Rebellious Parenting: Daring to Break the Rules So Your Child Can Thrive
Richard Blackaby & Carrie Blackaby
Elevate Faith (2017)
Reviewed by Josh Cramer for Reader Views (07/17)
Have you ever felt you weren’t doing enough as a parent? Have you ever felt you were doing too much? In “Rebellious Parenting: Daring to Break the Rules So Your Child Can Thrive,” father and daughter team Richard & Carrie Blackaby ask hard questions about many aspects of parenting and then offer possible solutions. Some of these solutions may not be looked at favorably by everyone, but I think they offer an excellent conversation starter. One of the ways they do this is by switching narrators depending on the topic. I really liked seeing the stories and perspectives of both Blackaby's throughout. Additionally, each chapter offers actionable ideas that if you follow can help to change your parenting or at least shake it up some.
The Blackaby's take you through a parenting roller coaster. First, though, they define what a rebel is because the purpose of this book is to act as a rebellion against the “conventional” wisdom of today’s parenting culture. Once they have the definition of terms down, then the roller coaster really begins. They begin by discussing the pitfalls of relying on popular opinion to parent, allowing your kids to be unique (because God loves diversity), and actually using the word “stupid” to describe some actions and teaching the difference between being wise and unwise (and being a role model for lifelong learning).
They don’t stop there, though. This next advice is so different than what I was taught as a kid myself—it’s okay to quit. Karate lessons. Ballet. Soccer. If your kid isn’t enjoying it after giving it a fair chance, then why continue to torture them. Also consider this: what are your priorities? This leads to the next chapter (and I love this name): “Not now, sweetie: Mommy is having a meltdown”: Rebelling Against Self-Centered Living. The Blackaby's recommend teaching kids from our mistakes (which teaches lots of things like compassion).
In the end, the authors write, “Parents must walk the fine line between telling their children what major they should choose in college or what career track they should take, and helping them discover those paths for themselves. The same is true about parental involvement as young people choose a life partner” (366-67). So how involved should we be as parents? We certainly don’t want to see our children fail, but at the same time, some failure is needed to learn some lessons. So how involved should we be as parents? The Blackaby's offer the following challenges to parents:
1. Consider your personal motives. Make sure that what you want your kids to do is because it is best for your kids and not for you.
2. Encourage your child to take time to enjoy their youth, to learn, and to explore. This is not “wasting” time as unproductive. If your kid rushes into a job they are not ready for, they may burn out and feel like a failure; however, we must remind them that they are not a failure as a person. They just weren’t ready for that position yet.
3. Trust your child to make wise choices (especially if you have raised them to have high standards). This doesn’t mean to go AWOL; it just means your role as a parent has shifted.
4. Keep the pressure off. Don’t try to marry your child off as soon as possible. I loved Carrie’s example on this: “Mom, you may think that person and I would make a charming couple, but I find nocturnal reptiles to be more attractive.”
In addition, the authors challenge the kids to first seek God’s will, not panic, to keep working on themselves, and not to cave in, or settle for less than God’s best for them.
I’ve already started to incorporate some of the reflection and action ideas into my own parenting and I see myself rereading this book each year to glean new insight into my own stage of parenting.
That said, I would strongly recommend “Rebellious Parenting: Daring to Break the Rules So Your Child Can Thrive,” by Carrie Blackaby & Richard Blackaby to all parents (regardless of whether you identify as a Christian). There are great questions to consider and actionable parenting ideas that can begin small and grow as you become more comfortable with the ideas. Find this book, read it, and share it with a friend. You (and your kids) won’t be disappointed.