I have had the privilege of being on the Launch Team for the new book by Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN called The Christian Parenting Handbook: 50 Heart-Based Strategies For All The Stages of Your Child's Life. The authors are the co-founders of the ministry named The National Center for Biblical Parenting which they started because the realized the need for "biblical, practical parenting resources." I had never heard of their ministry until I was made aware of it through another blogger who was advertising the need for Launch Team members. They have many resources for parents that I can't wait to take a closer look at.
I quickly became excited about the thought of a book that focuses on the heart of the child, the internal motivations instead of the external. I realized, as I read, that there is so much more. The book may challenge some of your previous held believes, starting at chapter 1: Consistency is Overrated. I have always been so concerned about not being consistent with the children, frustrated when my husband and I are doing things differently or when I can't be consistent with one child when I am in the middle of dealing with one of the other children. Have you also heard about the importance of being consistent? I wouldn't be surprised if you had, as mentioned in the book, all parenting books emphasize the importance of consistency. The book goes on to remind us that consistency, as a part of behavior modification, is actually a humanistic approach and with it we are not reaching to the heart of the child.
As mentioned above, the book focuses on 50 Heart-Based strategies in raising children.
I love that the book is laid out in 50 short chapters, all focusing on one of the strategies. You can read a little bit at a time, let it sink in and see where you may be able to implement the advice in your family. Which is one of the reasons this book is great. You can see ways the strategies will work for you. In addition, you will be delving into your Biblical philosophy of parenting and developing it. Always the reminder that we are to be bringing our children up in the "nurture and admonition of the Lord."
Let me share a few things I found to be very eye-opening.
Let me start by addressing the consistency issue. The authors don't want you to misunderstand, and neither do I, the importance of consistency. When you look at behavior modification you will see that it is all about external rewards which will not lead to lasting change in the heart. In fact, it will most probably lead to selfishness because children are always wondering what is in it for them. The authors provide many different strategies to work with, which when used properly and creatively, realizing that all children are unique as are the circumstances, will mold the heart.
When a parent parents with a heart based approach they are also helping the relationship between themselves and their children to grow, avoiding putting up barriers in the relationship. One of the things that really erects barriers between the parent and child would be anger. I can testify to the fact that when we respond out of anger and start dishing out consequences, the children will start backing away emotionally. I tend to focus on what the children have done wrong and how it has affected me or something of mine. So I lash out in anger and yell, forgetting to even think about the motive behind what happened. It hurts to see how the children have drawn away when I love them so. In fact, just the other day, Tabitha was wondering if we were not her real parents because we yell at them when they are disobedient, not listening the first time and constantly arguing with each other. That hurt. I explained to her that we may yell and they may be disciplined, but we still love them, we want them to learn to do what is right.
As I read the book, I realized I need to stop responding out of anger. One thing that is mentioned is that sorrow is a better reaction. Here, let me quote, "If you, as a parent, look past your anger for a moment, you'll see that you truly are sad about what your child has done because you know the long-term consequences of such behavior. Reflect it in a gently way. Sorrow opens doors of relationship, whereas anger builds walls."
Another thing that really stuck with me is how we tend to start thinking of the consequences the children are going to receive after they have done something wrong. One problem with that, which I never thought of, is that over time, with a constant use of consequences, they will "wear out." We need to focus on the right, instead of what the child did wrong. I love the suggestion of having the child practice doing the right thing. Think about it, these are young children, with little experience, they need to practice the right behavior if they are going to learn it and internalize it for lasting change. A constant barrage of consequences is just focusing on the negative, and having the child start to resent you as a parent.
Another thing I began to understand is that when I see negative behaviors I need to look at what character quality is lacking and needs to be worked on in the child. When the children don't listen right away and we have to remind them over and over we realize we have to work on obedience. Other things we need to work on in our family are patience (waiting with a happy heart), perseverance (hanging in there even when you feel like quitting), attentiveness (looking at the person you are speaking to, showing them you love them), and honor (treating people special, doing more that what is expected with a good attitude). One of the reasons I like our homeschool curriculum is because of the focus on character qualities in Kindergarten. In fact, one of the children's favorite "Words to Remember" is "I don't quit, I persevere."
Here is another good reminder, "Children need firmness, direction, limit setting, instruction, and correction. But don't forget, they also need a lot of love, teaching, grace, affirmation, appreciation, and relationship." I realized as I read, that when I am being firm with the children and constantly dishing out correction without first showing love and grace, the children are not going to react positively. I greatly appreciated that the book has a chapter focused specifically on Firmness titled, "Use Firmness to Focus on Character." Being firm doesn't mean constantly focusing on the consequences. You need to make sure the children understand your expectations. The authors suggest writing the expectations down or having your child repeat it back to you. Also, I have seen how it is important to make sure a child is actually moving to do what they were told to do. When I have told the children to do a specific chore and then walk away it is less likely to get done, than if I ask the girls to tell me what they are supposed to be doing and staying there to watch them do it.
There are so many more nuggets of truth and wisdom in this handbook, I obviously can't go into all of them. These strategies make sense if you want to raise children who are not focused on themselves, but show Godly character qualities. Yes, it takes work and prayer and the Holy Spirit's guidance to achieve these goals, but no one said being a parent was going to be easy. There are so many secular books out there that focus on parenting, I was so glad to have a chance to read The Christian Parenting Handbook to get a Biblical perspective. This is a book I will be able to go back to again and again. I hope to have my husband read it soon so we can be on the same page, though there is a chapter titled, "Don't Minimize Your Parenting Power Because Your Partner Does it Differently." Personally, I would rather we be working together here and as I believe the husband is the leader in the home I can't wait to have him understand where I am coming from.
This book has been so popular during the launch week that all the major retailers have sold out of the book. Christian Book has since acquired some more copies (They received 50 more and had sold 9 by yesterday afternoon, so I am not sure how many are left right now), so I would encourage you to head over there to purchase the book for $12.99 (the CBD price). Additionally, you can purchase a paperback copy from The National Center for Biblical Parenting at a 25% discount from the retail price and still receive the $400 worth of Parenting Resources for free, though purchasing it from their ministry will not count toward the best seller list sales. If you would prefer the eBook version, you can go here to find a list of where you can purchase it and those sales also count toward the best seller list sales and allow you to receive the $400 worth of resources.
You can go here for information about receiving your Free Parenting Resources.
And you can still enter to win in the Biblical Parenting Resources Giveaway on Tots and Me by clicking here. The giveaway ends tonight and there will be 5 winners!
Finally, you can enter to win in the Mega-Giveaway by clicking here.
Prizes for this giveaway are an iPad Mini, $200 Amazon GC, Wii with Wii Sports game, $100 Amazon GC and a Digital Photo Frame. There will be 5 winners who will receive 1 of the above prizes. This giveaway ends tomorrow.