Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Bringing Up Girls

I sat a moment just now trying to think of a "catchy" title for this book review, but in the end have decided that the title of the book is as good a title for this post as any.  This week I sat down with Dr. Dobson's book Bringing Up Girls.  It was an interesting experience.  Dr. Dobson's book Bringing Up Boys has become one of those books that everyone knows, mentions in conversations, and has read or knows someone who has.  Bringing Up Girls was written by Dobson and then published in 2010 for parents of girls in response to parents asking for a similar book about girls.  

Seven years ago, I would have picked up this book and responded a certain with to Dobson's words.  This week I responded in a completely different way than I would have then.  Seven years ago, I was in my early 30s and the mother of one little girl with one on the way. My husband and I had only just moved to a new state and were adjusting to a completely different place with no family or friends to walk with.  I know I would have read this book and been scared, alarmed, and fearful of what was ahead for my children.  I would have wanted to hide them in a bomb shelter with me and at the same time been deeply fearful of how I could potentially and fatally wound my children for the rest of their lives.  Seven years later, two kids later, five years of homeschooling later, and seven years older--this book struck me very differently.   I recognized the alarmist tone of the book.  I also saw some good things in the book--like the intention of making parents aware of how the things they say can affect their daughters.  

One of my friends who has many children once said something to me that I'll never forget.  She told me that when her oldest children were young, she and the other young mothers at her church latched onto certain parenting advice in the hope that if they parented right, then it would guarantee that their children would turn out to be Christians as adults and would turn out the way they hoped they would.  She explained to me, though, that there is no "right" way to parent and there is no "guarantee".  

The way I took her advice was that I needed to seek the Lord and pray for my children.  I need to love them well and trust God to take care of them.  I need to be aware of what they will face in the future and do my best to prepare them, with God's help to face it!  But, most of all, I need to let go.  I need to let go of the belief that I can parent "perfectly".  I need to remain humble and not be tempted to live through my children.  I am an imperfect parent who loves my children.

There is a family I once knew who was very strict with their children.  The parents sincerely loved their children, but were so strict that when their children grew they walked away from the Lord.  I have wondered if they parented out of fear.  

When we homeschool, there is the temptation to shelter our children from everything bad in the world.  One of the great weaknesses of  doing this is that though it keeps them from harmful influences when they are young, they may not be able to cope with and understand the world when they have to live in it on their own unless they are gradually exposed.  I feel like I am constantly trying to figure out what this balance is--how to be in this world, but not of it.  My husband strongly challenged me on this very topic this past weekend.

I like what Tim Kimmel says in Grace Based Parenting--that we are to equip our children well so that they can move into adulthood as vital members of the human race...(he) didn't say "as vital members of the Christian community." We need to have kids that can be sent off to the most hostile universities, toil in the greediest work environments...and...not be the least bit intimidated by their surroundings.  Furthermore, they need to be engaged in the lives of people in their culture, gracefully representing Christ's love inside these desperate surroundings." p. 9  

I know there is a place for being wise and guarded about what we expose our children to in the world.  We don't have cable television and I filter what my children read--for now.  There will come a day when they must choose their own books and I won't have a say.  So, I want them to be strong and courageous and filled with love for others--not filled with fear.  

But, I'm afraid I've gone on a very long rabbit trail rather than reviewing this book.  So, back to this book...

There's another fear that I felt creeping into my own heart as I read this book.  I thought about the things my husband and I don't do that Dr. Dobson feels very strongly about.  Does this mean we're bad parents?  Are we not loving our children because my husband doesn't take our girls on "dates"?  I don't think so.  My husband has explained how he feels about it to me and he feels it is only appropriate for dates to be between men and women in a romantic relationship--whether dating or marriage.  I can understand and support that.  I'm also okay knowing that a lot of other dads enjoy taking their daughters on 

"dates".  Every family is different.  

When I picked up this book, I realized that this is a formula "how to" parent kind of book.  One that is likely going to scare you.  Is it a bad book?  No.  I'm sure it will encourage a lot of people.  But, is it the parenting book I'd recommend?  No.  First I'd recommend Growing Grateful Kids by Susie Larson.  Then, I'd recommend one of Kendra Smiley's books on parenting.  Please forgive my bluntness about this book and my reaction to it.  I suppose it is very honest.  I can't quite articulate all of my concerns and what I am thinking, but I've tried. 

Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from Tyndale Publishing.

No comments: