Parenting is often learning by trial and error. Sometimes, we get it right the first time. Often, we learn months and even years later we should have done some things differently. The learning curve can be huge and the mistakes can have lasting impact on our kids.
I am always looking for great resources to help parents avoid common mistakes parents often make. Usually, it’s not because they want to make mistakes. They simply don’t have any idea what to do and are bluffing their way through their parenting journey.
I was excited to be offered the opportunity to review the latest book by Gary Chapman (and Shannon Warden) the author of the famous 5 Love Languages books. Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Became Parents is a collection of all of the lessons Chapman learned as he parented his children.
Each chapter addresses one “fact” Chapman wishes he had known. Evidently, he had not studied psychology before having his first child, so he made some of the same parenting mistakes we all may have made at some point. As he learned from his mistakes or began to study human growth and development while getting his degree, he understood these important lessons.
With each lesson, Chapman shares personal stories and academic information. He covers topics as simple as time and money to the more complex topics of discipline, marriages and education. I love that he includes questions at the end of each chapter for self-reflection or discussion as a couple or small group. My husband and I found agreeing on parenting topics – before they could arise with our own child – made parenting discussions and arguments almost non-existent. We were already on the same page and knew how we would respond in a variety of situations.
This book contains some excellent advice. I did have a couple of quibbles though with what Chapman wrote. I believe they were because Chapman is now a grandparent, and is not in the daily parenting “business” any more. For example, he mentions counting to get a child to behave. If you read my blog regularly, you know counting is the last thing you should do if you want a child to behave. Counting teaches them they can continue disobeying you as long as they can keep you counting (which often depends on your mood at the time). Having a child currently in college, I had to laugh at his estimate of the cost of college. Our daughter’s university just made some list of best values in the country and we pay several multiples of that number – even with her many academic scholarships.
My other disappointment is the arrangement of the book. I say this only because the information towards the middle of the book is some of the best and rarely heard parenting advice I have ever read. The first couple of chapters are so extremely basic only someone who has never been around children would learn much. I am afraid by beginning with those chapters (as perfectly logical as it is) may cause more experienced parents to stop reading and miss the advice they so desperately need later in the book.
My biggest disappointment is that Chapman, although obviously a Christian, did nothing to emphasize the extreme importance of building a child’s faith and character. To me that is the very cornerstone of excellent parenting. When neglected, many of the other pieces he promotes are so much more difficult. I know he wants high sales, but he could be such an incredible encouragement if he would add the utmost necessity of building a strong faith foundation for your children as the most important chapter.
Personally, I believe this book is worth every penny if only for the information on apologizing. It is so perfect and I don’t know that I have ever seen anyone write about it in this way. I think it should become a must-read in every parenting class. I also thought the chapters on marriage and finding joy in the journey had a lot to offer. He does mention the five love languages and explains them, but only in the briefest of ways.
In my opinion, this book should become a parenting classic. Just like the “What to Expect” books, it should become a great present for expecting parents. Why make mistakes you don’t have to make if you are willing to learn from the wisdom of others?
This book was given to me for free in exchange for my honest review. An affiliate link is included for your convenience.