Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Raising Respectful Children in a Disrespectful World - Book Review

I believe something we can do as people involved in children's ministry is serve as a resource for parents. There is no shortage of books on topics related to child rearing - some are excellent, some are not. When we find a resource which is excellent, we should share it with the parents in our ministries. 

Raising children is no small challenge. It is difficult. So much is at stake. If we want our children to grow to be adults who love and serve God, it matters what we do with them when they are little; it matters how they are raised.

Harvest House Publishers sent me the book, Raising Respectful Children in a Disrespectful World by Jill Rigby to review. This is an excellent book. It is truly filled with solid, helpful information and advice to help parents raise their children to be adults who love and serve God. There is so much information in it, I'm going to take all week to focus on just some of the content to give you an idea of what this book is all about. I will say right here, if you only read - and recommend - one parenting book, make this the book you read and recommend.

Today I want to focus on the part of Raising Respectful Children in a Disrespectful World where Jill challenges us to "shield our treasures from the trash" . . . of course our "treasures" are our children and the "trash" is the media; magazines, books and music.  In this chapter Jill quotes Johnny Gruelle, the creator of Raggedy Ann: "Books for children should contain nothing to cause fright, suggest fear glorify mischief, excuse malice or condone cruelty." If we used this bench mark to measure which books we allowed our children to read and which ones we do not, the list of books we allowed them to read would be significantly shorter. While we do not tend to run into books for children seven and younger which do these things there are no shortage of books which would not meet this standard for children who have learned to read. 

You may have noticed I rarely recommend books for children who are old enough to read. The reason for this is because I regularly check out the book catalogs from publishers and once you get to the "chapter books", it is really difficult to find one which I can recommend because the content is filled with innuendo  violence  foul language, false religions the "doctrine" of "do whatever you want", and occultist themes. Why would we want to fill our own children's minds and the minds of the children in our ministries with these things? As children move through elementary school and into jr and sr high, the required reading list is filled with books which are filled with these things. 

Messages matter and books do influence the way we all think. We need to take a stand and find books which children and teens can read which will lead them to make wise choices and have a closer walk with God; not which encourages the opposite. We need to equip our parents to do the same.

Jill also writes about magazines which peddle soft porn to children as young as 10 years old and music which has degenerated to the point of needing to be rated. She says; "Once upon a time music inspired love to blossom . . . and spoke of the one true love which lasts forever. Lyrics encouraged love with one special someone. How standards for what's acceptable in music have changed! Now no topic is taboo. Many of today's top pop stars started out as 'innocent girls' who 'sexed up' their acts to increase record sales. Today's lyrics are filled with a word which begins with the letter f. It's even in the titles of songs by R&B crooner Eamon and the hip-op artist OutKast. Twenty years ago these folks would not have been allowed on any stage anywhere in our country. Today they preform before sold-out audiences."

I'm thankful Jill Rigby took this topic on in her book Raising Respectful Children in a Disrespectful World and goes on to encourage us to raise our children with a "shield of protection around them" with the goal of keeping bad influences from damaging their character. We want our children to become adults who change their world and can do this by "teaching them a 'better way'". Jill gives three excellent suggestions for doing exactly this - read the book to see what her suggestions are! :-)

Jill ends this chapter by saying, "Do you want to raise respectful children in a disrespectful world? Then saturate their minds with the right stuff, the good stuff the world has to offer. By doing this, you will not only be shielding your treasures from the trash, you'll be training them to discern for themselves what is worthy of their time and interest, especially if they see you take a stand for the right against the wrong."

Put Raising Respectful Children in a Disrespectful World on your list of books to recommend to parents - consider offering a class where parents can work their way through this book with other parents in your church - there are discussion questions for each chapter in the back of the book so it is an excellent book to use for a parenting class!

Tomorrow I'll share with you what Jill has to say about shielding your treasures form the trash in movies, TV, video games and the internet.

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