I feel like I am at an odd time with parenting. I have an almost 14 year old, a 12 year old, 9 year old, and 7 year old. The baby and preschool years are over. People said it would happen and it would happen fast… and they were right. One day, I had little tiny people and was in the thick of diapers and potty training and nursing and Sesame Street… and then I blinked and there is a teenager in my house.
I feel like most parenting books are geared for parenting the little years and I walk away from them feeling like I’ve missed the boat with a lot of ideas that would have been helpful when I was in the trenches.
I discovered Dr. Kathy Koch when I attended the NC Thrive Conference last Spring. She is an authority on children. One thing I LOVE is that her books and her talks are not just geared for moms of littles. They are geared for parents of all ages. One of my favorite books she has written is Screens and Teens. Y’all… it is current and real and challenging and you should get it… even if your kids aren’t teens yet. It is pure gold!
After reading Screens and Teens, I was hooked. I have picked up a few more of Dr. Kathy’s books. When the opportunity presented itself to be part of her book launch team for her latest book Start with the Heart, How to Motivate Your Kids to Be Compassionate, Responsible, and Brave (Even When You’re Not Around!), I jumped on it.
To be honest, I am not a fan of “How To” books or people who think they have it all figured out and are trying to tell me what to do. I’d like to think I know what I am doing and could be the one writing the book… haha. But, in moments of grace and mercy, God gently reminds me that I do not, in fact, have it all together and that I do, in fact, need to glean from the wisdom of others.
I was so pleased to open this most recent book from Dr. Kathy. The message is so needed. Teaching compassion. Recognizing core truths that exist for all of us. A call to study our children and know their hearts. It confirmed much that my husband and I have fought for in our parenting and challenged me to take it to the next level. This book is not geared simply for moms of littles. It has strategies and truth for parenting all ages.
I have often felt like parenting teens is an uphill battle and I am stuck at the bottom of the hill while my teen and almost teen zoom ahead… did I prepare them for the climb? Have I modeled character enough? Are they ready to face the traps and snares that undoubtedly await them on the trail. Start with the Heart gives me hope that I am not behind and I still can impart wisdom and be an active voice in their lives.
I always thought I was going to have all boys. I was just sure of it. Our first child is a boy and came as no surprise to me. However, when the ultrasound on number 2 showed a girl, I refused to believe it. I was terrified to be a mom to a girl. I just knew I was going to screw her up. Ultrasound after ultrasound confirmed our little girl. I remember the midwife handing her to me and saying, “It’s a girl… girls are hard.” Ug… come on lady! Ok. One girl. I can handle one girl. Then number 3 and number 4 came along… both girls. I had to stop living in denial and embrace the children God entrusted us with. It was a shift in thinking for me. I think back on our family often and cannot imagine life without these three girls who have challenged me and stretched me more than I can explain.
I especially like chapter 6 in the book where she talks about being a coach. I have heard parenting described in phases before. When they are little, you are the coach, when they are tween-ish, you are the counselor, and when they are teens, you are the cheerleader. In Start with the Heart, she encourages parents to think of themselves as a teacher, a coach, a cheerleader, or a referee. All four roles are necessary and intertwined and not limited to one age or stage. It takes discernment and knowing your child’s heart to know when to put on a certain role.
Start with the Heart is filled with practical information. The suggestions are so simple yet so tranformative. For example, changing your wording from a negative (“don’t run”) to a positive (“use walking feet”). Each chapter ends with three headings: What About You? Things to Do. and Things to Think About. These are thoughtful moments in the book that help the reader to reflect and make a plan. The book is filled with fantastic family activities designed to get to your child’s heart… helping both you and your child know and understand their value and purpose. The back of the book has several appendices filled with practical parenting information.
So many parenting books (both secular and Christian) focus on cognitive behavior. They give tips and tricks to curb behavior without getting to the heart of it all. Our children are precious and if we want them to trust us and be our friends when they are adults, we must parent in the long game. Cognitive tricks help parent the short term. I believe Dr. Kathy’s newest book equips us to care for the souls of our children, focusing on the heart and not just the behavior.
What are your go to books for encouragement in parenting? Favorite authors? Comment below and share the wealth!
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