Monday, July 28, 2014

Book Review: Grace for the Contemplative Parent #SpeakeasyContemplativeParents

One of the spiritual formation concepts most dear to my heart is Brother Lawrence's practicing the presence of God. It is core to the Incarnational stream that Richard Foster describes in Streams of Living Water and feels like my spiritual home. For these reasons, Lily Crowder's book, Grace for the Contemplative Parent: A Practical Guide for Mothers Practicing the Presence of God caught my attention.

Crowder does a nice job of applying Brother Lawrence's concepts to the daily life of parenting. She will also probably make many mothers feel quite validated through struggles of the daily grind of life with kids. The points were good and could be powerful, although I didn't feel like there was anything particularly new in what I heard, even though I need to remember to give myself room for grace in many of these same circumstances. Many of the ideas were similar to ones I have conveyed to parents during the course of family therapy, which was validating to me, but not necessarily helpful in my own growth. Since I can still struggle with practicing God's presence, I was hoping this book would give me some new outlook that would translate to transformation. One of my reflections during the book was remembering that insight doesn't necessarily lead to behavior change. Learning something new about ourselves and the world is good and important, but sometimes we need practical skills to actually experience something different.

Even though the main title is "parent," the subtitle is "guide for mothers," and Crowder acknowledges early on that these principles are relevant to all parents, but she is targeting mothers. This is my biggest complaint. During our adoption process, almost all adoption resources were targeted at mothers (you'd be amazed at how many were pink and literally flowery--and my wife doesn't really like either). I felt really left out and invalidated, and I was just as active. Most parenting resources are similarly targeted toward mothers. Thankfully, there is increasing recognition that fathers are often active (and important) in parenting. I don't think it would have been that difficult to make this book more inclusive of fathers, and it would open up another huge audience. And believe me, fathers need grace, as well.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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