Raising Unselfish Children in a Self-Absorbed World has been a very convicting read, because sometimes I can be pretty self-absorbed (as if you didn't know). I think a lot of people in my generation are, and the problem's only getting worse. Way worse. The author speaks to the perils of the self-esteem craze and emphasizes the importance of teaching kids, with faith in God, and enormous love, to be humble, gracious, compassionate and capable human beings. One of my favorite quotes, from pg. 75: "Kids don't need parents who make them happy. They need parents who will make them capable." She has so many practical suggestions for how to do this that I've literally been copying page after page (it's a library book), building up materials for our everyday lives (like speaking blessings in prayer over my kids from the Bible--she offers a great list of scriptures) and for our family Kumbya nights (using a puzzle to teach kids about the borders God creates in our lives to help orient us to our calling, and then finding our special place as a piece within his master puzzle, which in turn helps others to find their places--beautiful!). She also has month by month suggestions for activities I'll be adopting for our family nights, once we finish dissecting our family motto each week.
The other books pictured above are ones I haven't read, but are next up on my list:
Raising a G-rated Family in an X-rated World
The Price of Privilege
Too Much of a Good Thing
Notice a theme? I think the idea of my kids going to school in Johnson County is stirring up some fears about the materialistic, entitled world around us.
Here are a few other parenting books I love (add Meg Meeker's classic, Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters, Dr. Laura's In Praise of Stay at Home Moms, and Parenting With the End in Mind here, unpictured):
God at the Kitchen Table and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families emphasize the importance of family devotions, which is something we've adopted once a week (our Camp Connelly Kumbya nights). The 7 Habits book is an absolute treasure trove, and I usually have it open on my nightstand--family mission statements and shared visions, traditions that create unity, the sacred stewardship of family, how to push against the forces corroding families and homes. I'm crazy in love with this one!
7 Ways to be a Smarter Mom was written by a very inspirational woman I've become friends with, Kasey Johnson. I love this book because it offers so many practical suggestions for how to become a more efficient parent, and I've used it to create a cleaning schedule (inspired by hers) that has done wonders for the sanctuary and sanctity of our home. I haven't read Good Night, Sleep Tight in awhile, but I remember it being very helpful when the kids were younger, and I may need to pull this one out again.
The next book I'm looking forward to reading is Loving Our Kids on Purpose, which my friend, Jennifer, recommended. We're digging into this one, with the accompanying DVDs, in the fall when our small group branches out into a smaller small group with two new couples. I've been skimming through this one, which is about modeling our parenting after our relationship with God, and teaching our kids the principles of being part of the Kingdom. The book counters the interpretation that 'spare the rod, spoil the child' means we need to hit our kids to raise them properly. We don't spank our kids (though let me tell you, I've been tempted!), and I'm hoping to learn more strategies for gentle forms of discipline from this book, which is based on the Love and Logic approach.
And my favorite kids' Bible of all time, which reveals how every story in the Bible is a symbolic tie to God's Great Rescue Plan, in the life of Jesus, is called The Jesus Storybook Bible. I haven't interpreted the Bible as a whole literally or fundamentally ever since I was fairly young (despite having been taught to by most churches I've attended), because I think the books need to be seen for their specific genres, for their places in human history, and for their culmination in telling the BIG story. I do have a great reverence for the book, but I worship God and Jesus, not the Bible itself--an important distinction. I'm currently reading the whole Bible through systematically, and I can't ignore that there are some inconsistencies, problems with the origin tales (for instance, read closely the beginning chapters of Genesis, in which two conflicting tales of the creation of Adam are compiled together, preserved side by side--was he created as in Ch. 1, after vegetation, or before the vegatation, as in Ch. 2, and bigger question: does it really matter?), some very jarring stories (perhaps some perspectives of warrior cultures are present here?), and some tales (like Jonah) that are riddled with humorous hyperboles and strong symbolic motifs. That's not to say this applies to the compilation of books as a whole (again, genre is so essential, as well as research into how the books themselves were compiled), and it doesn't discount that I do believe many of the stories did happen, all miracles included. It's just that all the above issues hinder my own ability to take it all in literally, word for word without error, or even believe that this was the original intent. I think the big, overarching picture--GOD'S RESCUE PLAN through his Son, JESUS CHRIST--is enhanced and made more stunningly clear when the Bible is interpreted as in this children's Bible: a beautiful, multi-dimensional love story of the Redeemer of the World, revealed through many flawed human beings by God over time, whose stories and inspirations are recorded in scripture. To me, it all makes God and Jesus even more intimate, mysterious, wondrous, and yet accessible, somehow. Enough about my soapbox views on Biblical interpretations. All I want to say is that this is the best children's Bible I've ever encountered, and speaks well to the adult audience too--a true paradigm shifter, this beauty:
Just look at the gorgeous illustrations!
So to make a long story even longer, that's what I've been reading lately.