*This post contains affiliate links.
If you are a parent, it’s no secret that this parenting thing isn’t easy! When my first son was just a month old, I began reading book after book, trying to figure out the secrets of taking care of a newborn. And it also wasn’t long before I was thoroughly confused. Do I wake him from his nap to eat or not? Do I let him cry it out or rock him? I soon learned that instead of trying to figure it all out myself, I could take all of these concerns to a BIG God who loved my child even more than I did. There was such peace in that.
Now, am I saying that I got rid of all the books and quit reading books about parenting? Absolutely not! I have just become pickier about what I read, especially as God has grown us into a family of six. As my kids are growing up, there seem to always be new challenges and stages. Just recently, I was introduced to an author and her book that have really helped us in our current struggle.
Parenting When It’s Not Easy
I have not shared much about this struggle on my blog, but the last four years of homeschooling and parenting have NOT been easy. I won’t share too many details, but this year, my oldest son was diagnosed with high (social) anxiety. Kids with high anxiety can be explosive in their behavior. They want to be in control and can easily lose it when they’re not (with no warning). They often times struggle to see beyond themselves, to see that others have needs and feelings, too.
Recently, as I was speaking at a Teach Them Diligently Convention in Nashville, Tennessee, I “bumped” into Jill Rigby of Manners of the Heart. I shared a tiny bit of my story with her and she encouraged me to “help him learn to serve others, especially his siblings” I was drawn in by that comment and visited her booth later in the conference to find out more.
I spent a while talking with Jill, learning about her ministry to parents and to kids. She offered me a copy of her book, Raising Unselfish Children in a Self-Absorbed World and I have been working through it ever since. It has been an amazing tool for my toolbox in helping all of my children learn the art of serving others.
A Mirror Versus a Window
In her book, she shares that parents are usually very good at building kids up by saying things like, “You’re so beautiful” or “You’re such a good boy”. But she warns there is a huge danger in stopping there. Many parents (including me) also want their kids to be happy. This can sometimes cause parents to avoid asking kids to take responsibility for things. But she warns again that parents who only want happy kids often times forget to take it a step deeper.
By helping our kids develop deeper, we must focus on their character. She goes on to say that by stopping at the “You’re beautiful” comments and focusing so hard on our child’s happiness, we are continuously holding up a mirror to our children, so they only see themselves.
Throughout her book, she shares parenting tips to help kids see beyond themselves, through a window. The quote that has stuck with me the most throughout the entire book has been
When children look through the window at the world beyond, their own image is reflected back to them in the glass–but it’s in the appropriate context, as part of the world, not the center of the world. When your children look beyond themselves, not only can they see others, they also find their purpose in serving others. They find respect for themselves as children of God and this enables them to step into the world beyond the window to love others as they have been loved.
Teaching the Heart
Jill empowers parents to model love to our children and teach into their hearts by
- helping kids understand who they already are in God
- meeting kids’ needs instead of meeting all their wants
- picking appropriate chores for certain ages
- helping kids grow a passion for compassion
- teaching kids how to forgive/ask forgiveness
- cultivating generosity in our children
- helping them have hearts of gratitude, even in the small things
Want to read more?
You can purchase your own copy of Raising Unselfish Children in a Self-Absorbed World.
Jill is also offering a giveaway to one This Reading Mama’s reader (continental U.S. only). Be sure to read the terms and conditions before entering!
I’ve teamed up with several other bloggers as we all share recommended parenting books. Be sure to stop by and visit them as well! Each link is listed below:
- The Explosive Child (B-Inspired Mama)
- Wiring Kids for Success in Life (Trilingual Mama)
- The Contented Toddler Years + Routines: The Contented Little Me Says ‘Why’ (Words n Needles)
- Discipline Without Distress (One Time Through)
- Mom’s House, Dad’s House + Parenting Through Divorce (Lemon Lime Adventures)
- Positive Discipline A-Z + 5 Tips for Positive Discipline Parenting (Look! We’re Learning!)
- Real Boys (The Jenny Evolution)
- Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids (Dirt & Boogers)
- Smart Parenting for Smart Kids (Planet Smarty Pants)
- Raising Unselfish Children in a Self-Absorbed World – A Parenting Book About Teaching Kids to Serve (This Reading Mama)
- Bilingual is Better + Foreign Language for Preschoolers (Camilla and Roman)
- Awakening Children’s Minds and Raising the Emotionally Intelligent Child – Emotionally Intelligent Parenting (Line Upon Line Learning)
- Potty Training in a Weekend (Words n Needles)
- The Out-of-Sync Child – The Ultimate Sensory Processing Disorder Resource (Sensory Activities for Kids)
- 12 MORE Books for Moms (Teach Beside Me)