I have read many parenting books: One Million Arrows, Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining and Bad Attitudes in You and Your Kids, Sacred Parenting, The Strong-Willed Child, Shepherding a Child's Heart, Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours, and even a few chapters of Train Up a Child (which I don't recommend).
Most of these books were helpful in some way or another. I was able to glean some parenting tips and tools, and most of them did not make me extremely uncomfortable because of rigid ideas encouraged. Parenting is an important but extremely challenging job, and we all need some help. But the book I read recently was a breath of fresh air that I needed, and I'm thankful to Sara at My Ears are Tired for bringing it to my attention.
"Parenting Is Your Highest Calling" And 8 Other Myths That Trap Us in Worry and Guilt by Leslie Leyland Fields was a source of encouragement for me.
The author explores eight myths that many Christians have fallen for:
Myth 1: Having children brings happiness and fulfillment.
Myth 2: Nurturing your children is natural and instinctive.
Myth 3: Parenting is your highest calling.
Myth 4: Good parenting leads to happy children.
Myth 5: If you find parenting difficult, you must not be following the right plan.
Myth 6: You represent Jesus to your children.
Myth 7: You will always feel unconditional love for your children.
Myth 8: Successful parents produce godly children.
Myth 9: God approves of only one family design.
Fields reminded me of what my true calling is: To love God. Parenting is an opportunity to share Jesus with our children and to point them to their callings as well. I think I have been carrying a yoke too heavy of my own making and forgetting that God is capable of covering and using even my mistakes to shape my children.
This certainly doesn't absolve parents of responsibility. Instead, it frees us to follow God's plan for our families and to tune out the voices of our culture or well-meaning friends when we consider the size of our families, the way we educate, the way we discipline, the way we serve at church. Yes, we need to model Jesus to our children, but more importantly, we need to point our children to our need for Jesus. And the important question we should each be asking ourselves is, "Am I parenting faithfully?"
Pick up this quick, easy read and be encouraged. God is in this parenting thing with you . . . or rather, you are in it with Him.