Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Book Review: Raising Children on Purpose

Raising Children on Purpose: Helping Your Children Find Their God-Given Calling
by Wesley H. Fleming
New Kensington:PA: Whitaker House, 2006

“The Bible says that before our children were born, God put within each of them a special plan for their lives – 'a way they should go.' The purpose our children are looking for lies within them! The Bible also says that we, as parents, have the distinct privilege of helping them find this calling and live it out. (see Proverbs 22:6)” In “Raising Children on Purpose: Helping Your Children Find Their God-Given Calling,” Wesley H. Fleming offers parents sound advice on parenting for God's purposes.

God puts a lot of trust in parents. He hands us His children to take care of here on Earth. It is an awesome task and a huge responsibility. Add in all the outside influences that try to corrupt our children and the prospect can be positively daunting! Yet, as St. Augustine pointed out, “all of us have a natural appetite for God that provokes us to seek after him.” This includes our children. Our children want to know and love God. The child who knows and loves God will do God's will. It is our task to model and show them the way.

Children learn about God from their relationship with us. As Fleming states, “We are the first Bible our children will read.” If a child learns that he can trust his parents, he will learn that he can trust in God. If a child feels safe with her parents, she will feel safe with God. By meeting our children's emotional needs (at least the majority of the time), we set the groundwork for their relationship with God.

Fleming lists a child's seven emotional needs by using the acrostic PARENTS: Protection, Acceptance, Recognition, Enforced Limits, Nearness, Time, and Support. He then goes into detail about how to meet each of these needs. His parenting advice is very balanced – neither too restricting for children, nor too overprotective. His parenting style could be described as being very respectful of both parent and child. He recommends giving children choices but also maintaining limits. He advocates spending as much time as you can with your children and engaging in regular physical affection. He knows that as parents we sometimes fail in our roles and acknowledges that there is no such thing as the perfect family. While we can always work for improvement, we also need to accept our own failings and ask for forgiveness, both from God and our children.

Fleming also emphasizes the importance of prayer in our parenting. We can't do it alone. God is there to help us and guide us and give us strength in this most important undertaking. Fleming also suggests praying for our child's future spouse that he or she may be brought up well also.

A very helpful part of the book are the appendices. There is a handy guide for helping to find your child's God-given calling (if you are still searching for your own, it could help with that as well). There are sections on discipline and setting rules. There is also a section on breaking the cycle if your own family of origin was dysfunctional.

“Raising Children on Purpose” is an excellent book. Parents will find so much good information in it. Many parenting books offer general guidelines. This book is very specific. You will find tools that you can use in your own parenting and that will help you raise your children to fulfill the roles for which God created them.


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