I looked at my night stand the other day and noticed that I have an excessive amount of parenting books. From the time our oldest was born (11-plus years ago) to today, somewhere along the line, I became a self-confessed Christian parenting book junkie.
Some have been well worth the time while others were not worth the paper they were printed on. Yet here are five books, or authors, I can recommend:
5) Hopeful Parenting by David Jeremiah
Have you ever read a book whose title was as important as the content? For me, this was the case with Dr. Jeremiah’s Hopeful Parenting. There are many books like this that speak to facing the tough issues of life with hope. Parenting in today’s society is as challenging as ever, and if we are to be even remotely successful, it will take the grace of God. By reading this book, you will walk away with some fresh vision for the task at hand and a few pointers to boot.
Dr. Dobson wrote these books years apart, and he wrote them in priority order. If we, as the Church, do a good job raising boys, it will make raising girls marginally easier. As the father to a boy and four girls, I lean on each of these resources. About boys, a takeaway for me is to make life challenging and not easy for boys and embrace his active, adventurous spirit. About girls, the takeaway for me is to be present in their lives. Dobson recorded a group interview with young ladies who are reflecting on their fathers. The only girl who did not have complaints about her Daddy was in a large family (nine children). Dobson wondered how she had no complaints and the young lady said her Daddy always took her out one-on-one every so often. While she knew he was a busy man, that one act communicated love to her. Each of these works is tailored to the unique challenge of raising boys and girls, who are as different as can be.
3) Raising a Strong-Willed Child by James Dobson
This is the book I am currently reading, not the newer version but the original. I once heard a theory that there are two kinds of children generally: those who are more pliable and those who are more strong-willed. Everyone born is born into sin and needs redeemed by God through the saving power of Jesus Christ, and every nature, whether strong or pliable, needs redeemed. Nevertheless, Dobson’s book deals with the hard cases, not just toddlers or surly teens, but everything in between. The takeaway for me is to distinguish between willful defiance, which must be dealt with, and childish irresponsibility. Raising a strong-willed child takes patience and the grace of God. This book might be helpful to you.
I admit that I personally did not favor Kevin Lehman at first, or at least his approach. His sense of humor takes some getting used to for a straight-laced person like me. But there is no doubt he is witty and also wise. More than any Christian parenting book I have read, his offers a tactical approach. Many books are heavy on themes that are hard to implement, but Dr. Lehman’s is practical. One takeaway I have used with my children is not to engage in whining. If they ask for something they shouldn’t have, say no and explain, turn around and walk away. Don’t stand there and fight about it. This tactic has worked time and again for me. Expect tactics like this in Dr. Lehman’s “reality-based parenting” approach.
1) Rite of Passage Parenting by Walker Moore
I am biased because Walker Moore is a friend and also writes for the publication where I work, the Baptist Messenger (see his columns here). That being said, Walker Moore’s book is truly transformational. He talks about how to bring the child from birth through adolescence. He challenges our presuppositions about so-called teenage life and helps parents turn their teens into young adults. The book is humorous and engaging and has a companion workbook too, perfect for any Bible study or Sunday School. Walker’s technique of “grace deposits” has been especially helpful to us. This is the idea that, as parents, we are bound to be correcting, admonishing and (on our weak days) shouting, to get our children to obey. Therefore, we need to take opportunities every day to build them up. A child must learn to be commended, not just corrected. Walker also helps parents think of ways to teach responsibility in an age-appropriate way, so the child takes on more. In the end, if more Christian parents took this work serious, we would have fewer young adults today who are really just overgrown children, or perpetual adolescents, and more godly young people.
Ultimately, I endorse reading the Bible as the true source of wisdom for parenting (especially Proverbs). That being said, each of these authors draws from the Scriptures for wisdom in these non-fiction works, which have helped my wife and me, and which I hope help you.
I end by asking you: what Christian parenting books have helped your family?