I’m a wee bit early with November’s writing prompts–we’ve got a whole week of October left yet–but I figured it’d be good to have a head start for such a busy month. So here they are, friends!
The title of this book initially threw me off–I thought I was going to be reading about how kids cause divorce or something. It seemed pretty negative, and I worried the book would be kindof angry and disheartening. But in truth, it was uplifting and encouraging. The theme, “how to love your spouse with kids in the house,” is extremely relevant in a culture that often puts kids and their happiness ahead of spouses and their relationship. Child-centered marriages are not only real, they’re a real problem. For Better or for Kids acknowledges that and talks about how to overcome the inclination to embrace such a situation.
I think the message of this book is totally solid. All couples should read it, talk about it, internalize it, and spend some time really focused on implementing it together. Because at the end of the day, our kids need us to have strong, healthy marriages. If we aren’t strong together, our families aren’t going to function well. And I think we’ve all had enough dysfunction.
The thing I really appreciated about the book was that it didn’t just focus on how to work together as parents–it went beyond that role to talk about spouses as two people in love who happen to be surrounded by children. It’s not really a parenting book, though the title might give that impression. Instead, the focus is on being a couple–a strong, thriving couple–throughout the stage of life where kids are in the house. That’s some much-needed perspective. Yes, the role of “parent” is a critically important one. But it’s not all you are or all your spouse is, and it’s important to nurture who you are together in this stage–even though that can be tough. The authors did a great job of shifting the reader’s attention away from parenting and onto being a couple.
What I struggled with here was actually just in the writing itself. The book is co-authored by a husband and wife, and there’s a lot of jumping back and forth between the two. As in, several times per chapter, sometimes even per page. Reading along, I kept seeing “I (Patrick) did this…” and then “I (Rachel) said this to Patrick…” It felt chaotic and jumbled–I wish they’d chosen a different approach that made for a smoother reading experience.
Other than that, however, I enjoyed the book. I think the message is important, particularly for parents of my generation who so easily fall into the child-centered marriage trap. In fact, I’m planning on including a copy in a baby shower gift later this month–I’d recommend you (if you are or will become a parent) pick up a copy, too!
I received a copy of this book for review purposes. I was not required to write a positive review. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
There’s a lot to worry about as a parent. Is my kid on track developmentally? Is she making friends? Is she eating enough of the right foods? Is she going to pass that math test? Is she getting enough playing time on the volleyball team? Am I disciplining her correctly? Is that teacher giving her enough personal attention? Between our own questions, the pressures of our culture, and our kid’s actual struggles, it can sometimes feel like we’re fighting a losing uphill battle.
But the truth is, my little girl, like most kids in this country, has everything going for her. We are rich not only materially, but in opportunities as well. Aside from the fact that our family is stable, our home is safe, and we are able to provide for all of her basic needs and then some, she has the privilege of living in a country where her education is regarded as a priority. She’s actually required to attend school. I’m not sure I always appreciate what a blessing that part of our culture is. Little Rabbit’s biggest challenge when it comes to school will be her comprehension of the material or her relationships with her classmates–not finances or lack of family support or a culture that discourages education in any way. That is huge.
See, there are parts of the world where kids don’t get to go to school, or where they have to fight for the privilege–often against their own parents’ wishes. In poor countries, it is more immediately valuable to a family to have a child marry young or to be home to help earn money and care for siblings than to have that child in school. In Joyce’s family, for example, there are four children attending school without their father’s support. Joyce and her mother work hard to care for each other and Joyce’s three siblings. Joyce wakes up every day at 4:00 a.m. to make breakfast and get her siblings ready for school before heading to school herself. Joyce says, “Education inspires me work hard to be able to help my family to get out of the slum one day.”
But in the long run, education is one of the best weapons against poverty. An educated child is healthier, likely to earn more money as an adult, more likely to start a family later in life, and more likely to make sure his or her child goes to school as well. Adding all of that up, education becomes an investment that will pay off in significant ways over time. It can also pay off in more tangible ways in the immediate future.
Take Bridget’s story, for example. Bridget’s community does not have a health clinic–the closest one is six miles away, which is a great distance in an area where transportation is lacking and expensive. Bridget’s dream is to complete her education and become a doctor so she can help the ill and ailing in her community. Can you imagine the impact this one little girl could have, if only given the opportunity?
The unfortunate truth is that the realities of poverty often prevent kids from getting a complete education. That’s why the work of organizations like CARE, that strive to alleviate the pressures of poverty and eliminate the barriers they create, is so important. I’ve written about CARE’s work before, but it never stops being important. They work to alleviate poverty by empowering women and girls. And education is one very important avenue.
This time, CARE is asking people to reach out to kids around the world who face these tremendous barriers to education. It can be as easy as sending a short message of encouragement–even if it says simply don’t give up. Or you can take it a step further and donate to their work. It’s entirely up to you, but it’s a great opportunity to be part of something important and turn your gratitude for your advantages into something that will encourage and inspire others.
Hey friends! Just a quick PSA today–I need your help!
Last year, a bunch of us got together to launch #wejournallove, and the teams were off and running. But I’ve been hearing from a LOT of you lately that your journals are missing, and I’m having trouble tracking them down as well. SO. If you have a #wejournallove journal, or if you have seen one recently, please shoot me an email and let me know so we can get things running smoothly again.