When Jason and I were engaged we like to have hypothetical discussions about how we were going to parent our hypothetical children. We'd watch other parents and talk about things we thought were good parenting strategies and things we thought weren't. Although we couldn't have described it then, there were some strategies that just seemed to resonate with us. And, little by little, without being able to put a name to it, we began to have an idea of the parenting style we wanted to try to emulate. It took a few years into our marriage and even into the beginnings of parenting before we ever heard the term "heart parenting." And when we did, we knew that this was an excellent description of what we wanted to do with our children.
Lately I've had the opportunity to review a few resources from The National Center for Biblical Parenting. Although I didn't learn about this organization until recently, the information that they give to parents really focuses on this concept of heart parenting. And there are so many great resources that they have available. I've reviewed Motivate Your Child (read my review here) and Motivate Your Child Action Plan (read my review here). Now I've had the opportunity to be a part of the launch of an awesome program that The National Center for Biblical Parenting has available for churches. In an effort to help churches equip parents, The National Center for Biblical Parenting has launched this program to help churches become a Parenting Training Center. You can learn more about this program here. (And keep reading to see a special offer for churches who want to purchase this program.)
One key component of a Parent Training Center will be the book Parenting Is Heart Work by Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller. These are the same authors of the previous books I reviewed- and loved!- and I was so glad to be able to review this one as a part of this launch.
The book is written to help parents understand the difference between parenting that is focused on behavior- which is much more often the norm in our culture and even in our churches- and parenting that truly seeks to bring about a change of heart in our children.The book is divided into four parts: Understanding the Heart, Connecting With Your Child's Heart, Working Out Heart Change, and Touching Your Child's Heart.
The authors begin by helping parents to see the difference in heart parenting. Many times our parenting is done just to bring about a certain behavior. Thoughts of what's in the child's heart aren't considered. And many Christians parent this way just because it's the way they were parented and because it's just what they see from other parents around them. The idea of heart parenting can be a new one to many parents. So the authors make sure that parents understand.
The authors also begin with- and will mention throughout the book- the idea that the first change has to come in our lives as parents. When we allow God to work in our lives, then we can begin to reach the hearts of our children. I love the idea reflected in this quote: "We sometimes say children are a pain in the neck or they're getting in our hair. Try placing them over your heart." I'm reminded right from the start that my heart is important and that praying for my children without ceasing is crucial to parenting.
There are so many other great quotes to mull over as you read through Parenting Is Heart Work. I was touched and impressed by this book as I have been the others I've reviewed from these authors. Many times I find myself reading and nodding in agreement. And sometimes I'm reading and find myself convicted. Other times I find myself with highlighter in hand, marking a passage that gives me a great idea.
There are a few things I really love about the content of Parenting Is Heart Work.
- The authors take time to make sure that parents understand the concept of heart parenting. This parenting method is counter cultural. Even within the church among Christian parents there are much more often parents who are focused on behaviors and who don't understand what it means to touch the hearts of their children.
- Every principle in the book is biblically based. The authors refer to Scripture again and again to help parents see that these principles come from the Bible. Each of the four parts of the book opens with a "Heart Story From the Bible" that illustrates the importance of heart attitude and heart change.
- The book isn't just theoretical. It's practical. Many times I've read parenting books that have good principles that I want to implement in our family. But there are no practical ideas. And I walk away frustrated because it sounds good, but it just doesn't work in real life. Dr. Scott Turansky is a pastor and has frequent opportunity to work with parents and families. Joanne Miller is a pediatric nurse who has opportunity to interact with children and parents regularly. The book is full of real life illustrations of putting the principles into practice.
- There is a Reader's Guide available at the end of the book that will make this a great book to read and discuss with a group of parents or just with your spouse as you seek to make changes within your family.