I want to love my children well. I fully desire to raise them so they will love God and others well, too. I also feel a responsibility to read parenting books in order to learn more about how to parent well. Therefore, I have read a good amount of well written parenting books, but I don’t feel that any of them speak to this goal better than Raising Little Kids with Big Love by Lori Wildenberg and Becky Danielson does.
This book, which reads like the transcript of a parenting seminar–full of suggestions and examples in a free flowing voice–is about how to love our kids and teach our kids to love through the principles found in I Corinthians 13. Each aspect in the “love chapter” of the Bible (patience, kindness, trust, etc.) is given a chapter in this book with practical ways for us to improve and help our children improve in it. Each chapter ends with questions (excellent for a small group), review of the most important parenting tips, a suggested prayer, and a relevant Bible verse. I was especially glad to see the prayers, as we will never parent well or follow any of the suggestions in this book if we don’t go to God for help in each of these areas.
One of my biggest struggles as a mother growing in love is anger, so chapter seven, about choosing peace, was the most helpful for me. I Corinthians 13:5c states, “[love] is not easily angered.” The authors talk about teaching our kids to identify their anger, slow it down, and verbalize the main emotion driving it, using some quick practical methods. I particularly liked (and am now using) their idea of using a rage interrupter, which they say could be a phrase or action. “Rage interrupters replace the anger with a sense of control, calm, or humor” (121). When I feel myself about to lose my temper, I close my eyes and pray silently or aloud, “God, please help me be patient. Help me be kind. Help me to love my kids well.” This very simple idea has been very helpful to me.
The rest of chapter seven is about parents determining hot spots, with a focus on the issues of noise, chaos, disobedience, and temper tantrums. The authors quickly give ideas for how to handle those common times for parental anger and how to prevent the situations in the first place. Next, they write about how we need to be peacemakers and how discipline helps to keep the peace. This chapter finishes with some personal thoughts from each author on the topic of peace and some questions to help the reader think deeper about the subject and decide how to change. They add parenting tips (reminders of the main points in the chapter), a prayer, and the verse, “Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools” (Ecclesiastes 7:9).
To be honest, most of the time when I read parenting books, I end up feeling overwhelmed by all I should be doing as a parent and all the ways I fail to reach perfection. Although the authors specifically say they hope their book won’t make their readers feel this way, Raising Little Kids with Big Love was no exception for me. I even felt more so than usual just because of the scope of the book. Also, because they deal with all the aspects of love from I Corinthians 13, the authors can’t go in depth on any one subject; therefore the suggestions and ideas can be rather shallow.
However, I don’t say this to scare anyone away from reading this book. I say it to speak to those who may think like me and need a warning to approach this book as a sort of manual. Read it through once, listening to all the good advice, but only focus on a few areas where you feel God is leading you to change. Then keep the book on your shelf and use it as a reference guide. When you notice your home is lacking in one of the aspects of I Corinthians love in particular, pull the book out, turn to that chapter, and get some ideas. Most of the ideas in this book are not revolutionary, but some were new to me, and all were good reminders of what we need to practice if we want to love our children well.
Full disclosure: The Blythe Daniel Agency sent me a free copy of Raising Little Kids with Big Love in exchange for my unbiased review, whether positive or negative.