Big Picture Parents: Ancient Wisdom for Modern Life
‘When my mind is spinning with too much parenting information, I become fixated on the tiny details of my children’s lives, based on whatever I read last. At one point, it dawned on me that I had become more concerned about how many servings of vegetables the boys were eating each day than about whether or not they were learning to be kind. I had lost sight of the bigger picture.’
Do you like to read parenting books? Maybe you are past that stage, or not in that stage at all, but you would like to be able to recommend a good parenting book. Harriet Connor’s Big Picture Parents is like a breath of fresh air in a world filled with blogs, lists of top tips and Instagram pictures of everyone else’s perfect family. Sometimes it’s all a bit overwhelming and you need to step back and see the big picture.
A lot of what Connor says is not new. If you have been a Christian for a while and have a good grasp of biblical theology, then Connor’s approach to parenting by looking at who we are, how God relates to us and how he has related to humans in history, will not be new to you. But sometimes it helps to have it all laid out to remind ourselves of how God parents us, how he has loved us despite our failings, and what he desires for us as we live to serve him in all aspects of our lives. It is a helpful book because Connor discusses what parenting today is like and why it is so hard, and she shows us answers in the Bible that point to our big problem and our big purpose. We need to be reminded that: ‘Happiness is not the primary aim for us or our children, but a by-product of living out our Big Purpose: honouring God and loving other people’.
Connor breaks down the Ten Commandments and looks at the values behind them that are actually reaffirmed in the Sermon on the Mount. She looks at love, rest and contentment. She reminds us that we need to model the values that we want our children to learn. And that when we fail, and when they fail, we can rest in God’s forgiveness, get back up and keep striving towards the goal of loving. ‘It is not a choice between being a Super Parent or the Worst Parent in the World – we just need to be a ‘good enough’ parent, who keeps aiming for what is important.’
Connor affirms biblical manhood and womanhood and emphasises the importance of honouring biblical marriage. She gives a thorough outline of biblical theology to explain being in God’s family, and this leads into talking about children being part of a bigger community. The importance of meeting together with our spiritual family for teaching the gospel to our children, for having opportunities to love others, and for being able to support each other as we parent is clearly explained from the Bible.
Sometimes we want the quick fix and the latest tip that will help us make it through the latest trying parenting crisis. But Connor’s book reminds us that by taking ourselves back to the Bible, by looking at our purpose and by being reminded of the undeserved love that God has showered us with through His son, we are better equipped to see both our children and ourselves as God sees us. Then we can better see the way forward, rather than being reactionary parents caught up in trying to make our kids happy. In my next post I hope to unpack a few more ideas and give you a sense about whether this book would be the right kind of parenting book to give to your friend, family member or congregation member.
Writer | Rachael Collins is a Jane Austen fan who often finds it amusing that she is married to Mr Collins who is indeed a minister. Rachael enjoys gardening, drinking tea and op shopping. In between planting a new church and making chocolate fudge, she really hopes to read a lot of good books this Summer.