Raising Little Ones: Four Book Reviews

The fireworks lit up the night sky just hours after they placed my first born daughter on my chest. It was Canada Day, but to me, the fireworks were all for her, my little princess. All I could think of to say was “I love you, I love you, I love you…” over and over as I held her close, my body worn from labor and deliriously in love with this beautiful child God had given us. The very first book my husband read to our daughter happened to be Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers. I was asleep while he read Tolkien’s brooding classic in the wee hours of the morning. I probably would have chosen something a little lighter such as Beatrix Potter, but he went straight for the literary genius himself. Our daughter was finally in our arms.

As a new mom, I was unaware of the thousands of books written about parenting. Which ones were good and which ones were bad? Which ones were trending in churches and which ones were from our parents’ generation, still sitting on their shelves in their libraries at home. And if I turned out okay, maybe I should read those books that my parents read!

To be honest, I wanted to be in the know for all the latest how-to parenting answers. But I just couldn’t keep up. There were constantly new books on the market. I felt that I was missing out on the latest method of how to say “no” to your child when they are taking a toy away from their friend. I hadn’t realized there were two new approaches I hadn’t heard of! I got insecure and wondered if my methods were outdated. I modeled my mothering after my own mother, whom I believe did a faithful job of raising her children. My mother has been my living book on topics of homemaking, raising girls, hospitality, decorating, and creating a Christ-centered home. She has been my living example.

Of the books that I have read on parenting little ones, there are four that stand out:

Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp
Craig and I were introduced to this book by some friends. We even got to go to the Shepherding a Child’s Heart parenting conference. This book was a great introduction into the world of gospel parenting. Of course you cannot reduce parenting to a textbook but it holds much practical and helpful advice which we needed as we were starting out on this journey.

The Hidden Art of Homemaking by Edith Schaeffer
I heard about this book from my pastor’s wife in Washington. Edith Schaeffer is an author that I am slowly getting to know. There is a Schaeffer theme that has been weaving its way through our lives in the past 10 years. It started when we went to L’Abri in Switzerland and spent 6 weeks at this Christian community. I made lentil lasagna in her kitchen with other students and remember chopping vegetables and having many conversations with staff and students in their home. Mrs Schaeffer was still living nearby but access to her was very limited in her elderly age, so I was unable to meet with her. But I would have loved to. She wrote this book, mostly about creating a home environment, yet parenting, art and creativity are so naturally woven into everything about her homemaking that it is one of my favorite parenting books! From spending time in her home, I can imagine what it would have been like for her while writing these books and raising her children in the chalet at Huemoz. And it makes me want to go back there right now!

The Ministry of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson
Sally Clarkson has been ministering to moms for decades and yet I only discovered her writing after our third child was born. Another book offering from my pastor’s wife at our baby shower, it was one that I was eagerly anticipating to read. Sally speaks from years of experience as a mother discipling her children. As mothers, our first and primary ministry is to our husbands and to our children, discipling, training, and mentoring. We have the opportunity to invest our lives into these few children who daily see our struggles, our failures, and the glory of Christ bestowing His grace again and again in our own hearts. This is ministry. This is true discipleship. And it happens right in the sanctuary of our own homes. How much more important it is then to build our homes into Christ honoring ministry centers. This book is about offering Jesus to our children.

Give Them Grace by Elyse Fitzpatrick & Jessica Thompson
This is the most recent book on parenting that I have read. Elyse Fitzpatrick and her daughter, Jessica Thompson, have written this beautiful volume, incorporating both experience from Elyse as a grandmother looking back and her daughter reflecting on parenting in the midst of it. Last Fall, we were in transition. I was utterly burnt out and seeking the Lord for guidance in our home management. He is such a gentle shepherd. (Even writing that makes me smile). Our God is great! He lovingly led my husband and I in the direction He was leading us. One night in desperation, I looked up Christian parenting books online and when I saw this title, it was like God was speaking directly to me. It was a refreshing reminder of Biblical parenting and gave very practical and helpful suggestions for specific things to say and questions to ask when correcting behavior or dealing with deeper heart issues.

It seems that with every new baby, I had a desire to read another parenting book, focus in on my mission as a mother, and to find insight and wisdom to carry out this huge task of motherhood. There are many wonderful things to learn from parenting books. Its definitely helpful. But don’t neglect reading God’s Word.

We’re often wanting to read the latest thing that our favorite author or ministry leader has said, without devoting time to the study of Scripture where all our parenting should flow out of. This is the true source of wisdom, comfort, rest, hope, peace, and strength in the beautiful and challenging days of motherhood. There are many different parenting styles and everyone has their opinion. Even in all these books, there might be one or two certain opinions that I don’t necessarily agree with. Keeping opinions vs. biblical truth straight is a practice in discernment. Keeping the Word of God central in your parenting will help to hone in on what is truly Biblical and what is just someone’s opinion. It will nourish and feed our souls like no other book can do, and will draw us closer to the Greatest Parent of all.

Other resources that have encouraged me in the beautiful calling of motherhood:
Loving the Little Years by Rachel Jankovic
Passionate Homemaking by Lindsay Edmonds
Mom Enough: The Fearless Mother’s Heart & Hope by Various Authors

These two books contain chapters on motherhood within the larger framework of the book and have been a great encouragement to me as well:
Feminine Appeal by Carolyn Mahaney
Womanly Dominion by Mark Chanski