PARENTING IN THE HOME STRETCH: 12 Ways To Prepare Your Kids For Life On Their Own
Family Times columnist and former Moms and Dads magazine editor Connie Neumann wants parents to make sure they are intentional about readying their children for life as adults. Although the title, PARENTING IN THE HOME STRETCH, is a bit misleading (this book is not just for parents with older teenagers, and the "12" in the title refers to the number of chapters rather than topics), Neumann's book is full of good, practical information to make the most of the time you have with your children before they leave home.
"From the time our children are born, our job as parents is to prepare them for lives of their own, away from us," writes Neumann. "One of the realities of raising children is that by the time you've become an expert at it, you're out of a job."
The overall parenting advice from Neumann is what you'd expect. Don't be afraid to be firm. Stay on top of who your kid's friends are. Make faith a natural part of your family life. All good advice, but what sets this book apart from other parenting books is the assessment checklists Neumann includes at the end of each chapter that help parents gauge their follow-through on different aspects of parenting.
For example, in her chapter on money management (the number one thing Neumann says she finds that parents say they wish they'd taught their children), Neumann offers three groups of questions: one set relating to late elementary/middle school children ("Does my child have a savings account?"), a set for parents of older teens ("Does she know the cost of car insurance?"), and one set for parents to assess their own parenting ("Do I allow my children to suffer the pain of poor money choices?").
Neumann, who is divorced and remarried, offers a welcome chapter on single-parent and blended families with specific questions geared toward those who have divorced. "Do I respect my former spouse's position in the children's lives?" "Do I bad-mouth my ex on a regular basis?" "Have I dealt with my emotions about the divorce, so I can help my children handle theirs?"
Neumann quotes liberally from authors such as James Dobson and Josh McDowell, and is quick to recommend her favorite books, which some readers will appreciate. Although she has concrete ideas about parenting, she's not averse to some latitude in letting the reader decide what works best for a certain child in a certain type of household (whether teens should be expected to keep their rooms clean, for example, is up for grabs).
She's evenhanded in her chapter on chores and life skills, insisting that it's important for tasks not to be allocated by gender. Boys, she says, need to learn skills such as cooking and cleaning; girls need to know basic yard and car maintenance skills. (And kudos to Neumann's husband Harry, who is the only other husband besides mine I've ever heard of who does most of the ironing.) Reminds Neumann about our kids: "She may not marry. He may not find a wife who will take over the inside chores."
Neumann dispenses her advice with confidence tempered with lighthearted humility, doubtlessly born of parenting in the trenches. "Though it is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day aspects of parenting, let's not lose sight of the goal: raising strong, confident, godly children," writes Neumann. "Let's be intentional in our parenting, so that we can look back on these years and say we did our very best."
--- Reviewed by Cindy Crosby. Contact Cindy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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