Last year, our small group read “Sacred Marriage: What if Marriage is Designed to Make You Holy Instead of Happy” by Gary Thomas. It was good. It wasn’t as good as some marriage books I’ve read, but it was good. So then we decided to follow it up with “Sacred Parenting: How Raising Children Shapes our Souls.”
Well… initially I thought it wasn’t as good as “Sacred Marriage.” In fact, no one did. We decided to quit reading it; it seemed better suited to parents with older children (most of the kiddos in our group are under five). However, I picked it up last week and finished it off. I’m glad I did.
Now, I will say that if you are an adoptive parent, Mr. Thomas isn’t very pro-adoptive parenting. I mean, I don’t think he’s anti-adoption, but he’s fairly insensitive when it comes to that area. In fact, in chapter one, he asks, “If you’re an adoptive parent, what makes you willing to take on such an unbelievably high commitment for someone who used to be someone else’s child?” (page 19).
I did throw the book at that point. But I decided to continue. Again, this wasn’t an easy read, but I’m glad I read it. There is a fair amount of birth talk. He spends a great deal of time talking about how a woman’s body changes when she is pregnant and/or nursing. He spends a great deal of time talking about how a husband should then view his wife’s body because of this. He spends a great deal of time talking about giving birth changes a woman (not parenthood, mind you – childbirth) and even a man. Those things have to be read, from an adoptive parent’s point-of-view, with a grain of salt.
However, I did appreciate a number of things in this book. First, I appreciated his chapters on significance. This is something I have been struggling with lately: am I significant, and if so, to whom and why. When a woman becomes a mother, her entire identity changes. He addresses that, with the help of some very wise women, and I liked it. I won’t tell you what he said, either! I think some things are better read on your own.
I also appreciate his personal examples. He spends a great deal of time talking about how his son mimics him, even down to taking off his shoes at the bottom of the stairs in the entryway and placing them at the exact same angle. The more I am aware of Little Man watching me, the more aware I am of the major sins and faults in my life that I certainly don’t want him to repeat!
Mr. Thomas also covers a multitude of issues that, again, are better suited for parents of older children. He talks about leading them to the Lord, what happens when and if they stray, what happens if your child rejects God and rebels. He talks about the sacrifices parenting requires – especially those that no other book author has been brave enough to mention, in my opinion. He talks about how children can make you so incredibly angry and happy and loving all within the same day. He talks about the need to redefine “sexy” so that it includes mothers/wives and not 14 year old pop sensations.
What he does not talk about is how to raise your child. This is not a “how-to” parenting book. It is all about how you can open yourself up better to receive the leadings and teachings of the Holy Spirit while parenting your children. It is all about how you can learn so much more about God and Jesus while parenting, if you just make the choice to do that.
I would recommend this book, with the caveat about the adoptive parent stuff mentioned above!
Sacred Parenting: How Raising Children Shapes Our Souls
by Gary Thomas
Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004
Apparently I need to say this, according to recent FTC blog rulings: no one paid me for this review. I did not receive anything to review this book. I am simply doing this because I like to hear what other people think of books before I read them!