Every once in a while, a book comes along that totally changes my perspective. Jennie Cunnion’s parenting book, Parenting the Wholehearted Child, has done just that.
For a while after Junior was born, in the midst of doctor’s appointments, therapies, surgeries…and homeschooling, homemaking, blogging, cooking, cleaning, and being chauffeur to Stinker’s various sports activities, I tried to do it all. I really, really tried. And guess what? I came to a point of exhaustion. Utter and complete, burned out to the core, exhaustion. I became less patient with the kids, more snarky to my husband, and downright emotionally draining to the people around me. (Sorry, Mom!)
But, I realized that trying to do it all actually gave me the ability to do less. I adore my kids, but most of the time I was parenting more out of duty than out of love because I was so focused on getting everything done. After I came to my breaking point, I stopped trying to do it all, gave myself grace, and let some things go. I started to really love life and even the challenges of parenting, again.
Jeannie’s book really spoke to me. The basis of the book is that the greatest gift we can give our children is to point them to the great, deep, and extravagant grace of Jesus. That they are not loved (or liked) because of what they’ve done or haven’t done, but because of what Jesus has done for them. Our trying to be a “perfect parent” raising “perfect children” is not only unrealistic, but harmful to our children’s sense of who God is…not a God who zaps us for disobeying, but a God who covers us with His love and grace, and has perfect patience as we seek to be more like Him. We don’t need to do it all as a parent, we just need to lead them to Him.
Throughout the book, Jeannie gives practical, hands-on advice for teaching our children the freedom and joy that extravagant grace brings, and I found myself nodding and thinking to myself “that makes sense”, many times. The book is also convicting, because it encourages parents that our walk with the Lord must be on the right track if we want to point our children to Him. Are we truly bathed in His love and grace, or are we just going through the motions? Do we see God as someone who is sitting there waiting for us to sin, so He can push us down and say “I told you so”?, or is He a loving, perfect God who picks us up when we fall and carries us in our most difficult times? Our perspective on who God is really influences the God that we portray to our children, and the way we parent. If we parent with grace, we portray grace. If we parent with unrealistic expectations of perfection, we portray harshness.
Parenting with grace doesn’t mean lack of discipline, however, and I like how Parenting the Wholehearted Child devoted several chapters on behavior expectations and discipline. Parenting is the hardest job in the world, and we will fail at times, but this book reminded me that the greatest thing we can do for our children is to point them to the only perfect parent…God. I recommend this book to all my mommy friends, and even dads.
Bottom Line: 9.5*/10*
*Thank you to Booklook Bloggers and Zondervan for providing me a complimentary copy of this book for review. All opinions are my own, and have not been swayed or influenced.
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