While I am fully convinced that there is no formula, no 2+2=4 that produces a close-to-perfect kid, I did find this book quite interesting. Rebecca shares much of her personal challenges growing up and how her parents helped her navigate life and grow into a mature young adult, able to make good decisions and be a contributing member of society. She shares other peoples’ stories as well, bringing to the surface how kids who rebel and kids who don’t, grow up with some key differences in their home lives.
I will share some of my take-aways from this book, the first book I’ve read in 2018. You can decide if you want to read it for yourself!
—Having rules is great, but not if they aren’t ever up for discussion. “Because I said so” might be ok some of the time, but do I make room for my kids to express their opinions and desires even if they challenge a rule I have put in place? Am I open to sharing reasons for the rules in order to foster understanding and give my kids the “why” behind our choices as parents?
—I was challenged to voice my confidence in each of my kids’ decision-making skills and to validate when they make good choices that reveal good character. (quote from page 35 “My mom used to remind us, ‘Children have the Holy Spirit as much as adults do. You are capable of hearing His voice as anyone else.’ She trusted us to seek Him out on our own.”)
—Talk about everything and anything and LISTEN to my kids when they talk. Show them they are worth my time.
—There is value in having ‘ritualized communication spaces.’ As I think of our family, I see that dinner times are major connection times for us. We all come together and we eat and talk about so many different things. I also see our morning time in the sitting room by the fire as a vital time to our home school. Josh is long gone by then, but the four of us connect and study school stuff, but also just talk about all sort of topics. And in the late evenings we are all together…though usually just all in the same space while doing separate things, we are still together and some good conversations usually occur off and on throughout that time. Sometimes a child wants some “me-time” and that is fine, but the child shouldn’t do this whenever they want to and isolate themselves from the family on a regular basis.
—Family should be a place where kids know they belong! Where friendships are. Where fun takes place and where the kids learn how to think of others and work together. We play games. We sing together. We laugh together. We take vacations together with the intent of connecting and being together as a family.
—Also, providing other places for the kids to belong…like youth group! My kids have found their place in their youth group and love being with their friends and serving at church.
—It’s important to be honest with your kids about the direction the family is heading or challenges you are facing. Throughout the move, I feel like we have been really honest and open with each other about our struggles…Josh would share openly, I would share, and as a result the kids would share, holding nothing back. We knew how to pray for each other and would have more patience with one another if we knew someone was having a particular hard time. And the kids felt more secure knowing why I seemed sad, instead of worrying about what might be the matter with me. And knowing Josh was learning a new job and staying late some days to keep up, they would be understanding and not frustrated that dad was coming home later than we were used to.
—Josh is much better at this than I am, but coaching kids through their weaknesses is a huge deal. I am tempted to grow impatient and just send challenging kids to their room to get over themselves! Josh has taught me about talking pointedly to the kids about their weaknesses. Here’s a quote from the book when Rebecca said she was having a hard time managing her emotions: “By using my outbursts as a chance to help teach me emotional regulation skills, my parents gave me a chance to growth I simply would not have gotten if I had just been punished instead of coached through my emotions.”
—“Reality-Based Parenting” was one chapter title. Basically, be honest with your kids about what they’re good at or help steer them in the direction that best suits how God has made them. “You can do anything you set your mind to” isn’t true. Let them fail and grow through the failure instead of saving them from any and all hardship. Let them know it is more than ok to not be the best at all they do. Do your best. Leave the rest to God.
—Work together as a team on projects…whether dinner prep or washing a car or remodeling a part of the house, make it a team effort!
—Give my kids opportunities to see the bigger world, outside of themselves…show them that they aren’t the center of the universe. That God is at work in a vast, big world and that they can be a part of that.