.

Recommended reading for those looking forward to impending parenthood.

I received an e-copy of this book from New Growth Press in exchange for an honest review.

No comments: