When you become parents, you secretly (or openly) wish that there was some sort of operation manual on your child.
Unfortunately there is no such thing because children are people with needs and feelings that change. Every minute.
But if I were to recommend a parenting manual of sorts, this book would be it!
Mark and Jan Foreman are parents to Jon and Tim of Switchfoot. This book documents their parenting journey and things they learned along the way.
One of the sentiments they learned is to “Never Say No.”
Now if you are like me, when you first read this title, you probably scoffed and thought, “There is no way you can parent without saying no.” If you didn’t take it literally, then you are a better/more evolved person than I am.
The phrase is meant to be a slogan for parenting instead of a hard fast rule. Obviously no will need to be said at some point, because you know safety is important. Otherwise, George would have eaten his poopy diaper this morning…
One thing I have definitely learned in my very short time being a parent, is that no two journeys of raising children are the same. There are different factors that influence decisions-mainly being that each child does their own thing. Even under the same roof, two parents in the same family may not make the same decisions.
It’s because we are human beings. We react to our surroundings and make decisions based on the information we have been provided at that time.
The idea of “never saying no” though encourages us to really embrace each moment for what it is. It pushes us to be present in each moment and help develop creativity in our kids. I think we can all agree in the fast paced world we live in, it is easy to say, “Hold on a sec.” or “We can play tomorrow.”
But you are not guaranteed that the moment will still be there later. You have a wonderful opportunity to be there for your kids and teach them how to be good people, but we often spend a lot of that time complaining or distracted because we are busy with other things.
I enjoyed this book for a few reasons:
1. I liked the focus on enjoying your kids. I think so often kids are seen as a burden, and I don’t want to ever feel that way or show that to my kids. It was a great reminder to do things that are fun and making the most of the time we have together. I want to make that time count as a parent.
2. It’s not judgmental or preachy. Jan and Mark are very open about their own struggles, and show you that you won’t always be the best. They explain over and over again about the importance of love and making the best decision you can. Their transparency and honesty throughout this book shows you a realness to parenting that makes you know that you aren’t alone. They also show that EVERYONE will parent differently, but that the bottom line their should be love. The do emphasize that their way isn’t necessarily the right way, but give you some foundational things to consider. They wouldn’t consider this a manual, but I like it as a guidebook!
3. I felt connected. There were parts that I felt that I could write. I like a book that I can relate to. They talked about triumphs and feelings of inadequacy, so it was just good as a parent to see someone else (who I would presumably see as a parent mentor) has the same feelings.
4. Define success for ourselves and not every other family. (I needed this reminder even this early on as I wonder if he is behind because he is not crawling just yet.)
5. It’s funny. I laughed out loud so much. Like when she explained leaving the hospital for the first time with the baby-“These were tears of joy mixed with holy fear.” Yes…and it made me remember my ridiculous meltdown from the hospital afraid we were going to kill our tiny baby in the carseat.
6. It gave me permission to have a messy house. Sometimes we need those permissions from others not to live a Pinterest worthy life.
7. Each chapter has a question page. I LOVED this piece because it helps you process what you read a little further. They can also be discussion questions to have with your partner. The reality is Tom and I came from two very different backgrounds and parenting styles. Somehow we have to meld our experiences into a family for George. And that can be tricky, especially when you are about as opposite as possible. These “study guides” of sorts really helped us have some conversations and move forward with our family. It’s all about creating a new “map” together.
Coming from a divorced family, I have grown up wondering how I would parent since I was able to witness several different styles. Sometimes it is hard to conceptualize how exactly I want to parent because of my past. I want to take pieces from all of them, but how do I make that work for me? This book talks about embracing your past and understanding that at the root is the relationship that is built. We have a gift to help guide who our children will become but also letting them choose their own paths along the way. We are instruments of God to help build up our kids, and Jan and Mark talk about it in a beautiful manner.
Just as God enjoys us, we should enjoy our children. I loved that this was a Christ centered book. I want George to grow up knowing and having a relationship with God, and I know that starts with us as his parents. We are the example, and we can encourage that fully through the relationship we build with our kids.
One of my favorite quotes from the book is “If you say no too often, they’ll stop asking.”
I think that sums up the book quite nicely.
I highly recommend this for any couple to read as they start deciding how they want to raise a family and creating their own map or even seasoned parents who need to refocus or just a reminder. It was really great timing for us since we are still really new and parenting really consists just of making sure he is clean and fed at this point. That’s how it is until they are 5 and have homework in Kindergarten right? (I am really in need of a kid manual…)
Most of the time, I feel like I am making this parenting thing up. It is nice to see what other parents are doing like in this book. It makes you stop and think of what things you want to emulate. You will probably still make a lot of things up as you go, but maybe you will be a little more fun with it!
You can purchase this book here! I really only have good things to say about it. It’s all about creating a meaningful relationship with your kid instead of just trying to manage them. Oddly enough the premise is that if you have that creative and meaningful relationship, their growth as good human beings will follow instead of demanding it through our society standards. That sounds more fun too doesn’t it?
I did receive this book complimentary from Litfuse Publicity Group for my review. These thoughts are my own.