I have a love-hate relationship with parenting books. I have read TONS of them. We are book people, after all, so every time a new one comes on the radar in our circles, we eventually get it and I dive into it, hoping for help and for answers to whatever stage of life my kiddos are in at the time. Most of the ones we’ve gotten are very good. Full of truth, sound doctrine, and biblical principles that I know are true and wholeheartedly amen. But over time, I began to realize that the weight and pressure I felt as a mom trying to raise godly kids increased a little bit with each new book. My kids and my parenting and my family just seemed so far from the picture presented in these books. I would try the method or the language or the technique and it didn’t end up with quite the same result as the author said it had with her kids.
Then several years ago, I read Give Them Grace, by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson, and it was like a breath of fresh air. I needed grace myself, and this book suddenly helped me see that grace is so much bigger than methods and language and techniques. It was a balm to my weary mama soul.
Last month, I read another book that breathed the fresh air of grace into my heart in much the same way. Dannah Gresh has authored many books, and several of them sit on my shelf. Every time I read one, I recommend it to my friends. My favorite until now had been Six Ways to Keep the Little in Your Girl, but I think her new one may top it. The 20 Hardest Questions Every Mom Faces addresses the practical questions over which we agonize as moms, helping us see biblical principles involved, and leading us to the throne of grace for help, instead of handing us more methods and techniques.
By practical questions, I mean questions like: “How many kids should I have?” “Should I work or stay home?” “Is my child ready to make a decision to follow Christ?” “What’s for dinner?” “Should my child have a cell phone?” “To vaccinate or not to vaccinate?” These and many more are addressed candidly and helpfully.
One thing I loved about this book is that Dannah was honest about her own convictions without making them the standard for everyone else. These are questions with which we wrestle as moms, and many of them are controversial, forcing us to really think through why we’ve arrived at our conclusions. As a result, we tend to get passionate about our stance. I was nervous as I approached certain chapters, not sure if she would take the same road I have or how beat up I would feel if she didn’t. And you know what? I didn’t fully agree with all of her conclusions, but I never felt beat up! And that’s the beauty of this book.
Her main challenge to the moms reading this book and struggling over these questions is to take them to the Lord. Pour out your concerns to Him. Tell Him what you’re worried about or scared will happen. Plead for wisdom. And then give your kids to Him, and wait on His answer or rescue. Every chapter ends with this progression, and includes prompts and Scripture to guide you as you pray. I so appreciate the way she said, “Here’s what my family does. I don’t know if it’s what you should do or not, but here’s what I do know you should do: run to Jesus.”
The times in which we parent are not getting any easier. I have already had to have conversations with my kids that my parents probably never dreamed of having with me, and I am just getting started in many ways. Not to mention that moms for some reason feel the need to compete with each other and judge each other like never before, and that only adds to the pressure to get everything right. The questions in this book are ones that some parents never think through, never wrestle to a conviction, and therefore never really address in their families, leaving their kids clueless and vulnerable and prey to the messages of the world instead of the messages of God’s truth. Don’t take that risk. This book will help you think about why you parent the way you parent, why you do the things you do, and how you can be intentional in setting family habits and patterns that honor the Lord and give your kids a strong and sure foundation as they begin to navigate life on their own.
If you still have kids in the home or know someone who does, this book will be a gift that will help long after the first reading. I strongly recommend it, along with the rest of the resources at Secret Keeper Girl and Pure Freedom.