Time for another book review, I think. So what have I been reading lately? It should come as no surprise that it falls into the classification of a homeschooling book, a parenting book, or both in this case. I have been reading The Well Trained Heart by Ray and Donna Reish. I saw this recommended by a few families, but honestly was a little hesitant as Christian parenting books often are not a great fit for me. Some of them come off quite preachy and harsh in terms of types of discipline suggested. However, I decided to give it a read, as the more suggestions and advice the better for us. Then I weed out what I think we can use and forget the rest.
First off, the authors come across quite sincere and humble. They talk of their own journey to find a parenting style that works, of successes and failures, of struggles. That was a refreshing change from books that state right off that "if you do my program your kids will be perfect." Blech, not likely. In any case, the Reish book was definitely a winner in that regard.
I was also impressed by the very balanced viewpoint offered. Everything was backed up biblically, as I expected from recommendations. However, it was not excessively "spare the rod and spoil the child" type of biblical, meaning absolute obedience or else and little logic. Yes, they expect obedience from their children, but go into great detail explaining the core of their philosophy, which is a "relational" approach, meaning that everything hinges on the relationship you develop with your child, a relationship that is very warm, open and caring. It is not a one-way type of relationship where the children always obey and don't question. They talk a lot about debate in terms of formal debate, and how that can be applied to logic in parenting and rules.
Also stressed is character training in here prior to academics. I feel character training is not done enough. I don't mean again spanking or whatever of young toddlers. I mean time spent with your children teaching values and how to interact and live in community and society in a way that focuses on others rather than self/selfish needs. I think a lot of children (including mine in some areas!) lack that type of explicit teaching/training. The authors focus on avoiding peer influence more than I personally think is necessary, but they give their reasoning for it and so forth. Their thoughts are well explained on why they have made those choices in their family.
The steps to take to follow their model are well outlined with examples and suggestions. They also do talk briefly about their homeschooling, but that is no the focus of the book at all.
I gleaned several things from this book, and am quite glad I took the time to read it. It is a nice counterpoint to some of the more popular methods out there now including counting to three or relying solely on time outs essentially to get your children to behave. It is an excellent resource if you are like me and want to read and consider a variety of viewpoints on both ends of the spectrum before finally settling somewhere in the middle with a mixture of ideas you have collected.