Last fall our adoption agency sent us a huge box, loaded with books on adoption, parenting and Haiti. Added to my already significant accumulation of unread books, the pile soon teetered off of my nightstand, and landed in the drawers below since looking at the stack gave me a defeated feeling.
2008 has resparked my desire to read, and I'm putting a small dent in this pile. I just finished a book that I found so incredible I felt the need to recommend it on my blog:
Grace Based Parenting, by Dr. Tim Kimmel. If somebody told me that I could only read one parenting book in my entire life, this one would win, without a doubt. Here is the Publisher's Weekly synopsis:
"Kimmel, author and founder of Family Matters ministries, likens many Christian parents' attempts at rearing children to putting together a puzzle without first studying the completed picture located on the box's cover. Kimmel states that families of faith tend toward extremes, either being overly permissive or overly legalistic. . . He says Christians frequently believe that the battle for a child's heart and soul is fought on the outside with rigid rules and boundaries when in fact just the opposite is true. He underscores the importance of communicating the unconditional love that Christ offers and affirming this timeless message of grace to one's family. Despite the numerous examples the author cites where parents fail, this text is overwhelmingly upbeat with hope and possibility: Parents who strive to live a life of faith characterized by daily trust in God will pass on this message of possibility and potential to their offspring."
Obviously, this is a Christian-parenting book. However, after being read by Cliff and myself, we both felt that the book offered many parenting ideas that could still be held applicable in the eyes of non-Christian parents, since so much of it touches on basic human nature.
Ever since I began homeschooling, I have become very conscious of the emotional atmosphere in my home. I want to make our home a safe, pleasant place for our children--one they love, feel safe in and grow in. I want them to live in a home where they can feel comfortable expressing their thoughts and making mistakes. One in which they know they'll be encouraged to learn from their mistakes (because we will make poor choices), instead of only fearing the repercussions of them (although yes, repercussions are still part of life and not dismissed by Kimmel). I can see how dangerous running a purely legalistic home can be. The thought of having an unpleasant home environment for my children unnerves me; I would be devastated if years from now I learned that my children were merely counting the days until they could leave an oppressive hell-hole of a home. This book has really opened my eyes to the balance between creating an environment of safety vs. creating an environment of oversheltered oppression. So much food for thought, and I'm certain this book will be one I often return to again and again, for guidance in the years ahead.