Parenting by The Book: Biblical Wisdom for Raising Your Child

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9781416544845: Parenting by The Book: Biblical Wisdom for Raising Your Child

Picture respectful, responsible, obedient children who entertain themselves without television or video games, do their own homework, and have impeccable manners. A pie-in-the-sky fantasy? Not so, says family psychologist and bestselling author John Rosemond. Any parent who so desires can grow children who fit that description -- happy, emotionally healthy children who honor their parents and their families with good behavior and do their best in school.

In the 1960s, American parents stopped listening to their elders when it came to child rearing and began listening instead to professional experts. Since then, raising children has become fraught with anxiety, stress, and frustration. The solution, says John, lies in raising children according to biblical principles, the same principles that guided parents successfully for hundreds of years. They worked then, and they still work now!

Through his nationally syndicated newspaper column and eleven books, John has been helping families raise happy, well-behaved children for more than thirty years. In Parenting by The Book, which John describes as both a "mission and a ministry," he brings parents back to the uncomplicated basics. Herein fi nd practical, Bible-based advice that will help you be the parent you want to be, with children who will be, as the Bible promises, "a delight to your soul" (Pro. 29-17). As a bonus, John also promises to make you laugh along the way.

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About the Author:

John Rosemond is a family psychologist who has directed mental-health programs and been in full-time private practice working with families and children. Since 1990, he has devoted his time to speaking and writing. Rosemond’s weekly syndicated parenting column now appears in some 250 newspapers, and he has written 15 best-selling books on parenting and the family. He is one of the busiest and most popular speakers in the field, giving more than 200 talks a year to parent and professional groups nationwide. He and his wife of 39 years, Willie, have two grown children and six well-behaved grandchildren. 

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter One

The Walls Come

Crumblin' Down

Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust.

-- Psalm 40:4

Our journey begins in 2002, in Lafayette, Louisiana. I'm in the lobby of an auditorium in which I'm about to speak, chatting with several parents. One of the women suddenly says, "I'm absolutely convinced, John, that my husband and I have experienced more problems in four years with two children than my parents had with all ten of us the entire time."

That mother's statement reflects the difficulties inherent in today's child- rearing philosophy and practice. Further, it echoes not just the experience of one set of parents in Lafayette, but the experience of many if not most parents in the United States. Whether you grew up in a large or small family, you are almost certainly experiencing more child- rearing difficulties than did your parents -- a lot more. When compared to your grandparents' child-rearing experience, there is no doubt about it. Your grandparents had problems with their children -- all parents do -- but compared to the problems you are having, their parenting experience was a cakewalk.

Men and women who accomplished most of their child rearing before 1960 -- people who are now in their seventies, eighties, and nineties -- tell me that whereas they dealt with the occasional problem, the raising of children per se was not especially difficult. As one ninety-year-old woman who raised five children during the forties and fifties once told me, "It was just something you did." She was by no means diminishing the responsibility. She made it clear that raising children was the most important job anyone ever undertook. She was simply putting it in its proper perspective: Raising children was but one of many responsibilities she had assumed as an adult, and she had been determined to execute each and every one of them to the best of her ability. These included responsibilities as a daughter, sister, friend, wife, employee (she had worked as a secretary for a number of years), member of various women's clubs and civic organizations, and member of her church. Because she did not overidentify with the role of mother, she was not overfocused on her kids. Therefore, raising children did not consume, exasperate, and exhaust her. She was able to discharge her responsibilities to her children, including their discipline, in a calm, collected, confident fashion. That hardly describes the day-to-day experience of today's oft-consumed, oft-exasperated, and oft-exhausted parents, and mothers especially.

The times, they are a-changin'

"But, John!" someone might exclaim. "Times have changed!"

That clich - really explains nothing. "Times" have always changed, but until recently, the raising of children did not change from generation to generation. As technology, demographics, and economic conditions changed, the general approach to child rearing remained pretty much the same. My grandparents, for example, were born in the 1890s. During the first thirty years of their lives, they witnessed and experienced more change -- in every conceivable fashion -- than has occurred in the last thirty years (since 1977). Yet child rearing did not change during that time. My parents were born around 1920. Consider the dramatic changes that took place during the first thirty years of their lives, from 1920 to 1950: a worldwide depression that lasted more than a decade, a global war that lasted for five years, the development and use of nuclear weapons, the start of the Cold War and the national insecurity that resulted, the invention of television, and the ubiquity of the automobile. These events transformed not only America, but the world. No one born after 1950 has experienced such profound cultural transformation. Yet from 1920 to 1950, child rearing in America did not change in any appreciable way. My grandparents raised my parents in accord with the same child-rearing principles that had guided my great-grandparents, and they employed pretty much the same methods. My point: The mere fact that "times" change neither means nor requires change in every single thing.

Once upon a time, people understood that in changing times, certain things should not change; that there must always be certain constants in culture. A short list of those changeless things includes consensus concerning morality, the need for adults to be contributing members of society, and constants regarding how the family should function, including how children should be brought up. Once upon a time, people understood that change would deteriorate into chaos unless change was organized around unchanging "still points" in the culture, and child rearing was one of those points. In fact, there is no evidence that in the Judeo- Christian world the fundamental principles governing child rearing had appreciably changed since its founding by Abraham and Sarah. For thousands of years, the child- rearing "baton" was handed down, intact, from generation to generation. Children honored their parents by growing up and raising their children the same way their parents had raised them, and let there be no doubt: the "way" in question was based on biblical principles.

Progress constantly infuses culture with new energy, but in the fifth commandment God promises a stable, secure society to people who adhere to fundamental family traditions. But that understanding went by the boards in the 1960s, the single most deconstructive decade in the history of the United States of America.

Something New under the Sun

During the 1960s, the United States underwent a culture-wide paradigm shift that had profound eff ect on all of our institutions, including the family. Before the sixties, we were a culture informed by and defined by tradition. Progress took place in nearly every generation, but most people continued to embrace traditional values and live their lives according to traditional form. When young people reached adulthood, developed occupations, married, and had children, they adopted their parents' values and consciously sought to emulate their parents' examples. (Exceptions to any general rule can always be found, but this was certainly a general rule.) There had been a minor challenge to this constancy after World War I, but it came completely undone in the 1960s. America entered the 1960s one culture and emerged from that tumultuous decade a different culture altogether, in every respect. By 1970, we were no longer a culture informed and defined by tradition, but a culture informed and defined by a relatively new electronic medium -- television -- a medium that had decided to promote a radical, progressive agenda.

During television's infancy in the 1950s, television programs, without exception, reflected traditional American values. Perhaps you're old enough to remember (or perhaps you've seen the reruns) I Love Lucy, The Donna Reed Show, Father Knows Best, Leave It to Beaver, Lassie, Walt Disney Presents, and variety shows like The Ed Sullivan Show.

In the 1960s, however, the now-adolescent television industry began to take on a rebellious, activist character. Its movers and shakers became determined to use the influence of television to reshape America consistent with the vision of the emerging neoliberal, secular elite. And they succeeded.

By 1970, the consensus that had previously existed concerning values, right versus wrong, and morality had begun to unravel. All of the "still points" that had previously stabilized America had been undermined and were beginning to topple.

By the mid-1970s, the United States had become a full-fledged "progressive" culture. Progressivism holds that just as most new technologies (such as computers) are better than old technologies (typewriters), new ideas are better than old ideas. For the most part, the progressive mind-set rejects tradition. It refuses to recognize that there is, in truth, "nothing new under the sun," as a wise man wrote thousands of years ago: "What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun" (Ecclesiastes 1:9).

Many in my generation -- the Baby Boomers -- became seduced by the new utopian progressivism. We (as a much younger man, I identified with this movement) deluded ourselves into thinking that we had been anointed by some secular divinity to usher out everything old and ring in a Brave New World. We decided that traditional values and forms had to go -- that our parents' values were most definitely not going to be our values, and their ways of doing things were most definitely not going to be our ways. One of the old ways in question was traditional child rearing.

Grandma's Homespun Wisdom

Before the 1960s, when parents had problems with their children, they did not seek advice from people with capital letters after their names. Rather, they sought the counsel of elders in their extended families, churches, and communities. "Grandma" -- the generic term I use to refer to the elders in question -- was the universally recognized child-rearing expert. Grandma gave child-rearing advice based on the life she had led. Furthermore, the advice she gave concerning any given parenting problem was the same advice her mother would have given her under similar circumstances, and the same advice her grandmother would have given her mother, and so on down the generations.

After the 1960s, parents were no longer going to Grandma for child-rearing advice. Instead, they were seeking counsel from people in the mental health professions -- people who dispensed advice based not on lives they had led, but rather on books they had read.

Understanding what Grandma was talking about did not require a college degree. She did not say things like, "In talking with you, I get the distinct impression that you are still trying to resolve childhood issues of your own, and I think we should give some time to exploring those issues and discovering how they relate to the problems you are ...

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