“Summer” reading: Parenting books!

I actually just posted this, just a bit ago, as a comment in response to Melanie’s request for parenting book suggestions, but I thought it would make a good blog post, too.  (I edited it slightly from its original form.)

I do have a few parenting books, but I must say that I have not read many of them cover-to-cover.  Here’s my problem:  It’s hard for me to sift the wheat from the chaff.  Sometimes I read a book, and it might be like, “Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. NO!” and then the “no” part ruins my perspective on the “yes” part.   It throws into question everything else in the book, for me.  So… then I “have” to go back to the Bible, to discussions with my husband, and from advice and encouragement from other mothers whom I respect.  I think I do better with examples in real life than from books.

I did read some Ezzo stuff (cover to cover) before my oldest was born, and while many of the things we implemented from there were very effective, and we continue to this day (like the eat, wake, sleep cycle), I don’t agree with their, “You WILL toe the line” approach. They have a one-size-fits-all attitude, and I have seen that that doesn’t work, especially for kids who have learning disorders. I get the impression that they think that even learning disorders are rooted in the child’s sin, and I just don’t agree with that. In fact, treating my son Grant’s behavior as all rebellion/sin when he was younger just about destroyed our relationship, and I’m glad we got some intervention and a diagnosis that he actually had a LD, and that gave mercy to our parenting of him, which may have saved his life. (Honestly. An alarmingly high percentage of kids with his LD commit suicide because they live in a world where they feel/are completely misunderstood.) He had — at four years old — developed the perspective that, truly, we didn’t love him. Ack. Since that time, I have strayed more and more from the Ezzo approach.

I have gotten more out of one parenting class I took as part of the second hour of a Bible study (it was group the first hour, classes the second hour, not that that matters all that much!!!) when Ethan, who is now nearly 12, was about one. And, I have spent a LOT of time in conversation about parenting with a friend of mine, Brenda, whose oldest is a year older than mine.

Both the class and Brenda took many of their directives from Tedd Tripp’s Shepherding a Child’s Heart.  It’s funny — the book almost invariably gets either five stars or NO stars from reviewers.  It’s pro-spanking, so that seems to be the reason.  It also comes from the perspective that children have a sin nature, which many people don’t believe (I do!), and they find the author’s wording to that effect offensive.  I have never read the book — if I didn’t know Brenda, and if I hadn’t taken that Bible study class, I might be dissuaded by some of the negative reviews.  But, I have seen the beautiful fruit, in the lives of their children, produced by Brenda and her husband, and the teacher’s children.  So, just based on that, I’d recommend the book.  I do though, definitely agree that spanking is not the ONLY effective form of discipline, and there are many times where spanking is not appropriate.  Spanking doesn’t work for every issue, and it’s always my goal to find discipline that WORKS.

I started to read a book last summer: Grace-Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel, and got about 1/3 of the way through it.  Honestly, I stopped reading it partly because everything he said, I replied, “Yes, I agree with that. Agree. Check. Yup.”  And it felt like I wasn’t gaining any new ground.  Much of the book, if not all of it, deals directly with the parents’ attitudes, and how that affects how we deal with our children. However, it was a good confirmation to me of the grace of God and the changing effect that my husband and my church have had on my attitudes about parenting… I mean, I grew up in a VERY legalistic home, and there was many things where I said to myself, “I will not do that as a parent,” but I needed to fill the void with something better that what had been modeled to me.  I still feel like I have a long way to go, but Grace-Based… confirmed to me that a) I was right to set aside some of the things I did, and b) what I have picked up in its place was good. I did find some of the book hard to read, just because it brought up bad memories of my childhood.

A book that I have that I have not yet read is Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining, and Bad Attitudes in you and your kids by Scott Turansky. Again, I haven’t read it, but it’s funny — a friend quoted from it semi-recently in her blog, and I was like, “YES. That is so true,” without realizing at first that it was from that book.

So… it looks like I need to read my own suggestions, and read them all the way through.  I’ve put them on my “summer reading list” — I put it in quotes, because it seems like I have LESS time over the summer to read. :D

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About Karen Joy

I'm a partially-homeschooling mother of six -- 3 boys ages 19, 17 and 15 years old, and three girls: 11, 8, and 3. I like birding, reading, writing, organic gardening, singing, playing guitar, hiking, the outdoors, and books. I very casually lead a very large group of homeschooling families in the Phoenix area. I have a dear hubby who designs homes for a local home builder and who is the worship pastor of our church. I live in the desert, which I used to hate, but now appreciate.

Posted on May 19, 2009, in Books I'm Reading, Christian Living, Family, Motherhood, Nonverbal Learning Disorder, Parenting, The Dear Hubby, The Kids. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. I utilize the ideas taught in Parenting with Love and Logic (or rather I try to.) They have several different books geared to different age groups. http://www.loveandlogic.com

    I never knew parenting demanded such creativity! Each child is so different and responds to different things!

  2. It’s so funny that you posted this today. Gana and I are teaching a parenting class at our church this weekend. So, in preparation, I went to my bookshevles to compare books on parenting. Guess what? We only own two and one we’ve never read! We have HUNDREDS of books in this house. How is the topic of parenting so left out? But, I think we’ve been doing OK, so I’m not sure that now is the time to start burying ourselves in parenting books. We might lose all confidence in our philosophies and methods! LOL!

    So, I guess what we share this weekend will have to be all experience and nothing from the “experts”! 🙂

    • You know, I’m wondering if you’ve never needed books because you saw a healthy family, in action, growing up. I don’t know about Gana’s family life, but from all that you’ve reported, it seems like his family was/is strong (I don’t remember specific things; that’s just the impression I got). Books might be more appropriate for the “rest of us” who grew up in unhealthy family environments. So, bless God — I do! — that you can be a teacher who hasn’t learned from a book, but from your own parents, who have given you a heritage worth passing on. 🙂

  3. Daja…maybe bookwriting is in your future!

  4. My thought on the Ezzos is probably not very nice, so I’ll spare you my blunt commentary. I will say, however, that I could not stomach GKGW, what I read of it, because it seemed like the adults were without sin and the kids were manipulative little devils who were trying to take over the world at every opportunity.

    I love Sally Clarkson. (Educating the Wholehearted Child, which is not exactly a parenting book) She has one or more kids with issues, so she gets what we deal with, and she makes no apologies for her kids not fitting in the mold. Grace-based is the way I would describe her. She recognizes the sin nature of human beings, but she doesn’t use it as a club with which to beat them.

    I was also released from some of the big, heavy chains of legalism by The Way the Learn by Cynthia Tobias. I read that before we had an official OCD dx to work with, and it helped tremendously with the way I related to my very frustrated, very discouraged, very anxious and very depressed child.

    That’s great that you aren’t in need of parenting books, Daja. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! What a blessing to have such a spiritually rich family of origin that you aren’t in need of outside help the way that so many of the rest of us are! 🙂

    • Yes, just mentioning GKGW is really grounds for a hearty argument, with supporters and detractors. I’ll just chalk you up as a detractor. 😉 No worries.

      I just checked my library’s catalogue, and they didn’t have Clarkson’s book. I have heard good things about it from others… I just went to put it on my Amazon wishlist, and found a book by her called The Mission of Motherhood: Touching Your Child’s Heart for Eternity. Wow. I put that on my list, instead.

      About Cynthia Tobias… I have heard great things about The Way They Learn. However, a few years back, I read a different book of hers, You Can’t Make Me (but I can be persuaded), and I was *mighty* disappointed with that book, which then skews my perspective of her other works, KWIM? The review on Amazon for You Can’t… that is titled “Disheartening unbiblical view of children” is exactly my thoughts on that book. For me, also, my issue with that particular book boiled down to the question of whether or not children have a sin nature, and need God, and need their parents to help shape them, and help them develop value for the things that may not come naturally to them (like kindness, self-control, generosity, etc.), or whether our job as parents is to just let children be, get out of their way, and help them develop the goodness that’s inside that will just flourish if we do/say the right thing, or don’t do/say the wrong thing. I’m in the first camp. Tobias, it appeared to me, is in the second. So, it’s hard for me to accept advice from someone with whom I have such a basic disagreement.

      But, I do certainly agree that the whole “sin nature” argument can be taken WAY too far the other way, and IMO often doesn’t take into account things like learning disorders. At last check (though it’s been a while), there is frighteningly little literature for Christian parents wanting to deal biblically with children who aren’t neurotypical. And… I was raised by a “you WILL obey” kind of father, and while, in some respects, that may be biblical, I think there’s a right way (like, a way that includes His heart of mercy and compassion) to take a child’s sin nature into account, and a wrong way…

  5. great post! I think there is such danger in being told out a “method” of parenting via a book or style. (as I mentioned on my blog recently). I have friends who only do things the “AP” way or the “ezzo” way. hardcore. and I tried both methods along my way. I became a slave to guilt when it didn’t go as prescribed. I think there is value moreso in learning a little here and there along the way. for now I stay away from books b/c I too easily find myself trying to go ful blast into some new style… instead I just look up things on a need to know basis (and pray a lot!)

    • “Slave to guilt.” Totally. And, my husband SO was not into Ezzo stuff, and then our disagreement was causing friction between him and me. I decided that I needed peace with my husband WAY more than I needed to follow a prescription in a book.

      And, you’re right — there can be as much “hardcore”/guilt on BOTH ends of the spectrum, whether it’s attachment or Ezzo. Did you see that cartoon on Rixa’s blog? I think I might post it here, after I look into that book a bit more. It wasn’t really comparing parenting styles, but it was titled “The Good Mother” and it showed a mom nursing while her whole house (and other child) was a total wreck. I’m looking for the balance!! My family needs clean laundry and dinner, but my baby needs me, too!! Prayer. Lots of prayer. Plus lots of listening to my husband. He knows me so well, and has seen what works for everyone and what doesn’t.

  6. I haven’t read a parenting book since 1999 when I read and then tried to “ferberize” my oldest to make him sleep. After 7 exhausting hours of tears — mine and his — I went and got my son, tucked him into my bed and forgot all about parenting *books*.

    I’m having a similar problem with my son Gabriel that you had with Grant though. Since he has a disability (Sensory Integration Dysfunction, SID) he is a very difficult child, and he’s always angry. I thought he was angry at my husband for being gone a lot, but in reality, I think it’s how WE as an entire family treat him. I was laying in bed talking to God one night about my sadness and frustration over Gabriel, and it washed over me that my parents are constantly telling me he’s wonderful for them. WHY? I asked. And I think God must have wanted to throw a stone and bonk me in the head, because the answer is so obvious. THEY don’t treat him like he has a disability, they just treat him with love and patience. It works for them, so I’m trying their approach for a while. Maybe it will work, and maybe not.

    Hugs to us both though!

    Ade

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