A mighty bug hunter.
Wendy is a wonderful, beautiful, confusing, confounding, strong, opinionated little girl, and she our daughter. That means it's our job - our blessing- to teach her and guide her in the way she should go. To train her spirit, prune her behaviors, and shape her attitude into what it should be. Some days, the task seems insurmountable; parenting is a tough job, especially when you have a spirited child.
I've been doing some reading lately, and two books have stood out as being remarkably helpful as we try to grow in wisdom and effectiveness as parents.
Shepherding a Child's Heart, by Tedd Tripp, is a remarkable book. Instead of focusing on turning a child's behavior from wrong to right, Dr. Tripp advocates addressing the real problem - the heart of the child. From the introduction:
"The central focus of parenting is the gospel. You need to direct not simply the behavior of your children, but the attitudes of their hearts. You need to show them not just the “what” of their sin and failure, but the “why.” Your children desperately need to understand not only the external “what” they did wrong, but also the internal “why” they did it. You must help them see that God works from the inside out. Therefore, your parenting goal cannot simply by well-behaved children. Your children must also understand why they sin and how to recognize internal change."I strongly believe that all parents should read this book. Even parents with children who are always patient, always kind, never talk back, never throw tantrums, always think of others first, always do tasks immediately, always answer respectfully...wait, do you know any children like that? Me, neither. The point remains - all parents should read this book!
The second book is one for parents and little girls to read together and discuss. A Little Girl After God's Own Heart: Learning God's Ways In My Early Days, by Elizabeth George, is a delightful book for girls in the 4-8 age range. It focuses on the fruit of the spirit, giving specific examples of how those wonderful attributes come into play in everyday life. (I hadn't heard of this book until earlier this week when I read about it on someone's blog, but I can't remember who - if it was you, let me know & I'll give you credit!) We started reading this book today, and I was surprised with how well Wendy received it. And the lessons on patience? self-control? gentleness? EXACTLY what we need right now!
There is a book for boys, too: A Little Boy After God's Own Heart, by Jim & Elizabeth George. We'll be buying that one in the next year or so for our David.
I wish I could give copies of both books to everyone I know. I can't recommend them highly enough. They've really made a difference in how I think about parenting!