Everyone has an opinion on parenting and everyone has an opinion they are eager to share, sometimes leaving others feeling inadequate or incapable of parenting their children. Every parent, at some point, questions if they are handling a situation "the right way." Am I wrong? Are you included, here?
The pressure we face to raise Godly children who express Jesus' love to others and who are compassionate and obedient. Ah, there's that word that we all seem to emphasize so much: obedient. Do your children obey all the time? Do you want them to? Do you find a hard balance between them being obedient and having their own personality? Did I strike a nerve, just by mentioning the word obedience? Do you wonder if you had a better relationship with your children, would they be more obedient?
Parenting is hard stuff. In fact, having been a full-time college student while working full-time, climbing the corporate ladder, and planning my wedding for the day after college graduation, I would go so far as to say that parenting is the hardest thing I have ever done. It is also the longest-running job I've ever had. Being in charge of other people and thinking I'm responsible for their behavior is even harder. How about you? Are you with me on this?
Enter Dr. James D. Dempsey and his book Parenting UnChained: Overcoming the Ten Deceptions that Shackle Christian Parents, published by National Center of Biblical Parenting. Now, I am sure there are more than 10 deceptions that shackle Christian parents, but this sure is a good start to guide parents through breaking those chains with which Satan grips us. We often don't even realize we've been shackled until we find ourselves struggling. After all, I'll say it again, parenting is hard. "Parenting UnChained helps you keep the most important principles of parenting in mind while avoiding Satan's traps." (page 13)
However, by breaking those chains, it doesn't have to be as hard. We have to realize we've believed lies and understand how to combat those with lies with truth. We have to look at the relationships we have that influence our parenting and realize that the only opinion that really matters is God's; the most important relationship to mimic to and with our children is our relationship with Jesus. Dempsey walks us through this process. Many chapters include activities and suggestions to introspectively examine the reader's heart, helping the us to combat the lies and overcome the deceptions we've believed so we can apply biblical truth to our marriages and parenting and grow our children with a more firm foundation of faith. Some of the areas of emphasis are re-building relationships, understanding we don't have to do it all or all by ourselves, focusing on the heart first and then obedience, modeling the attributes of God and building the character of our children, using effective discipline that evolves as our children grows, talking openly about or faith, helping our children determine their goals and direction for life, and how to overcome the challenges of life.
Initially, Dempsey gives a background of himself, in the early days of his marriage, to give the reader a glimpse of how he came to recognize the deceptions that he outlines in Parenting UnChained. Then he describes how our experiences and relationships shape us and influence our relationships with our children and how to adjust them, if necessary. He discusses how obedience flows from the parent/child relationship and the impact of discipline on obedience. As the book goes on, in chapter 14, Dempsey uses Jesus as the model and breaks down characteristics, personal skills, and general habits of Jesus for parents to model. I don't know about you, but I could read this chapter over and over again to solidify these qualities in myself. Towards the end of the book, Dempsey brings us through how parents need to adapt as their children grow older and more mature. "Consistency" is drilled into us by society, but it's another deception. As our children mature, we need to be letting go of how tightly we parent them, preparing them for the freedom of adulthood and trusting them to make choices based on the firm foundation that we have helped them form, being adaptable as our children grow and their behaviors and needs change.
Dempsey doesn't claim to be a know-it-all on the subject of Christian parenting. He includes recommendations for a few additional books that are also helpful resources for parents, but reminds us to not read so many parenting books that we become confused or lose sight of where our focus should be. I appreciate this because there may be areas of our parenting where we may need more encouragement or modification in our character development, maybe we still have some challenges from our past that negatively influence our parenting or our relationship with our children. The resources he provides can be helpful. He doesn't just leave us hanging at the end of the book,as if it were the perfect resource. Obviously, he points us to the Bible throughout Parenting UnChained.
With every chapter, I found myself thinking how helpful the information was. The biblical references and examples were so clearly influential within the context of parenting that I don't know how I missed some of it in general bible reading. (Sometimes I need things spelled out, I guess, or given clearly in a context of application.)
I think Parenting UnChained would be beneficial for any Christian parent to keep available. Reading it during the toddler years will yield some benefit and re-reading again during the grade school, junior high and then high school years would be a great refresher because sometimes we, as parents, get into a rut. This is not a book to read and pass on to someone else. Keep it and read it again in a few years. It would also be a great asset for those providing biblical family counseling for parents and for church libraries.
You can purchase it here on Amazon. It's available in paperback or on Kindle. From 12/8/14-12/12/14 you can purchase the Kindle version for 99-cents! Even if you don't have a Kindle, you can still read it through the free Kindle app for computers or devices.
For more information about Dr. James Dempsey or Parenting UnChained, visit D6Culture.com.
Disclaimer: I received Parenting UnChained for free in exchange for my honest opinion. Receiving it free did not influence my opinion of this book and I did not receive any compensation in exchange for my opinion.
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