February Book of the Month: Parenting Children by Mark and Lindsay Melluish
The Naija Housewives’ Book of the Month of February is Parenting Children by Mark and Lindsay Melluish. If you have ever looked at your child in bafflement wondering how to handle him or her; or you have prayed and wished there was a manual on how to raise you child, then you are in luck because this book is probably the closest to a parenting manual you will find out there.
There are 10 chapters and I’ll take you through a brief summary of each chapter so that you know what to expect.
Chapter One: A Vision for the Family
This chapter introduces a concept which you might be familiar with, and that is having a vision for your family. The writers explain that if you don’t have a vision for your family, you will get lost in the details. Having a vision for your family includes knowing what your core values are. So, if your core values are forgiveness, love and kindness (amongst others), even your disciplinary process will be guided by that. To quote the writers:
“It is all about the destination of our family. Where are we heading? If we can give our family a destination, we can protect ourselves, to some extent, from getting caught up in everyday management and losing sight of the vision and goal we originally had when our children started coming along. If we are not protected in this way, we may move from vision to survival.”
They also go further to point out that the most effective way to lead our children is to reach out to them; get to know their hearts and what is important to them.
Chapter Two: Love and Marriage
In this chapter, the importance of the family as the single most basic unit in a society is acknowledged. The effect of the parents’ marriage on the children is also explored. What we particularly liked about this chapter is the way the authors took the time to acknowledge the single parents and how hard they work; they have to singly do the work of two people.
For those who are married, this quote by a man called Theodore Hesberg was quoted in the book, and it is worthy of note”
“The most important thing a father can do for his children, is to love their mother.”
If you’re a man reading this and that’s the only thing you take from this review, it would be well worth it.
The authors stress the importance of a strong marriage in parenting. They say that “even though we have children, our relationship with our partner is the most important relationship in the family. The quality of all the relationships in the family, and also the security of our children, will depend upon the quality of Mum and Dad’s relationship.” So we should be committed to making our marriages the best they can be, not just for our sake, but for our children.
There is one thing I felt I should highlight when I was reading this chapter and it has to do with making your life revolve around your children. Many of us are guilty of that. When things are not going to well with our partners, we (especially the women), focus on our children to the exclusion of our partners. The authors listed 5 reasons why focusing 100% on the children was not a good thing. They also went on to show practically, how you can keep your relationship with your partner top priority.
They talk about the 5 Love Languages and how to find out what your child’s love language is.
Chapter Three: When They Are Young
Do you spend enough time with your kids? Do you give them QUALITY time? If you’re wondering how to make sure that every time you spend with the children counts, this is the chapter that covers it. It deals with:
- Keeping your relationship with your kids strong
- Making sure the channels of communication are always open
- How to let them know you love them
There are practical tips on communication. To understand how important communication is, they say that to “communicate with your children is to invest long-term in their characters.
This chapter really teaches us how to have meaningful relationships with our children and includes sub-topics such as always keep your promises and give plenty of hugs.
Chapter Four: Family Time
One area that struck me in this chapter is the fact that every family has an identity, just like each person has an identity. If you pause to think about it, and take a moment to think of the families you know as a collective whole, you will discover that families do have their identities. In this chapter, we learn how to determine what our family identity is going to look like and this includes family roles and how we resolve conflict within the family.
There is an exercise there for both partners to determine what their family identity was (before they got married) to better help them form a cohesive identity for their new family. When you think of the fact that children become a product of their life experience and how they interact with that experience, then you will agree that the exercise is invaluable.
Don’t worry if you’re not sure how to forge a positive family identity, the authors provide enough information, tips and experiences on that.
Chapter Five: Outside Influences
Here are some of the outside influences that affect your family:
- other adults
How do your children respond to these influences? How can you help them without stifling their growth? This chapter answers those questions.
Chapter Six: Transmitting Values
How do you transmit the value of being a provider and protector to your five year old son? It definitely isn’t by telling him. Too often we see our mirror images in the things our children do and say and they are not always positive things. This chapter deals with that and once again, we see how family values come to play in a huge way.
Take ‘The Healthy Conscience’ test and discover if you have a healthy conscience because you can’t give what you don’t have.
Chapter Seven: Guiding and Shaping
This chapter is probably the one you will want to turn to first, because it deals with discipline. However, the authors advice that the first six chapters are very important. That is not to say that this is not; as a matter of fact it is very important. BUT they are clear that ‘Discipline’ is not just about punishment and smacking.
Many children have a problem with obedience and this is crucial to discipline. If you have difficulty getting your children to do what you ask them to do, then you should read this book. This chapter lists the benefits of obedience and the need for you to have authority. The good news is that you’re not left to navigate the waters on your own; we’re taken from the negative methods like offering bribes, negotiating in the midst of conflict and offering too many options for example, to more positive methods. They share tried and tested tips for handling discipline, including how to deal with tantrums.
Chapter Eight: Taking Corrective Action
Each child is different, plus they respond to different situations in differing ways therefore it is important to try different forms of corrective action. This is a really practical chapter, which categorizes the levels of offences (or naughtiness) and how you could possibly respond to each level.
One thing they noted was that discipline should be positive.
Chapter Nine: Modeling Love and Respect
Whether we like it or not, our children will often do as they see us do. Yes, we can teach them the right and proper behaviour by telling them what to do, but our actions will often be the greatest and most graphic teacher of all.
This love and respect is not just for others but also towards us as parents. The authors point out that while it’s alright to want to be friends with your children, don’t take for granted the fact that you are first and foremost a parent. What your young children need is not a friend, but a parent. They then go on to share tips on how you can get your children to respect you. This respect should also be shown towards their brothers and sisters (even to the younger ones) and also to other adults.
Chapter Ten: Keeping the Vision in Mind
This brings us back to the couple as a unit. If you want your dream or vision for your family to come to pass, you need to take time to invest in your marriage. According to the authors, “It is not about marrying the right partner, it is about being the right partner.”
This chapter ties up all the other chapters neatly and has a worksheet to help you create your family’s vision statement.
This is a practical book that looks at parenting from the inside out. It is not just theoretical, filled with high flowing ideas that one cannot put to practice, but is very grounded and realistic. I love that it does not teach you how to raise perfect children, if that is what you’re looking for then this book is not for you; but it does teach you how to raise children who have the right heart, right values and right attitude towards life.
The authors are British, but you don’t have to worry about being unable to relate to their teachings especially from the Nigerian stance. Their views are not extremely western and you will find a lot of gems in this little book.
One thing you need to know is that this is based on biblical principles. So if you are not a christian, you might not be entirely comfortable with this as the authors placed a lot of quotes from the Bible and they use Bible passages to support their view. However, the principles here are solid and the teaching is based on practical experience so even if you choose to ignore the Biblical references, you will still get a lot out of this.
Overall, I loved this book and I will definitely read it over and over again.
How to Get the Book
If you don’t get the book in your local bookstore, you can order it online from www.BookDepository.com … They deliver to any location in the world.
This book was reviewed by Sharon D. Fiberesima for NaijaHousewives.com