When Morin Boy #1 was born into this family, I went into immediate mothering overdrive. Every book, every magazine, every radio program that featured parenting experts: I was there. My sleep-deprived brain was, apparently, incapable of filtering out all the contradictory thinking, so one week I would try someone’s advice that sounded great, and when it “didn’t work” (I’m not sure what measuring stick I was using for that), I’d move on to another approach. I’ve filed that whole chapter of parenting under a heading called “Desperate Times” . . . and I never go near that file now! I’m thankful that the following years led me toward solid friendships with other parents, and experiences that built my trust in God’s timeless principles for life.
For young parents who are looking for a good foundation, or for older parents who are entering a new phase of childhood with their kids and feel as if the rug has been pulled out from underneath their feet, Melanie Redd provides a comforting arm and a lot of solid truth in How to Win Your Child’s Heart for Life. The truth is that no matter how excellent a parent’s consistency and discipline may be in the early years, if a relationship doesn’t develop, and if those parents don’t win their child’s heart early on, there is no set of rules or parenting strategy that will ensure the parent’s ability to continue influencing that child into adulthood. What strategies lead toward this kind of loving relationship? Melanie offers eight thoughts to get us started:
- Make prayer a top priority in your home. This will look very different in a home full of high school students than it would look in a home with a baby and a toddler. Our own prayer lives need to grow along with our kids and their needs, and there’s nothing like genuineness of heart to instill a tender heart in our kids. Praying with and praying for our kids is the foundation upon which all other good strategies is built. Stop right now and make plans for this. God will meet you more than half way: “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart,” Jeremiah 29:12, 13.
- Stay ahead of your kids! Well . . . that’s nearly impossible, but always be learning and growing as a parent. Read, talk to other parents, listen to experts on the radio or through podcasts. Melanie Redd is an amazing compiler of resources and has given lists and even an entire appendix of Christian authors and bloggers.
- Seek out older, wiser friends. Chapter three compares the teen years to Class III and Class IV rapids, and while I’m no river rafter, I remember being completely caught off guard by our intro to the teen years. It didn’t take us long to go hunting for wise listening ears and praying hearts to guide us and stand with us during those turbulent times. Most valuable of all was the perspective they offered, and I share it with you today: For the most part, on the other side of EVERY phase, there will once again emerge a delightful child, and you will love them — and like them — again. Truly.
- Quit barking at your kids! Listen to your own tone of voice, and ask yourself if it’s something you’d like to listen to each day.
- Capture teachable moments. As a homeschooling mum, I appreciated this advice, because it’s easy to fall into a “schedule as god” mindset. Some of my warmest and most God-infused conversations with our kids happened when we let them “get away with” stalling at bed time, or put away the regular family devotions plan and simply answered questions.
- Pick your battles wisely. If you can say yes, say it! There are way more no’s that HAVE to be said to protect safety and sanity, so if it’s only inconvenient or it’s only a matter of personal preference, try to say yes. Really.
- Make your home a place of laughter, joy, humor, and fun. We’ve got some pretty zany kids, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. There is no sweeter sound to me than the sound of male laughter times four. The ability to laugh together as a family will carry you through some very hard times.
- Never stop loving and encouraging your kids. I Corinthians 13 is a glorious meditation for a parent who wants to stay inside a loving mindset toward kids of all stages. Whether just beginning with babies, or whether praying for a mid-life prodigal, the love of God is the fuel that carries the heart forward in the parenting marathon. Anything less will not sustain for the long haul.
With a wealth of discussion questions at the end of each chapter and plenty of space for notes, How to Win Your Child’s Heart for Life is a resource for personal study, for small group discussion, or for a challenging parenting class. Positive and upbeat, these eight strategies are a great beginning for developing more intentional and biblical parenting practices.
This book was provided by the author in exchange for my review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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