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Authors urge believers to practice purposeful parenting

While the world clamors for our attention to tasks that we deem “urgent,” three authors remind us of something that’s truly important — our calling to be intentional in our parenting.
In “Regret Free Parenting: Raise Good Kids and Know You’re Doing it Right,” licensed psychotherapist Catherine Hickem reminds us that “raising children is the single most difficult job in the world.” The title of the book suggests that it is written for both parents, but mothers are the target audience.
Hickem introduces seven principles of parenting in a long introduction, followed by chapters that develop each concept. Many sentences and phrases of the book are quotable and capture the reader’s attention, but the book lacks cohesion.
The most important principle Hickem proposes is that of being truly intentional about parenting — taking the time to think through the process of rearing our children.
Being present is a recurring theme throughout her book. Hickem writes, “True presence means you’re fully engaged emotionally, listening intently and respectfully interacting with your child.” These principles, while not new, are often ignored in our hurried lives.
Teresa Whitehurst, author of “God Loves Single Moms,” addresses some of the unique issues facing single mothers, using as a backdrop her personal experience as well as her expertise as a clinical psychologist.
Adopting the metaphor of mother as CEO of family operations, Whitehurst begins with questions to help the single mom assess her own mental, emotional and physical needs, followed by an inventory to measure her children’s developmental needs. Subsequent chapters address these topics, so that the mother, as CEO, can formulate a plan of action. The “Recommended Reading” list at the end of the book provides an additional useful resource.
As the title indicates, the book is about the person who is playing the role of mother, not necessarily about specific parenting strategies. Child-rearing is only one aspect of being a mom, especially for the single mom.
Running the household, managing finances and spiritual leadership are examples of other aspects of being a mom that extend beyond parenting. The recurring refrain of “stop, relax, evaluate and plan” appeared in most chapters, suggesting the need to take out time to be intentional.
Most of the topics addressed by Whitehurst would benefit any mother who would like a refreshing book to evaluate her progress and to help her set goals for herself and her family.
The topics would be of value to a mother working outside the home, but are especially encouraging for the single mother because they are addressed in the context of the one parent, where the “buck stops figuratively and literally.”
While the author claims that the book is for any single mom (including widows and women who have adopted children), the many references to a living father suggest that previously married women are the primary audience.
Jim Burns, senior director of HomeWord Center for Youth and Family, addresses the most common questions related to raising teenagers in clear language that gives parents encouragement that they are capable of parenting their teenagers into responsible adulthood.
In “Teenology: The Art of Raising Great Teenagers,” Burns’ method of presenting research-based descriptions of typical teenage behavior and illustrating with examples from his own, now-adult children during their teen years engages the reader to create personal applications.
Seven chapters discuss big-picture guidelines for developing a healthy home where teenagers may grow into responsible adulthood. Specific issues such as media, purity code, communication, the spiritual life of a teenager and our changing culture are solidly treated, supported with research and examples. Additional chapters address the marriage of the parents raising the teenager dealing with the troubled teen and specific issues such as tattoos, driving, or depression, related to teens.
While the material is thorough, each chapter is divided into self-contained sections that can be quickly read and applied. At the same time, the book flows easily for reading larger portions at once, if the reader chooses.
This book leaves the parent feeling ready and eager for the fun ride of the teen years. Of the three books, this volume is the one I’m recommending to my friends.
LAURIE DILES, a wife and mother of two teenage boys, teaches communication at Harding University in Searcy, Ark.

Filed under: Reviews Staff Reports

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