Rebecca Hagelin’s new book is out and it has the intriguing title, 30 Ways in 30 Days to Save Your Family. Everybody knows that it is practically impossible to shield your children from the pervasive cultural pollution, but Rebecca presents 30 practical, down-to-earth suggestions that parents can implement one day at a time to help protect their children from negative outside influences as they instill solid values and nurture their children toward the right pathways through life.
I have to admit that the magic bullet kind of book that presents a list of things that will transform your life just does NOT appeal to me. The formulaic approach to serious issues does not interest me. So, I was hesitant to read Rebecca’s book for fear it would fit into that detestable, predictable pattern.
It definitely does not. Rebecca presents workable ideas for handling real-life situations with kids who want to live “in the world” without being “of the world.” Anybody who has been inside a public school in recent years or been around average teenagers (even those inside most churches) will understand that today’s world is a difficult place to negotiate, especially for college students and teens, but also for children in elementary and middle school.
Every parent has days when the whole world seems to be working against their goals in rearing their children. You try to inculcate manners and respect for others in your own child, and you hear one of their friends respond in an airily arrogant manner to an adult in your presence, “Well, that’s your opinion,” as though a child’s reaction is just as relevant as an adult’s wisdom. You try to teach your teenage girl modesty but quickly discover that it is a major undertaking to find a blouse that is stylish without exposing cleavage. You try to preserve your teen girl’s innocence, but half of her friends at school talk openly and explicitly about their sexual activity. You try to raise a fine young man, but your middle school boy already hears trash talk at every turn and boasting about sexual exploits. You try to provide good entertainment, but even the games and movies with good ratings promote values contrary to your worldview.
Parents need practical help and specific suggestions from someone who knows the challenges that they face with hectic schedules that pull a family “every which way.” I especially like the fact that Rebecca recognizes that it is a battle that parents have to face unrelentingly, every single day. I also like that fact that she acknowledges that parenting should be fun and fulfilling, not a chore to endure. Her book walks the fine line that parents have to walk – acknowledging the dangers and pitfalls but also recognizing the incredible opportunity and privilege it is to shape a new life into a happy, well-adjusted and contributing member of society.
I like the fact that she sees parenting as a mission to see that the God-given potential of each child is fully realized and that each individual child will know unconditional love from his or her parents and accept the reality that God wanted that child to be exactly how He planned him or her to be. Most of all, I respect the fact that Rebecca Hagelin’s book focuses on parental involvement, acknowledging the fact that parents have to “be there” both physically and emotionally for their children. Sometimes it is the busiest parents who are “there” both physically and emotionally, so the challenge is not simply a parent’s actual presence (though that is tremendously important). The really essential ingredient is the heart-to-heart, mind-to-mind connection with the parents that the child can rely on as a consistent foundation of their life from earliest memory into adulthood.
Another factor that I especially appreciated about 30 Ways is that Rebecca emphasized the fact that we cannot build barriers around our children to protect them from outside influences. We must help build their inner strength and help them develop character, integrity, and vital, authentic faith that will hold them steady in the midst of and sometimes right in the middle of all the negative aspects of modern culture. The days of sheltering our children from the world around us are essentially gone; we have to recognize that we cannot shield them. We must instead prepare them to let that “stuff” roll off without “dirtying” them. That is the major challenge facing today’s parents, and I don’t envy them. I am just grateful that they have Rebecca’s excellent 30 Ways as a guide to help them succeed in life’s most important job – preparing the next generation of Godly leaders.