Parenting INC

Michelle Underwood

As a parent of a toddler and a newborn, I read a lot of parenting books. Someone once advised me that I should only read one a year, otherwise I'm liable to get too confused. I definitely agree. There are way too many parenting books out there with far too much conflicting advice.

But I will make the bold statement that if you are going to read just one parenting book this year, then read this one. Parenting Inc is not a quick fix or "how to' or "top ten techniques' for when you're having a crisis over your child's discipline or sleeping or eating habits (in that way I think the title of the book "a comprehensive guide to parenting' is a little misleading) " instead, it's a book that's about the big picture of parenting; about values; about being thoughtful and proactive when it comes to raising children. I found it thoroughly inspiring; it reminded me of why having children is a blessing (even if they don't sleep or eat or behave how I'd want them to). I've discovered that parents need that kind of inspiration and encouragement to lift our eyes from the drudgery and difficulties of the day to day.

Terri Hardwick writes with all the authority and expertise of someone who has had six children herself and has worked in early childhood education. She writes like a parent and a friend" not like a doctor or a child pyschologist " with lovely anecdotes from her own experiences. Her love of the job of parenting is obvious and infectious.

Her basic thesis is to remind parents that there is nothing more important or significant than the job they have of raising children. She has chapters such as "Be a Parent with Vision' which encourages parents to think about what kind of adult you want your child to be, and then shows how this will impact on how you parent now. There are good chapters on setting priorities, investing your time wisely, and "choosing life over lifestyle', all encouraging you to question what values you live by, and more importantly, whether your life reflects the values you say you have and how this influences you children. It's not sentimental or abstract; it shows how the big picture you have for life changes what you do every day.

What's different about this book? She's Australian, which is a refreshing change from the myriad American and English parenting books on the market. It's easy to read (a must for busy parents) " chapters are short and at the end of each chapter there are suggestions for reflection on how you parent and a small step you could implement to change the way you parent today. She's a Christian, and biblical values pervade the book, but it is not a "Christian parenting book' and it is not full of irritating "if you don't parent this way you are disobeying God' stuff. It's written for a secular audience. I think it's testimony to the fact that God's way is still the best way to live, even if you don't know God.

I think, if you are finding parenting difficult (and who doesn't), or are lost in a whirlpool of dirty nappies and temper tantrums, get a hold of Parenting Inc to give you a bigger perspective " God's perspective " on what you are doing. It would not be too much to say that I found it deeply refreshing and liberating.