I chose to review Parenting the Wholehearted Child: Captivating Your Child’s Heart with God’s Extravagant Grace by Jeannie Cunnion mostly because I am a parenting book junkie. It’s a combination of enjoying reading about my favorite topic, and a philosophy that I can always take all the help that I can get on this crazy vital topic.
To be completely fair, I have gotten to the point in my parenting literature journey that I feel, “If you’ve read one of these books, you’ve read them all.” But it’s always fun to learn new perspectives, new opinions and hear reiterated in a new voice some age old advice.
However, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that this book is something new, fresh, and unique in the world of parenting books. But more on that in my review below!
About the Book
Book description from Amazon.com:
Your kids aren’t perfect. And you don’t have to be either.
Are you exhausted from the pressure to be a perfect parent raising perfect children in this imperfect world? Do you ever wonder, ‘How did these precious children get stuck with a parent like me?’ If so, let these grace-drenched pages saturate your heart with God’s unfailing love while also equipping you to be a vessel of God’s unconditional love to your children.
With authenticity, conviction, and a lively sense of humor, Jeannie guides you on a transformative journey into raising wholehearted—not perfect—children, who live from the freedom found in being wholeheartedly loved (and liked!) by God.
Parenting the Wholehearted Child equips you with biblical wisdom and practical ideas to teach your children that they are fully accepted by God, not because of anything they do or don’t do but because of everything Jesus has already done for them.
Woven throughout the book is the good news that it is God’s extravagant grace—not your perfect performance—that transforms the hearts of children.
My Thoughts on the Book
The only things I don’t agree with Cunnion on, are her views on modeling generosity to our children through giving to panhandlers on the side of the road and her complete disregard of homeschooling.
First, the panhandlers: Instead of handing over a $5 bill and feeling warm and fuzzy because it’s “the giving that counts”, if our true intent is to HELP a human being and CHANGE a human life (the definition of selfless generosity), then you give what they need, not what makes you feel like a hero.
True generosity would be to stop and give information to the nearest homeless shelter, soup kitchen, church outreach, and other resources and offer prayer. Make sure they know where they can get a warm meal, clean clothes, a place to sleep, addiction counseling and job searching skills. Otherwise, you’re just feeding their addiction, keeping them locked in a beg / buy / beg / buy cycle or worse, empowering the dishonest ones to continue their scam. And let’s not forget that in most communities panhandling is illegal. Do we want to encourage this illegal behavior and support the endless cycle of begging, just so our kids think we’re generous, or do we want to practice REAL generosity and focus on the root of the problem – the addictions, the hunger, the loneliness, the need for Jesus, etc.?
Lizz Rodriguez, a concerned mother of a panhandler, put it best in a letter to the editor of the Bakersfield Californian paper last Christmas:
“Please not to give to panhandlers. Bakersfield people are so generous and kindhearted and, with this being the Christmas season, I am sure generosity will be at its height. I am sure that they are thinking that giving is the right thing to do. Not this time.
This is a personal plea from the mother of one of those young people panhandling at Walmart or Target, or on the street corner. My son has a warm bed and a warm dinner waiting for him at home. He has cable in his room and new clothes hanging in his closet. He is welcome to come home any time as long as he is not under the influence of drugs. But the drugs mean more to him than the warm meal and comfortable bed. Drugs mean more to him than an evening with his family laughing and watching television. He lives for his next fix. He gets the money by panhandling.
I often hear people say, “What they do with the money is their business. At least I gave.” Really? Would you pull out that dollar bill and hand it to your son or daughter to buy their next fix of heroin or meth? All I am asking is that people not give it to mine. He has food, clothing and a place to live, but with your money he is buying heroin, and surely one day he will buy his last fix with your generous and kind-hearted gift.”
Aside from the issue of handing out dollars like candy to drug addicts and scam artists, the only other issue I find myself having with the book is the lack of reference to homeschooling. The constant references to dropping the kids off at school and relegating their educational upbringing to strangers just bugged me. No, I don’t think you’re a terrible mom if you don’t homeschool. However, homeschooling is one powerful and effective way to ensure that the education and atmosphere your child is raised in is one that fosters a love of Christ, and a whole heart (aka, a wholehearted child).
Having been both homeschooled and public schooled myself, I can tell you that the atmosphere in the public school realm is nothing short of hostile to conservative, Christian values and the anti-Christian climate just clouds the minds of impressionable children.. and this was well over a decade ago! If you are raising a wholehearted, Christ loving kid, they WILL be under some mega Spiritual attack. Satan hates young Christ followers and wants nothing more than to pick them off one by one. So throwing your kids into a cesspool of anti-Christian, relativistic, “let’s-give-every-kid-a-condom-and-banana-by-the-fourth-grade” authority figures is nothing short of irresponsible.
It’s one thing is you CAN’T homeschool due to work or other obligations. It keeping your family afloat means public school for the kids, that’s fine. Give your situation to God and do the best that you can do. But if homeschooling is an option – at all – then it should be listed and outlined as a tool in the “raising the wholehearted child” arsenal.
Other than that, this book is golden. It’s rare for me to find a book that I agree with so much, actually.
With simple and effective methods of sharing the love of Christ with our kids, this book is all about offering and extending grace, unconditional love, and respect to our children, regardless of age.
It’s the Christian version of the Peaceful Parenting movement, only fully grounded in Scriptures. Before reading this book I genuinely believed I was one of the only ones who held this parenting philosophy! When I chat on Facebook groups and pages with fellow Peaceful Parenting moms, I am surrounded by (for lack of a better word) hippy moms that base their parenting morals on nothing more than a “Golden Rule” or “Warm and Fuzzies” mentality. Which is a lot better than no parenting morals, but it lacks grounding in the Word of God.
I think hippy moms are some of the best moms out there, but when they crash and burn – which they inevitably will – it does not surprise me. In my experience, if you try to do things through your own power for too long, you will ultimately fail. However, you can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens you. I think Parenting the Wholehearted Child is the premiere Christian Peaceful Parenting book on the market.
[Disclaimer: There are no affiliate links in this review. I am an independent product reviewer. I only review products I am truly interested in. I don’t accept payment for reviews. The products I take the time to jabber on about are either items I have personally purchased, or the product has been provided for review after me incessantly nagging for a sample. All of my reviews are unbiased regardless of how the item was obtained.]
I would HIGHLY recommend this book to parents. It’s one I plan to have on hand in my parenting shelf for years to come!
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