Book Reviews

Parenting with Love and Logic (Fay & Cline)

This book has some good thesis points but more than a few of the examples are unpolitically correct, even cruel, to modern readers.  For example, the authors suggest getting out of the car when siblings squabble until they can reach a good decision amongst themselves.  Completely out of the question unless you’re on an isolated country road somewhere.  And there are other such things.  So if you are someone who can eat the meat and spit out the bones, it is worth reading.  Especially for the main idea that children need to be given power or responsibility in taking care of themselves if they are going to learn how to be morally autonomous, rather than parents just nagging or imposing rules from on high.   But if you need lots of details to see the philosophy in practice, look elsewhere.

Seasons of a Mother’s Heart (Clarkson)

A fabulously written book on having a mother’s loving heart towards your children.  Well thought-out topics and candid discussion which provokes your own heart to search itself for bad attitudes.  Suited for a book group or just pleasure reading.  I can’t think of someone who wouldn’t read it and appreciate it in at least some way.  The only complaint I have, which is relatively minor, is the author’s emphasis that personality should be seen as given from God.  While I completely agree that God has a destiny for your child that is evident in their personality, and that all personalities should be equally prized, I don’t believe that much of what we see in anybody is necessarily their (inborn, God-given) personality.  Much of personality changes, and should be expected to change, as we are trained, educated, born-again, married, etc.  We will see some continuity of course, but we should be careful to notice sin and other negative things which strongly shape, and masquerade, as what we call “personality.”  These are actually things God wants to rid us of, so we’ll be different.

Teach Them Diligently (Priolo)

This is an almost one-of-a-kind book that talks about the practicals of how to train your child in Christian virtues.  The author goes into more detail than many do about how to use the Bible in your home, with your little ones.  Included are some charts and other tools for devotional use.  This book is also the foundation for other books, such as those by Ginger Plowman and Turanksy/Miller.  So it is worth having in your library.  However, the only thing I caution with this approach is breeding resentment with the Word.  I think we want to be very careful with our children, not to use the Word of God superficially or in a holier-than-thou way.  If we just correct our children with Scripture whenever they do something wrong, they may end up with a bad association with it, or they might not internalize it because they’ve hardened their hearts or tuned it out.  We don’t want Scripture to sound nagging or hollow to them.  Nor do we want to encourage a works mentality.  I think as long as this caveat is heeded, the book serves a noble purpose.

What the Bible Says About Child-Training (Fugate)

This is kind of the old generation’s Bible on spanking.  It is good if just for the reference and historical purpose.  There is much practical talk that is useful for Christians who don’t have a background in spanking and are kind of wondering the ins and outs of it.  However, it is not a well-rounded approach to the method of using the rod.  It is simply not written in grace.  It is written from a religious point of view that puts much emphasis on the rod as a magic agent of change.  And it is written from a legalistic point of view that does not consider the real and true role of the Holy Spirit within a child’s heart.  It confuses grace with leniency, and consistency with a works mentality.  I am afraid that those who read this book and use it as their cornerstone of parenting will have fear and insecurity in their heart which relies on proper use of the rod, instead of Jesus Christ, as their comfort.  This should be avoided at ALL costs.  So for frank talk about the use of the rod, and even some thoughtful discussion into the nature of authority and obedience, this book is useful.  For a handbook on parenting with grace, it is not.

 Toddlerwise

A good book, but not as good as Babywise.  They have some great talk about a toddler’s heart in the beginning chapters, and they note some key developmental qualities.  But for whatever reason, it just isn’t quite as helpful or practical as Babywise.  Maybe that is just because more people find Babywise a shocker!  They seem to be less descriptive and nitty-gritty, which is what I enjoyed from them previously.  They talk about floortime and roomtime and give some sample schedules, but they weren’t as helpful for me.  And, they continue to lack their key quality which plagued them in Babywise: grace.  Their talk about childraising is too sterile.  So for a good read about toddlers, it’s fine.  For an in-depth treatment, you can pass it by.

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