Book Review: Grace Based Parenting

couch, coffee table, cup. text: Book Review: Grace Based Parenting

Checked this book out from the library mostly as it pertains to my current parenting of two little rambunctious boys.  It turned out to be one of the best parenting books I’ve read to date!  I really enjoyed the writing style as well as the overall message, and the more specific advice.

I will admit that I don’t know anything about Dr. Tim Kimmel – I was drawn in 100% by the title.  Who doesn’t want to base their parenting in grace?  Goodness knows I lose my patience daily, and usually feel like my overall attitude could stand a heavy dose of more grace (both from the Lord and to my kids.)

This book is very definitely from a Christian point of view, about Christian parenting. I believe it has some ramifications for any family, but it is heavily aimed at the family looking to infuse their daily interactions and overall parenting and homemaking philosophy with more of God’s grace.

book cover - Grace Based Parenting by Dr. Tim Kimmel

First, let’s talk overall theme.  This book is, in a nutshell, about how to show your children boundless grace without sacrificing structure and moral standards, or falling into permissive parenting.  Initially I assumed that it was going to go in those directions, and that I would just glean what I could but not swallow the whole theory.

I was wrong.

Dr. Kimmel repeatedly admonishes parents not to flex when it comes to true moral issues, or true physical danger.  He encourages parents to show a graceful response whenever possible, without jeopardizing the spiritual health of the family.  One example that I think about daily is of a child who insisted on sleeping with a chair on his bed.  This is a silly request that seems inconvenient and unnecessary, but it’s not harming the child, it isn’t a moral issue, and it will likely blow over eventually.  I think about that example when my son wants to nap with his shoes on, or put his placemat on his head as a “hat,” or wear mismatched clothes, or dig in the dirt.  If it’s not harmful physically or spiritually, let them do them.  Let them be unique creatures.

This philosophy is based in an absence of fear.  Dr. Kimmel speaks out directly against fear-based parenting – the type of home where everything that could potentially cause sin is strictly off limits.  Where the rules are many and rigid to try to protect the children from everything unsavory.  He expresses what I already felt to be true – these types of environments have the opposite effect from what was intended.  By not allowing children self-expression or exposure to other human beings and their ways of life, the children don’t learn to rely on God or to stand up for their moral standards because they never have to.  They can’t function in regular society because they have entered atrophy by being in such a “cloistered” environment.

He encourages parents to parent from a place of ultimate trust in God.  That if we truly trust God to help us guide and protect our children, we needn’t put innumerable rules in place, and won’t feel compelled to do so.  We can let them chose things like hair colors or music or tennis shoes without fearing that they’re headed for their ultimate demise.  The author is actually quite hard-hitting here, which I appreciate.

This style of parenting, naturally, lead to acceptance of our children’s unique gifts and quirks, and a stronger relationship with adult children who have felt valued and relevant to their family from little on.

Writing style -wise, I enjoyed the balance on anecdote, secular quotations, Bible verses, and actual parenting advice.  I don’t tend to like books that are too heavy on anecdote, or refuse to include any quotations or examples that are not straight from Scripture.  It was easy to read, structurally, but very direct and held no punches.

And the author referenced Mr. Holland’s Opus, so that’s an automatic win in my book!

I feel like, overall, I enjoyed this book because it resonated with me.  The author stated (much more eloquently than I could) what God’s grace looks like in parenting.  He expressed many truths that I already feel are very important, but coming from an outside perspective this seems more poignant.

10/10 would recommend! 

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Book Review: The Connected Child

 
Find on Amazon: http://amzn.to/2kVZggW

 

This is a great parenting book even if all of your children came into your family biologically.  While it is directed specifically at helping children who do not have strong attachments or who are not used to authority figures, it’s great for toddlers!  Many of the tips are related to the Love and Logic approach, and more are just good sense parenting of children who are exhibiting defiant behaviors.

Surely I’m not the only mom whose “threenager” exhibits defiant behaviors.

I enjoyed that this book is authored from the perspective that a warm, nurturing home and simple living is best for children with any number of difficulties.  The authors actually came out and said that families should strictly limit their “business” and activities outside the home so that they can focus on parenting and nurturing, unhurried and unobserved.  I agree with this so much!  (I should write a blog post about it.)

“Many families live at breakneck speed.  they hurry to work, to day care, to civic meetings, and to social engagements.  They ferry the kids from scouts to soccer to piano lessons to school and back again.  the parent becomes the chauffeur with a checkbook, someone who waves good-bye in the morning and barely says hello again at night.  As parents whip through these hectic days, children are expected to just tag along, absorb life lessons, and feel connected to their families.  But an at-risk, attachment-challenged child just won’t get it.  Adopted and foster children need lots of individualized, focused time with their parents in order to catch up developmentally and to form close and loyal family bonds… parents who are seriously committed to helping a troubled and challenged child thrive will vastly increase their odds of success by making a fundamental policy decision: to slow down their lives and put their child’s needs first.  Joining the women’s league can wait for a few years; this youngster can’t.”

That.  One of the most poignant paragraphs in the book, affirming what I believe to be true about family life.

This book would even be a good refresher for parents whose families are well-established.  You learn something new every day!  (My mother just came out of my mouth.)

Format-wise, this is a quick read.  I finished it in three days because I had to return it to the library, and I’m a procrastinator.  It is broken up with lots of headings within the chapters.  There aren’t too many anecdotes (I don’t enjoy excessive anecdotes) but the authors did provide examples when helpful.  There are also checklists and tables of information sprinkled throughout, some of which would be very useful as actual checklists.

The books ends with a chapter about the parents’ own childhood and attachment levels.  This is something I’m noticing is prevalent in preparation for foster care or adoption – everyone is very concerned that you get in touch with your own childhood experiences and any emotional difficulties you might have.  This chapter (the entire book, really) actually provides an encouraging perspective, and offers practical ideas for resolving or improving your personal emotional state (and your whole parenting style) rather than giving the impression that imperfect people shouldn’t parent.

Which, obviously, they should.  We are all of us imperfect!

In conclusion…

10/10 Would recommend to any parent/prospective parent!

Book Review: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families

 
To be honest, this book began rather slowly for me.  There are a large amount of anecdotes from both the author’s own life and lives of others, which is not my personal style of understanding self-help information.
About at the middle of the book, when I was close to beginning to skip over entire pages, I found some gems.  During Habit 4: Think “Win-Win”, I found tips about mitigating competition among siblings and helping curb teenage rebellious behavior.  The overriding principle is to create solutions that help everyone in the family “win,” or have an outcome they enjoy.  This includes things like family activities where everyone feels successful (family point totals goals, for example,) and creating agreements with teenagers where parents get behaviors/responsibilities they desire in their children, but the adolescent children get the freedom or responsibilities they crave to show their independence.

Habit 5 is, essentially, about empathy.  The point was made that families often treat strangers and guests with more empathy than their own members, because families assume that love is constant.  That’s an eye-opener!
Especially for parents: the author also recommends positive feedback first when a child (or adult) has completed a task.  Even if it’s not done perfectly.  Even if the child “cleaned up” by schmearing something awful into your nice towel.  Because they are proud of themselves, and are looking for approval, even if later correction is needed.

Other key take-aways: How to really work together – using every family member’s strengths (viewing them as such, rather than weaknesses)
How to reach mutually agreeable decisions based on facts and principles, not emotions and
selfishness.

Overall, I feel like this book is a great place to begin, if you come from a troubled family background or feel completely lost in nurturing your own family’s cohesiveness.  If you’re finding a lot of strain in your relationships within your family, this book could be a life saver!

For my own purposes, it was more of a refresher of principles I already knew but had perhaps tucked on the back burner.  My intent was to seek insight that could help our family keep structure and consistency throughout and after our foster/adopt journey (suddenly adding an older child could throw everything out of whack!) and my reading has largely just reminded me of areas to focus on.

6.5/10  Would recommend in some cases.