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FIVE-STAR FAMILIES: Moving Yours From Good to Great
Carol Kuykendall
Revell
Family & Relationships/Parenting
ISBN: 0800730593

Carol Kuykendall --- author, speaker, and strategic projects director for MOPS International (Mothers of Preschoolers) --- has compiled what she considers the five-star winning components of a successful family. According to this mom of three grown children, the five key elements of a great family begin with love -- expressions that inspire and comfort; fun -- activities that recharge a family's batteries; loyalty -- lessons on sticking with family through it all; growth -- embracing new challenges and seeing the value of stretching; and faith -- holding close a relationship with Christ that shines vividly and practically into the lives of others. With many personal anecdotes, fanciful stories, and good common sense advice, Kuykendall does a marvelous job presenting a handbook for parents that is easy on both the eyes and the heart.

The author's two-part text deals with family matters that focus on the beginnings of new family life when a young couple first discovers they're pregnant. Some of the practical points offered in this section include deciding who to invite to the actual delivery, naming the baby by taking into account potential teasing/taunting as a result of this all-important choice, hashing out basic parenting decisions regarding naps/nursing/discipline, dealing with those unmet expectations that crop up almost immediately after giving birth, and learning to fit into the extended family with the newest member without stepping on other siblings' toes or feelings.

Kuykendall then delves into dreaming for a bit. Just what kind of family does the new couple want to be? The author discusses the value of looking back in order to glean the best of past childhoods while wisely leaving not-so healthy patterns behind where they belong. She also details the importance of taking a realistic look at where a family is today, accepting where people are, because this is the point from which everyone can move ahead. Finally, a brief segment on looking ahead with hopeful, faith-inspired enthusiasm closes out this foundational topic.

To complete part one, Kuykendall does a lovely job presenting the "gifts" children bring to a family. Clearly, children are gifts from God, but with them come powerful life lessons on perspective. Consider the gift of "do-overs," in which parents can relive the innocence and wonder of childhood discovery through their children's eyes. This important truth reminds parents that God is the giver of second chances. Kuykendall also cites the gifts of humility as children "reveal us to ourselves" as imperfect parents. Children also model sincerity of a simple, uncomplicated faith.

Once this solid foundation is set, Kuykendall spends a generous amount of space re-defining her five-star qualities, each with its own separate chapter (Love, Fun, Loyalty, Growth, Faith). Every chapter opens with a lengthy discussion that includes biblical principles and selected bible verses, personal insights from the author's own family life, specific action points, and quippy yet powerful quotations for increased take-away reminders. One of the most telling quotations included in this timely text appears near the end, and it typifies Kuykendall's entire message beautifully. "Family is...A soft place to land."


   --- Reviewed by Michele Howe

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