A new resource for parents, 《亲子共成长》 (Growing through Parenting), is now available at Ambassadors for Christ.
My colleague Zhou Yi and I wrote our first parenting book in 2014,《教育子女的科学与艺术——智慧型家长成长手册》. It was published and very well received in China, and is still available there.1 With the pressure and stress of today’s world, we thought it was time to write another book emphasizing the importance of the parents’ own growth as they raise their children. This time we wrote from a Christian perspective to help parents realize that one of the important purposes of parenting is that they also grow and become more like Jesus.
Yi and I realized the need for this book as we have heard, and continue to hear, many stories about the stress parents face as they raise their children. Often, they see parenting as a burden rather than a joy. The extent of the problem became clearer as my husband and I traveled earlier this year to South Africa and parts of Europe, visiting many Chinese churches. One church leader told us that, “eighty percent of problems among church members come from marriage and parenting issues.”
A recent BBC article describes what is happening very well. The article says that parents are more influenced by their children than children are influenced by their parents. And this influence on parents is more negative than positive. The article also speaks of an increase in parental burnout. Many people are being turned off to the idea of parenting as they see unhappy parents around them. Or, if they are parents already, they hate it. In China, even though the government now allows more than one child, many are deciding not to have any children.
How can we counter the negative impact of having children on parents? A conscious, proactive approach to parenting that focuses on one’s own actions and reactions is needed. This requires seeing parenting from God’s perspective—that children are a gift from the Lord (see Psalm 127:3).
Proactive and conscious parenting is the opposite of “sliding,” a term used by Scott Stanley and his colleagues in their book about marriage.2 Sliding is going with the flow and letting things just happen. The way I am using it, sliding means going along with what society and the world say about raising competitive and successful children. It means being more focused on winning according to the world’s standards and being led away from what is important for emotional and spiritual health. “Growing through parenting” means looking at parenting as God’s invitation to personal growth. In the process, those parents raise emotionally and spiritually healthy children. It is the perspective of parents being able to say to their children, “follow me as I follow Christ.” Parenting then becomes more meaningful and is a joy rather than a burden.
A key emphasis in this material is that parents accept that they are limited human beings and the goal is to become “good-enough parents” rather than perfect ones. It is an ongoing growth process that will benefit both parents and children.
The book focuses on five specific areas that parents can work on that will benefit them and at the same time influence their children positively. These areas are godliness, resilience, acceptance, contentment, and excellence—we use the acronym GRACE.
Prior to talking about GRACE, we discuss how to untangle the various, sometimes conflicting, voices in our world today. We looked at three important ways to do this. One is basing one’s values and purposes on God’s truth. Another is understanding time-tested principles that do not conflict with biblical teachings. And lastly, knowing that most recent research affirms what we already know from the Bible!
This book is in the format of a group study; we believe that mutual encouragement is a very important ingredient in creating personal change and growth. We need one another to spur us along in this process of becoming more Christ-like.
It is our hope that this material will provide the guidance that parents need to raise their children according to God’s purposes and experience parenting as a God-given means for their own growth as well. Because we believe that many parents are confused and are blindly following the world, we hope this material will help them find their way back to God’s ways and realize that God is using parenting their children to make them more like Jesus. This will be a very meaningful study for church small groups and Sunday school, as well as for anyone who wants to become a parent after God’s own heart.
《教育子女的科学与艺术——智慧型家长成长手册》by Ruth Chang and Zhou Yi is available from several online sources in China. The English version, How to Win Your Child’s Heart is available on Amazon.
Ruth C. Chang received her doctorate in clinical psychology from Rosemead School of Psychology in 1980. Since 2006, Chang has been an associate staff of Narramore Christian Foundation, serving missionaries as well as speaking and writing about marriage, family, and other relational topics. From 2006 to 2012, Chang and her …View Full Bio
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