Sharing the fruit of experience

18 August 2009

Rebecca Paveley values the tried-and-tested wisdom in a parenting manual from HTB

The Parenting Book
Nicky Lee and Sila Lee

Alpha International £7.99 (978-1-905887-36-1)
Church Times Bookshop £7.20

PARENTING BOOKS are, I fear, a bit like cookery books — they are not bought by the people who could really do with them. There are plenty of them about these days, and most of them say the same sort of things, with varying degrees of emphasis. I suspect the market for many of them — alongside those cookery books that promote healthy food for toddlers — are those so called “helicopter” mothers currently beloved of the press; those anxious parents who really could do with letting go, rather than reading yet another book that makes them question their own parenting skills. On the other hand, those who may need the parenting support perhaps don’t have the leisure to read a book on the subject.

Nicky and Sila Lee’s Parenting Book is certainly comprehensive, and has the weightiness of a manual. It is well presented, with amusing illustrations — not sur­prisingly for a title that comes from the Holy Trinity Brompton/Alpha family. Nicky and Sila are, it becomes clear in the introduction, best friends with Nicky Gumbel and his wife, and have been teaching the parenting course at HTB for years, as well as bringing up four children themselves.

As childcare manuals go, it is well written and informative, containing amusing anecdotes from their own family life, and quotes from their own children. In true HTB style, there are plenty of celebrity quotes, and backing, from Alpha converts such as Bear Grylls and Natasha Kaplinksy.

But that isn’t to denigrate the book, because in many ways — despite being something of a veteran in Christian child-care books — I found this one inform­ative and helpful. It isn’t afraid to discuss the difficult issues of sex, drugs, and teenage rebellion against parents’ value-systems, including a refusal to go to church; and its faith focus is light rather than stodgy.

The tips section is particularly helpful; and I found the discussion of the different ways in which children can give and receive love illuminating.

So although the subject isn’t new, and the suggestions for a functional and happy family life — including creating family time and spending time with each child individually — can be found in other parenting books, the clarity, comprehensive-ness, and sheer tried-and-tested nature of its wisdom make The Parenting Book a strong contender for space on a family’s bookshelf.

Will it reach the parts other parenting books can’t reach? It has a better chance than most.

Rebecca Paveley is a journalist and media adviser to the Bishop of Exeter.

Order this book through CT Bookshop

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