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Of such is the kingdom of heaven

20 May 2016

Rachel Harden reads about child-raising

Wonderfully Made: Enjoying life with God’s precious gift (handbook)
Mary Winter
The Good Book Company £3.49
Church Times Bookshop £3.14


Wonderfully Made: Enjoying life with God’s precious gift (DVD)
Mary Winter
The Good Book Company £14.99
Church Times Bookshop £13.50


Parenting Children for a Life of Confidence: Releasing children to live in God’s strength
Rachel Turner
BRF £8.99
Church Times Bookshop £8.10

The Life You Never Expected: Thrive while parenting special needs children

Andrew and Rachel Wilson
IVP £8.99
Church Times Bookshop £8.10


REVIEWING three books on Christian parenting when our youngest has just turned 22 is a reminder of similar books I came across 20-odd years ago and generally ignored. With hindsight, would these have been helpful?

Wonderfully Made is described as “down to earth advice and encouragement for anyone with young children”, which is slightly misleading, as it is a group resource clearly aimed at mums, with a DVD introduction about parenting experiences — from a mum — and a short talk from the author — also a mum.

That aside, it provides helpful material with pertinent icebreaker questions, and the introduction to the course book emphasises that its aim is “supporting each other as we figure out how to survive as parents of young children”.

General discussion is followed by a “Going Further” section based on a Bible passage, with questions linked to relationships and parenting; certainly the strength of this resource is that it will get parents talking. The “Try this at home . . .” section is not rocket science, but it is too easy to assume that all parents instinctively know how to parent. This course certainly provides a safe Christian forum for discussion.

Parenting Children for a Life of Confidence is a realistic look at the fact that, however they are brought up, children are still swayed by the latest trends. Anyway, asks the author, Rachel Turner, a parent and Family Life Pastor, what is confidence in the Christian sense? She says that it is the ordinary moments that shape children spiritually and make them confident, and emphasises that this book is for anyone in a position to influence children.

The theme is being God-centred, not self-centred, with countless biblical examples. “God makes it very clear our confidence should not be in ourselves or our capabilities. Confidence is not a denying of ourselves: it is a recentring of what is important.”

There are three sections; a biblical look at the foundations of confidence; key tools for parenting with confidence; everyday applications, looking at key parenting moments and addressing issues such as peer pressure, body image, and how to deal with failure. It is easy to dip into — just as well, as it is aimed at busy parents.

The Life You Never Expected is by Andrew and Rachel Wilson, parents to two children diagnosed with autism, first, their son, Zeke, then their daughter, Anna. “The biggest loss had been the death of our dreams, one by one, the myriad of little daydreams you had about being a parent.”

They write alternate chapters, focusing on parts of the Bible which have helped them to navigate their daily lives, which are peppered with a range of difficulties, not least lack of sleep. This is not a resource in the literal sense: it is simply a story of how two adults have adjusted to life with two special-needs children, and how their Christian faith has helped them to navigate a very difficult and demanding path.

They write well and very honestly of their experiences, including the strain and absolute commitment in their marriage. This is the book I wish I had read 20 years ago: it will speak to any struggling parent, as it is about real life, not the aspirational one that seems to be the subtext of too many parenting publications.

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