Monday, May 18, 2009

30 Ways in 30 Days to Save Your Family, by Rebecca Hagelin

** Reviewed by Jonathan & Carrie

Jonathan's take:

30 Ways in 30 Days to Save Your Family. Because everybody's family needs a little saving every once in a while!

Honestly, it's hard to review books on parenting. (I think this is why Carrie pawned the job off on me this time.) You can't get away with shallow, surface-level commentary, like you can with fiction: "Loved the plot! But not enough semicolons."

It also feels a bit presumptuous for me to give a hard, squinty-eyed look at parenting advice, voicing my opinions as though I'm the expert on the subject. Ha! Well, of course, I have every right to be -- all our kids so far excel academically, are developing a strong faith, respect us as parents, and we genuinely enjoy being together...

But, when he turns 3 years old this fall, all bets are off.

Really, my most lucid thought this week on the subject of parenting was, "Man, potty-training is going to be a lot harder than I expected."

But, anyway, back to my squinty-eyed critique. (I'll wander off-topic like this pretty regularly, because Carrie's been setting hefty word count quotas for my reviews lately. Just kidding! I'm actually just a naturally distracted kind of individual.)

30 Ways in 30 Days to Save Your Family doesn't do much beating around the bush. It's down-to-earth, practical advice on a diverse enough set of topics to be useful to parents at almost any stage of child-rearing.

The biggest theme throughout the book is encouraging us as parents to take responsibility and authority over our homes, and not allowing the influences of today's culture to make decisions for us. And so, love for our children should motivate us to invest the time and attention to make our homes into fruitful environments where kids will thrive.

Easier said than done!

I think the problem we most battle as parents is ourselves. And our own, well, laziness. It's so easy compromise our parenting style by giving a higher priority to other projects or work, and not putting the attention into parenting that we need to. Because, truly, it's a thankless task. (At least, for the first 20 years!)

So, what we need is daily encouragement and motivation. Which this book provides, in spades. Although I was a bit skeptical with the way it's broken into individual sections to take you through "30 Days", I actually appreciate it now. Rather than digest it in a couple sittings and put it back on the shelf, treat it as more than just "information" -- our role of parents is of paramount importance, and we need that to be reinforced early and often.

This is the role we signed up for, as parents. And we all consciously recognize the importance of it, but the author does an eloquent job of putting that into words in a practical -- and often humorous -- way. It's not heavy reading, but it is important reading. (Although, I was disappointed by the lack of attention given to the subject of potty-training...)

I'm not familiar with Rebecca Hagelin's earlier book on child-rearing in today's culture, but after reading this, I may be following up on it!


Carrie's take:

Jonathan beat me to the book this time and he read it first. He gave it a positive review so I picked it up and quickly devoured it. (Neither of us like to spread our reading out over a period of 30 days so we both read it in "one" sitting.)

The thing I appreciated about this book the most is Hagelin's unapologetic approach to parenting. She claims the God-given right to parent and guide her own children and encourages other parents to do the same. Regardless of whether you are at the doctor's office, in a parent-teacher conference with your child's teacher or wherever - YOU bear the responsibility of raising your own children and passing along your values to them. In a day and age where everyone is clamoring to raise your children for you, I found this book refreshing.

Hagelin does offer practical advice at how you can be involved in your children's lives. I most appreciated the description of how they built their home so that their children's friends felt welcome to be among them. By creating an atmosphere of love and fun, the Hagelins have a better idea of who their children are hanging out with and spending time with. She motivated me to build a home that is attractive not only to our own children, but to others also.

This was indeed a great book and I'd heartily recommend it to any parent or soon-to-be parent. It's a much needed kick in the pants.


Ronnica said...

Sounds good, and something to keep in mind when I become a parent!

Amy @ Hope Is the Word said...

You said "in a day in age when everyone is clamoring to raise your child for you. . ." (or something like that)--amen, sister! This sounds like a great book!

Amy @ Hope Is the Word said...

Oops--that should've been "day and age," not "day in age." : )

Marie Cloutier said...

sounds terrific. i'll look for it for some new parents i know :-)

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