Parenting Against the Tide – I picked up this book when we were on holiday last month. My copy has a pretty butterfly stuck onto it – a certain 3 year old thought it was pretty! HAHA
Anyway, I had never heard of Ann Benton, but the title caught my attention so I picked it up along with a few others (other books listed at the end of the post). It didn’t take long to get through, and from the first chapter I was almost giggling at what she was saying! In a good way, but a ‘oh my, she really isn’t pulling any punches here!’ sort of way. The book is full of my green highlighter, marking statements and phrases I want to find again easily. This is the first bold statement that really got me thinking
Motherhood has rarely been so undervalued. And it is no coincidence that simultaneously the authority of parents has never been so undermined. If school can raid and confiscate items from lunch boxes, how long before they consider it in your child’s interest to vet or ban your child’s reading material as politically incorrect or bigoted?
There has been a systematic and sustained attack on the essential and benign authority of mothers and fathers. It has been a two pronged campaign, proclaiming that
a. Anyone can care for a child
b. Parents do not necessarily know what is best for their children; others know better and should always be able to override what a mere parent thinks.
Is it any wonder that many 21st century parents are paranoid, guilty and anxious?
WOW! ‘Paranoid, guilty, anxious’? Does this ring any bells? Almost every mummy I know has some sort of mummy guilt about at least one thing (and while that is a totally new blog post in itself) it’s worth mentioning that this undermining of parental authority by secular society could be the root cause of it!
The bible on the other hand, teaches a completely different stance on the role of mothers and fathers. This is clearly expounded in this book and is very re-affirming to read, as a 21st century parent. I think it’s almost ingrained in us, from those early days of pregnancy that we NEED about 100 health care professionals to tell us step-by-step instructions on how to raise a child. I’m not disrespecting any health care professionals here, I know we do need a certain amount of support, but there is a real risk that we are automatically relying on other people’s advice and opinions rather than developing our own sense of intuition.
A textbook and the Health Visitor might tell you your toddler should be potty trained by 2 years old, but if your gut says to wait, maybe you need to heed your gut! Remember, there is no-one on this earth who loves or knows your child more than you do! You have authority but also responsibility to care for your child under God. He is your first point of advice – and all over the bible we are shown examples of how God puts mothers (and fathers) in an immense position of privilege and honour. Thankfully we have access to other sources of help and advice, for example we do sometimes need doctors and teachers and many others to help us raise our children, but the ultimate responsibility is in our hands. Other should be helping us, not telling us how to raise our children.
The book goes on to talk about so many issues it would be impossible to share them all! She explores the idea of discipline and how we are now almost afraid to speak straight to our children, the idea of saying ‘NO’ or ‘that was wrong’ is viewed as judgement, which could effect self-esteem in the child (another topic frankly discussed in this book). She makes valid points concerning how we have become so obsessed on ‘affirming’ a child all the time,
The problem is that sometimes we just have the passing thought that some attitude or behaviour is not so great, or is even bad. But we become nervous about saying it. Because to make a moral judgment or a value judgment ie. to say ‘that is wrong’ would not be very affirming. It might upset someone. So we tend to keep quiet or if we correct we wrap our connection upon such an affirming bracket that the correction itself is diluted.
Smacking, gender, sexuality, obedience, indulgence, church, schooling, money and the internet are just a few more sections that I found fascinating. I found it hard to find something I disagree with in the book, and that’s the truth. I have put it on my annual reading list, as at the very least will affirm (LOL) me, and my parenting strategies. All too often the world can make me feel like I’m doing it wrong by doing it God’s way. It’s nice to read something that gives encouragement and practical tips on how to deal with certain issues.
The conclusion of the book sums it up perfectly
New parents are inundated with advice…………and all that stuff coming at you can rob a parent of the confidence to just exercise intuition and common sense. The main thrust of this book has been to encourage parents to be parents as God intended and as he himself has modelled: confident in their authority, consistent in their values, clear in their boundaries and loving in their relationships with their children. If all that seems obvious to the reader then I am glad to have reinforced what you are already doing. You may call it common sense. I observe that it is not as common as it ought to be.
The biggest mistake we can make in parenting is to think we have everything sorted. Speak less to your kids and more to God. He is a better parent that you or me.
Get yourselves a copy of this book ladies – it’s one to keep! As mentioned earlier, here’s the other few book I have for the summer