Monday, November 26, 2007

Raising Children Without Going Insane


Children can be a challenge. No, children are a challenge! Jane Evans, co-pastor with her husband of Paradise Community Church in Adelaide, South Australia, and mother of three boys, realizes this. In “Raising Children Without Going Insane”, she offers an insightful, humorous look at this job called being a mother. Evans comments that mothers often feel “that life has them hurtling along on a rollercoaster.” She reassures mothers that they have “a mandate from God and that you are equipped with everything you need to succeed . . . Besides, God is counting on you to love your kids, because there will be plenty of times when no one else will!”

Evans begins by describing the different personalities of her three children, Mark, Nathan, and Benjamin, aged nineteen, seventeen, and four. Mark is very strong-willed eager to fight every boundary, prone to food allergies and abrupt changes in behavior. Nathan is a worrier, and Benjamin has a strong sense of humor and a magnetic personality. Every child we receive from God is unique with his or her own strengths and weaknesses. “There is something special about your children and God wants you to help them find out what it is.” Evans writes, “I'm constantly seeking to get to know [my children] better. I need to know their strengths so that I can encourage them and sharpen them. I also need to understand their weaknesses so I can build strength into each weakness and train the boys to overcome them.” She tells of presenting each child with a “challenge goal” for every year – something special that particular child needed to work on. Sometimes the same goal would be carried over from year to year.

Evans offers much encouragement and practical advice for mothers as they navigate the daily demands of parenthood. She also reminds mothers that God is always there to help us in our duty:

"When your child was born, God gave you the heavenly mandate to develop that child into all that He has destined your child to be. And yet He didn't leave you to do it alone without any direction or guidance. He promised that He would never leave you or forsake you. . . There are many times as a mother when i haven't known what to do and have felt at a loss as to where to go from here. Every time I have called out I have received an answer. It may not have been the answer I was wishing or hoping for, but it always turned out to be the best one I could hear."

Mothers need to have confidence in their parenting abilities. “As a mother, you need confidence based not in your own abilities, but in the knowledge that God searched the entire planet for the best mother for your child and chose you!” Evans also encourages mothers to stand firm against the world. Even when everyone else may be allowing her child to do something, if you feel it is not right, don't let them. Mothers need to keep their eyes on the end product. What kind of an adult do you want your child to be? Evans places a strong emphasis on training your children and on providing a good example.

Much of what Evans writes about in “Raising Children Without Going Insane” is common-sense, but we can always use a good reminder. Her emphasis on faith and on relying on God is inspiring and encouraging. The way she offers practical examples of how she has parented in her own life is very helpful. I have already started to implement some of her suggestions in my own family! “Raising Children Without Going Insane” is recommended reading for anyone trying to parent with God at the center.

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