Book Review: Love & Respect in the Family
I am not a parent yet, but when I am, I want to have the best possible tools and resources, and preferably learn some of what I need to know before I need to know it. That said, I am the child of parents, so I’m not totally without a point of reference.
Good parenting isn’t easy. Godly parenting may be even harder–but it doesn’t have to be. In Love & Respect in the Family, Dr. Emerson Eggrichs gives a name to the cycle most (probably all) families experience, where the parents get frustrated, even angry over the lack of respect their children show them, while the children feel like they’re not being understood, heard, or loved.
This “Family Crazy Cycle” is one that we’ve all experienced, but few know can be broken, and fewer still know how to break. Dr. Eggerichs spends most of the book explaining how to turn the Family Crazy Cycle into the Family Energizing Cycle, and Ultimately into the Family Rewarded Cycle, using G.U.I.D.E.S. as a acronym for this process. Beyond this, he spends some chapters delving into the differences between parenting boys and girls (and doing so as a mother or a father, not a generic approach) and parenting as a team.
There are countless parenting books on the physical and virtual shelves, so what makes this one different? I think there are several things. First, he uses stories from many parents and adult children who have written to him, as well as from his own family, both of things that went well and areas where they struggled. He freely admits that he and his wife are not perfect at this, even with 3 grown children. Rather than invalidating his claims and ideas, though, this makes it seem all the more attainable, and takes the pressure off when we fall short.
Next, there is a strong emphasis on parenting “unto Christ” and that changes a lot of the dynamics of the parent-child relationship. He helps readers see the value and importance of moving beyond outcome-based parenting, while keeping in mind that this doesn’t mean being permissive or dismissive. Understanding what we have control over and what we don’t is crucial in this endeavor, and he helps us do just that.
Finally (for now, I could write much more), he repeatedly reminds parents that we don’t have to be perfect or have it all figured out. Parenting is all about doing “what seems best” for our children. Sometimes we’ll be right on that, sometimes we won’t, but in those latter times we have not failed. We come to Jesus, ask for wisdom, apologize to whomever we may need to ask forgiveness from, and start again. Faithfulness and diligence are what matter.
I’ve seen a criticism that Dr. Eggrichs repeats himself a lot, and I agree that there is noticeable repetition, but I believe it is valuable. As one progresses through the book, certain things need to be reinforced, and so they are repeated. This way, one doesn’t come to the end of the book and feel overwhelmed, hopeless, or like they’ve failed. These reminders are not redundant, but reinforcing.
I’m so glad I read this book, and even more glad that I did so now, before becoming a father myself. Having these strategies now means I feel much more prepared, and less fearful about “what if I mess it up”. For that, I am grateful. This is one of the very best parenting books I’ve ever seen, and I highly recommend it.
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this book at no charge, but all opinions are my own.