In the past, whenever people have asked me for a helpful resource that might give them some guidance as parents, I have suggested a wide variety of books, videos, conferences, web sites, etc.
These are not easy days to parent children.
As a pastor, one concern I hear mentioned repeatedly is anxiety about child-rearing. In the past, whenever people have asked me for a helpful resource that might give them some guidance as parents, I have suggested a wide variety of books, videos, conferences, web sites, etc.
No more. Over the last few months I have confidently suggested a single book as the finest help I have ever encountered in the quest for excellence in parenting.
Connecting With Our Children: Guiding Principles for Parents in a Troubled World, by Roberta Gilbert, is that book. In it, she applies family systems theory to rearing children in a way that is coherent, helpful and challenging.
Gilbert covers the central tenets of systems thinking, and provides an insightful analysis of our society that accurately describes the turbulent times in which we live.
For example, seeing the family, and not the individual, as the primary emotional unit “is an idea that changes the way we see everything human.”
Most importantly, Gilbert devotes one-third of the book to connecting with our children using practical and useful systems thinking and principles. Such an approach enables parents to observe more accurately, think more clearly, and then take more useful and effective action based on principle.
Included in this section is both rigorous academic research and practical/useful suggestions. You will find a summary page with “Ten Ways Parents Can Enhance Relationships with Teenagers” and “Thirty Ways to Reduce Your Anxiety” alongside suggestions for “Growing a Self in One’s Family of Origin.”
While the book is written from a secular therapist is perspective, Gilbert is a Christian and is a Virginia Baptist. She is a practicing family therapist in Falls Church, Virginia, where she and her family attend Columbia Baptist Church. Her book deserves the attention of anyone who values the daunting task of raising children in the 21st century.
Bill Wilson is pastor at First Baptist Church in Waynesboro, Va.