Anyone who has read and appreciated Eggerich’s book on marriage, Love and Respect will find much to learn from and apply in Love and Respect in the Family. Similarly formatted, the guiding principle of this book is that parents desire respect and children need love. A lot of it is sensible, rings true and is very helpful.
Eggerichs’ message throughout is that parenting is for adults, so be an adult – be the one who is in control, manages yourself and takes responsibility. You are the only adult in the parenting relationship, so it’s time to be the grown up.
“Craziness in the family intensifies because of the parents’ immaturity, not the kids’ immaturity” (p32)
“To control our children, we must first control ourselves. To discipline our children, we must first be self-disciplined” (p104)
He works through three sections:
1. The Family Crazy Cycle: when a child doesn’t feel love, they react, and when a parent doesn’t feel respect, they also react. Parents need to decode and then defuse the situation. There are helpful practical tips for parents and kids, but in the end it’s up to parents to figure out what’s really going on in both their kids’ hearts and their own hearts.
2. The Family Energising Cycle: a parent’s love motivates a child’s respect, which in turn motivates the parent’s love. Throughout this section, there’s a chapter to explain each letter of his acronym, GUIDES: Give, Understand, Instruct, Discipline, Encourage and Supplicate (pray). Eggerichs encourages parents to work as a team, and to be aware of gender differences in parenting.
“A good strategy is to be a “benevolent dictator” through most of their childhood years; then move to a more democratic approach as your kids enter teen years… Your long term goal is to move from control to counsel.” (p101)
3. The Family Rewarded Cycle: a parent’s love is given regardless of a child’s respect. This is where the Christian aspect of parenting really comes to the fore: our parenting is not to be child or parent-focused—it’s to be Christ-focused.
“Yes, we concentrate on the kids in parenting since that is inescapable, but we focus more on Christ in parenting since that is incomparable.” (p187)
We’re called to show unconditional love, as God has loved us. We are to be wary of parenting for outcomes, as children will inevitably make their own choices. In the end, we’re only in control of our own responses and behaviours, so we take control of ourselves and trust God with the rest. Eggerichs concludes with a challenge to think about the legacy you will leave your children.
This is yet another book that has made it to my recommended reading list for parents – it will encourage and challenge you as you seek to serve and trust Jesus in your parenting.
Wendy & her husband (with their three lovely teen/tweens) are in full-time ministry in Adelaide, involved with university students, and marriage and parenting ministries. Wendy reviews books and blogs at musingsinadelaide.blogspot.com.au.