What are your intentions as a parent? Rearing up a child is not something that just happens. It is hard work and without some thoughtfulness you will never take steps to raise your kids right. Counselors Sissy Goff, David Thomas and Melissa Trevathan have walked with a number of families through their ministry, Daystar Counseling in Nashville, Tennessee. They know that good parents are mindful about what they want their children to become, but they also are attentive about being the sort of parents who can provide nurture and consistency, model spiritual health, and take responsibility for their family. In Intentional Parenting they offer their insights on how we can be better parents.
Goff, Thomas and Trevathan take turns writing each of the twelve chapters of the book which are designed to encourage parents to attend to what parenting does. They challenge parents to be intentional, patient, grown-up, balanced, consistent, playful, connected, encouraging, spiritual, merciful, and hopeful. If this seems like hard work and pressure, the final chapter dispels the notion: “Being a Free Parent.” In that chapter, Trevathan avers that our experience of God’s grace is what sets us free to parent our children and trust God with the results.
Too many parenting books tell you how to get your kids to behave or succeed. That isn’t really the focus of this book, (though they’re not urging us to turn out ill-behaving failures either). Instead their book focuses on what God does in and through us as parents. In the opening chapter (“Being an Intentional Parent”), Thomas argues that parenting has more to do with our own growth than our ability to turn out good, productive children:
If we are willing to consider that God designed parenting more for our own sanctification and transformation than to shape our children’s lives, we open ourselves up to movement, growth, and maturity. If we consider that God designed parenting as a place where men and women could come to ask hard questions, engage deep heartache, and find renewed hope–a place where people can grow in the range and richness of new possibility in their lives–then there is much room for maturity of heart (p.10)
What follows in this book is an explication of this point. Each author, in turn, challenges us to be the parents we long to be. If we are to parent well, we will need to grow in patience, because let’s face it, our kids are slow and the act of parenting does not feel very efficient. Being a ‘grown-up’ parent means that to parent well, you will have to face your past and the things that shaped you as a child (and parent). And yes balance and consistency will need to be cultivated to do it well. But ultimately the glory of parenting is when you get to pass on joy, hope and freedom to each child. If I have a well behaved child, but my parenting style impedes my kid understanding God’s grace, I failed as a parent (and a human being!).
This book is full of challenging advice from some seasoned counselors. But it is not preachy. Goff, Thomas and Trevathan are excited about what parenting does in us as we seek to love and nurture our children. Their excitement is infectious. I give this book 4 stars!
Thank you to Thomas Nelson for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for this review through BookSneeze.