A kind reader asked me what I thought was lacking in Christian parenting books. My response? “I’ll get back to you on that.” It’s been a few days, but I still don’t have an answer. Anyway, why ask me?
I’ve read a few books on parenting that wear a Christian label. Some deserve the name, and some don’t. A few were good, but most were disappointing in one way or another.
I’m especially turned off by books—or parents—that have the answer. For example, if you spank for every infraction, with such and such a rod of such and such a diameter, and of course throw in a prayer when you’re finished, you will not only have perfect children, but they’ll even thank you for it.
I’m not saying that I’m against spanking when appropriate. My point is that I am put off by the smug and pious tone of some Christian parenting books. Have ye perfect children? Fine; keep them to yourself.
The most recent books I’ve read talk less about discipline. That’s refreshing. We do hope, after all, that most of our parenting time is spent in non-disciplinary activities.
What’s lacking in parenting books? I don’t know. Maybe they are as good as they can be. After all, one can only learn so much from reading.
When our oldest was a toddler, we read a popular book. I’m not speaking for my wife—she’s more humble than I—but I became an instant expert. I even took it upon myself to give my parents advice on dealing with another grandchild. They were gracious enough to not tell me that I didn’t know what I was talking about.
After seven years, I’ve only learned that I knew nothing, and that my children have taught me far more than any book (though I still know nothing). We’ve also learned that spanking, despite what most Christian writers say, is not always effective. And that what is effective with one child might not be with the next.
What do you do when “the rod” frustrates a child or provokes them to wrath? Our fundamentalist friends would say to keep spanking the children until they’re happy. I say that I’m glad they aren’t my parents, regardless of how much their children thank them for their spankings.
So you spank, pray, spank your child until he prays, home-school, throw out the TV, and dress your child like Theodore Cleaver, but he’s still not perfect. Then what? Then you trust God and take it one day at a time. And in the meantime, thank Him that you don’t have perfect children. Ours are precious blessings, but not perfect. If they were, they would be out-of-place in our home. And give them lots of love, and be glad that they are so forgiving.
That’s a long, rambling way to say that I don’t know how to improve Christian parenting books; if I did, I’d write one myself. They are what they are, just like our kids.
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