Building a Family That Lasts

In spite of all the differences between families, almost all of them struggle to some extent with the same basic issues. Probably because at the end of the day, families are people and the same issues that happened in the Bible still happen today.

I’m always interested in learning about new resources attempting to help strengthen families – especially if they point them to God in the process. So, I was interested when offered the chance to review the new book The DIY Guide to Building a Family That Lasts by Gary Chapman and Shannon Warden.

Chapman you probably know from the “Love Languages” books he has authored over the years. Warden is a counselor who co-authored this new parenting book. Trying to take advantage of the interest many have in DIY shows and projects, the authors have formatted the information to resemble a how-to manual for a physical home make-over.

Unfortunately, that was the biggest problem I had with the book. The format I’m sure seemed like a great idea at the time – each chapter is broken into several areas – home improvement goal, home improvement tool, drawing up the plans, do it yourself, all in budget, sweat equity, big reveal and talk it over. The result however was more distracting than helpful. I’m not a big fan of DIY shows (too many flashbacks to re-doing older homes I’ve purchased), so I kept wondering things like what do they mean by “all in budget” or “do it yourself”.

Honestly, I wish they had just scrapped the entire cuteness factor, because the information in the book was good. Or at least I think it was. I kept getting distracted by all the cuteness noise of the layout. A little of the information is repetitive if you have read one of the love languages books, but it contains a lot more new information than Chapman’s books generally seem to have in them.

The twelve topics covered by the chapters are foundational types of concepts in a home. From forgiveness to compromise and connection, they cover most of the primary ones that create the foundation of a strong home. Although the underlying principles are Christian in nature, there really aren’t any mentions of God by name or scriptures quoted. (Unless I missed it.) It’s unfortunate, because for a home to be truly “well built” God needs to be the foundation. Eliminating Him in an attempt to appeal to a wider audience ultimately robs those who aren’t Christians of the very information they need to build that stronger home.

In the end, this book is just fine – especially if you enjoy the DIY theme. I just wish it had spent less time trying to be catchy and more time introducing families to the help God can provide in their homes.

This book was given to me for free in exchange for my honest review. An affiliate link is included for your convenience.

Can Everybody Win in Family Conflicts?

Let’s be honest, conflict can ruin the best of days. When a home is in constant conflict everyone is miserable – even the kids who may not be directly involved in the fighting. So what can parents do to handle conflicts in productive ways that strengthen their family instead of ripping it apart?

Gary Chapman is best known as the author of the Love Languages books. Everybody Wins steps away from the love languages a bit and takes a look at conflict. While the book sounds as if it is written to handle any conflicts, it actually focuses on disagreements between husbands and wives. While that makes sense for many reasons, I honestly believe the principles would apply to any conflict between two people who truly care about each other and their relationship.

This book is an easy read and extremely practical. I won’t say it is easy, because if doing the things he suggests were that easy, we would all be doing them already. The book is small (literally) and has only seven chapters. The first two are more general, while the remaining five address a particular step towards conflict resolution.

To say the advice is common sense is to deny the power it could provide many couples of resolving those marital fights that happen over and over – sometimes for decades. Chapman encourages the reader to reframe how they see themselves, their spouse and the conflict itself in more productive ways.

If both people in the marriage work this book (which includes discussion questions at the end of each chapter), there would be happier marriages all around. The key is to remember that great marriages aren’t an accident. They take work on the parts of both spouses.

If you haven’t read this book and you ever feel like your conflicts aren’t resolved in the best of ways, this is the book you need to read. Changing bad habits may be more difficult than reading the book, but in the end it could make life a lot better.

This book was provided to me for free in exchange for my honest review. An affiliate link is included for your convenience.

Do You Need to Sell to Your Kids?

The problem with selling is that we have all been exposed to that slick, “used car”, high pressure salesperson who seems unaware of the difference between the truth and a lie. The idea of trying to “sell” our kids on something we want them to do also seems counterintuitive – shouldn’t they just obey without questioning?

When your kids are little, there is some amount of control a parent has over their kids. Children often think their parents are perfect when they are tiny. As they get older and exposed to the ideas of others though, some begin to wonder if their parents are so smart after all. Surely, the teacher with the advanced degrees, the celebrity who seems perfect or the non-profit “hero” are smarter than their parents.

If you have a child that balks at everything you say or ask of them, you may be able to learn some lessons from the best of salespeople. Because a really great salesperson understands that convincing someone to do something is more about trust and relationship than it is price or frills.

So I was interested when offered the chance to review the republished Zig Ziglar classic, Secrets of Closing the Sale. Would the master salesperson have hints that could help struggling parents? As it turns out, he really may be able to give you some great tips.

Although the book itself suggests its techniques can help parents and others besides salespeople, you will have to do some “translating” of sorts to make the connection to what a salesperson would do and what you can adapt and use as a parent. Although his tips are classic, I have to admit I’m not a huge fan of the way the book is arranged. It’s rather old school in that every tip is labeled a “close” when in reality not all of them are actually true closes. To me that slows down the book. They added two chapters by Kevin Harrington to update it, but they should have re-edited it more.

In spite of the fact that the editing makes the book feel a bit dated, the actual information is as helpful as it was the first time I read it in my first sales job. I have always appreciated that Ziglar spent so much time focusing on integrity and character – something many salespeople believe would make them unsuccessful. In reality, being honest and trustworthy and truly caring about your clients are what makes a salesperson successful.

Parents who are struggling should pay special attention to the sections about communication. Ziglar cuts to the heart of the communication problems that make it difficult to convince someone to do something they may not initially want to do. Not everything may apply to parenting, but it’s surprising how much does.

If you are in sales, of course this book is a classic. If you are trying to parent a child who seems to not want to be parented, you may just pick up some very helpful tips.

A copy of this book was given to me for free in exchange for my honest review. An affiliate link is included for your convenience.

Kinda Dangerous Family Devotions

One of the most important things you can do as Christian parents is to have regular family time in scripture. There are a lot of ways to do that, but probably the most popular is the family devotional. Unfortunately, many families avoid having family devotionals because the parents are unsure of what they should actually do during the devotional time with their kids.

We are always on the look out for new devotional books your family might find helpful. Recently, we were sent The Very Best Hands-On Kinda Dangerous Family Devotions by Tim Shoemaker to review. The concept is great – 52 family devotions that get families into scripture, but also have fun out of the box activities that go with them.

The set up of the book is parent friendly. At the beginning of each devotion there is a section outlining the materials you will need. There is also an area clearly marked that tells you what you need to do before you call your family in for the devotion – a must for those of us who skim or don’t like to read directions and then things don’t work well. The rest is standard devotion material – an activity and a discussion of the scriptures the activity was designed to help your children better understand.

The theology is pretty basic, although I would say this book is not for a family of very young children – I would say preschool and definitely elementary children would benefit the most, although some of the devotions teens would enjoy, too.

Fair warning though. There is a fatal flaw in this book for some families. Many of the materials required for the devotionals are not necessarily things you will have around your house – especially if you are not a DIY type of family. Having to purchase some of the needed items would make a few of the devotions a little pricey – especially if you will never use those items again.

The devotions also take a bit of prep time. Not outrageous amounts of time, but most of these devotions can’t be pulled off with no advance preparation. Honestly, I like that the devotions are that out of the norm and force parents to think and prepare before actually teaching their kids. I wish the author had encouraged parents to do some Bible preparation in addition to setting up the activity – it never hurts to drive parents back to the Bible more, too.

This is a great family devotion book if you like hands-on, family activities and don’t mind finding random objects and spending time preparing them. It could be the book you need to get your family doing regular family devotions.

This book was given to me for free in exchange for my honest review. An affiliate link is included for your convenience.

The Intimate Connection

One of the biggest secrets of Christian parenting is that the quality of your marriage has a major impact on your kids. Not just now, but for the rest of their lives. They will choose whom they date often in reaction to what they see in your marriage. They will many times copy the ways you relate to each other as they relate to others. Even their sense of security and other fundamental areas are impacted by your marriage.

That’s why it’s so important we don’t just let our marriages slide. If someone tells you they have a great marriage and it hasn’t taken any work, I can almost promise you their spouse is miserable. Healthy marriages take intentional effort on the parts of both spouses. Unfortunately, most couples settle for being casual roommates rather than working for the true intimacy God intended for marriage.

The new book The Intimate Connection: Secrets to a Lifelong Romance by Dr. Kevin Leman tries to help you have that intimate relationship God wants for your marriage – and your kids need your marriage to have. It’s important to note that intimacy actually has less to do with sex and more to do with communication and other relational issues. This book also doesn’t deal as much with the Hallmark Channel type of romance as one would think either.

Leman calls each area he believes needs effort to achieve real intimacy a “secret”. The book covers thirteen of them – from how to better understand your spouse to how to talk so he or she will listen and more. Interestingly, sex is really the focus of only one of those chapters.

I like the organization of the material and the practicality of the author’s suggestions. Most marriages I have seen could at least use a tune-up in many of the “secrets” – not because of problems, but because people get so busy it’s easy to let something that isn’t perceived as an issue to just slide.

And that’s actually the main point of the book – people need to stop just coasting through their marriages. They can have amazing marriages if they will stop settling for an okay one just because it is easier.

I really only have two issues with the book. The first are the couple of chapters dealing with personality. While the main points he gives are valid, I’m just not a huge fan of the personality types he chose to use. Everyone has their favorite personality assessment and tends to identify with it more. I think the author would have been better served to come up with his own categories, names and descriptions that are a little more practical and less formulaic.

I also wonder why this book was published by a publisher as a “Christian” book. The only mention of God or faith or anything close to it was a brief “oh by the way” type paragraph towards the end. If this is truly a Christian book, then the author needs to step up and show the incredibly important role faith plays in a marriage. Otherwise, this is a secular book and will lack the most helpful ingredient to a marriage – having God as the center of it.

While this is a good marriage book with plenty of helpful suggestions, at the end of day it won’t be as useful as one that takes the time to help couples put God at the center of their marriage while they do some of these other things.

A copy of this book was given to me for free in exchange for my honest review. An affiliate link is included for your convenience.