I wouldn’t have known this was a Christian book from its cover which makes it a good one for the bus or train journey. Hold it up high so that others might catch a glimpse of it. You never know – they might look it up for themselves. Better still, they might even read it.
This is not a book to be read too quickly. With 240 pages of thought-provoking insights and guidance from mother of four, Ann Benton, also an experienced Primary School teacher, well known Speaker, Psychologist and Pastor’s wife, any reader would be a fool to ignore this biblical, practical and God-honouring book.
Beginning with an acknowledgement that parenting in the current culture brings challenges unthought of by our grandparents’ generation, (such as dealing with the emphasis on self-esteem, child-led parenting styles and relativist messages from school, the media and current writing on the subject), she tackles controversial topics with boldness and authority daring to promote the biblical teaching about obedience to parents, gender distinctives, the church and most importantly, God Himself, the perfect Father.
The first chapter on parental authority gives mothers and fathers the much-needed reminder that their children have been entrusted to them by God and that they therefore have a job to do, under Him; a job to do faithfully, without shying away or apologising for it. Namely the job of ‘knowing best’. Women in particular can feel that they are doing a terrible job as mothers and many choose to return to the relative ease of the work environment where they are affirmed, appraised and respected rather than be a stay at home mum where they are frequently ignored not to mention sicked upon. Some even believe that the child-minder or nanny, being ‘more detached’ is able to a better job than mum herself. Ann Benton gives confidence back to mothers exposing the lie that we can be full-time mothers whilst having full-time jobs.
So when motherhood is tellingly referred to as a ‘career break’, spot the lie. It would be closer to the truth to say that a mother’s paid employment is a ‘motherhood break’.
Who dares to say that these days! Having recently offended a friend who works in a highly-pressured senior management position by describing myself as a ‘full-time mother’ (for want of a better answer to the dreaded ‘What do you do?’ question), I certainly don’t!
Benton can afford to be bold, however, because she is biblical. Every argument is backed up clearly by scripture. Far from giving us a guilt trip, she rather liberates parents to do the job they’ve been assigned by their and their children’s Maker and to recognise it as a highly significant task, not an extra-curricular inconvenience.
Personally, I was deeply challenged by the wisdom concerning materialism, the ‘affluenza virus’ as she calls it.
There is absolutely no point in wondering why our children are so materialistic without looking at ourselves and wondering whether we have passed on this extremely contagious disease.
The pernicious connection we make between possessions and identity is scrutinised and shopping malls damningly described as ‘the new cathedrals’. Rather than allow our kids to build an identity based on the writing emblazoned on their sweatshirt, she reminds us to show our children the label God has written on them.
Parents tend to think that their own children are pretty special. But here is what makes your child really special: he or she is made in the image of God. She doesn’t need to wear designer label clothes; she already wears a designer label, that of one made by the immortal, invisible Creator.
These are messages we need to remind ourselves of first of all if we are to have a hope of modelling them to our offspring.
Ann Benton has succeeded in covering the most cutting edge issues (she also deals with technology, indoctrination, home-schooling and sex) without writing at overwhelming length or in too much detail. After all, how many parents whether working full-time in the home or in the work place have very much time to read!