I’ve read quite a few Christian parenting books, all aiming to share a blend of encouragement to seek after grace-drenched parenting styles and practical tips on everything from talking to your children to discipline to sleep tactics. Some of these books create a bit of disconnect between the author who is seen as a “master” here to teach the reader, while other books effectively reach the reader through sharing personal stories.
Never Say No: Raising Big-Picture Kids by Mark and Jan Foreman (David C. Cook, 2015) is definitely one of the latter – an inspiring and intriguing book that welcomes to the reader into a journey of growth in parenting, a journey that doesn’t separate the parent from their child, but rather shows a parent and child can grow up together, hand-in-hand.
Mark and Jan take alternating turns telling stories of their own upbringings and of their two sons, Jon and Tim.
Mark and Jan do not dare label themselves as “parenting experts,” but only two people who have stories and lessons they’ve learned to tell. I found myself agreeing quite a bit with much of their parenting ideals, which fostered trust between me and the authors, while still finding I have much to glean from their journeys.
“We never saw ourselves as parenting authorities; we just knew we’d been given two phenomenal kids to be raised. It was more about not messing up God’s ingenious creations.” – p. 17, Never Say No
Mark and Jan begin by breaking down the process they underwent to look at what parenting should accomplish and the why behind it. Did they want kids who thought the main goal of life is to be happy, do good, have success? As believers, that’s often too limiting in scope. Playing their part in God’s story is bigger. And, as parents, to guide our children to their God-given purposes, we need relationship – with both God and our kids.
“Staying close to our children was critical not only for their survival but also for finding their purpose in life. We believed that as we fed and watered our relationship, we would grow our children’s confidence to find themselves in God’s big story.” – p. 34, Never Say No
This couple addresses reflecting on your own childhood and your current ideals as parents to make new family roadmaps, self-sacrifice as the highest form of love, leading by example, creating space for creativity, truly enjoying our children (and realizing that God enjoys us), discipline while still being open to “yeses” and opportunities, raising children who think, and parenting young adults. Through the book, Mark and Jan share their own mistakes and the joy in seeing their own children become unique individuals.
I’m one of those who usually can’t write in books, but because I was writing down a quote from nearly every single page, I may have to take a highlighter to this book in the next read through. I’m reading this book at a perfect time: the start of our “official” homeschool journey. (Mark and Jan didn’t homeschool their kids, yet intentional parenting is essential in homeschooling, so this book is helping shape my home environment!) My husband and I also plan on reading this together to discuss options together.
“An open environment leaves room for wonder and doesn’t try to fill in the blanks. Wonder is the gift that grows a robust imagination. And imagination is what can change the world.” – p. 110, Never Say No
Added bonus: My husband and I have been emphatic fans of Switchfoot for 12+ years. Switchfoot is in the top three kinds of music requested by our young kids in the car (whether it’s a long trip or a short jaunt to the library). It’s absolutely fun to picture young Jon and Tim in the entertaining and sobering stories Mark and Jan share in this book. Plus, I found several spaces where I read a great though from Mark and Jan and thought, Huh, this sounds rather supportive of a certain Switchfoot lyric.
I fully see myself rereading this book in the future, and I can’t say that for most books. I highly recommend parents taking a look at Never Say No.
How do you truly enjoy your children daily? What do you look for in a parenting book?
Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the Litfuse Publicity Group as a part of their blogger program in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.
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