Why I (Almost) Threw Away My Parenting Books

why wednesday newToday I’m getting  a bit personal. I wanted to pour my heart out

I am an avid reader and have been since childhood. Naturally, I started devouring parenting books as soon as I found out I was pregnant. The bookstore was the first place I headed as soon as I left the doctor’s office with a positive pregnancy result. (I also locked my keys in the car, but that’s another story!)

After having my daughter I continued to glean as much information I could from book, blogs. and advice from others. While I found helpful information in most of these, I also began to doubt in our parenting decisions. Almost every time I brought my concerns to my husband, he would ask, “You’ve been reading a parenting book or blog again, haven’t you?” My answer was always yes.

While my husband sees value in books, he has a much more balanced approach than I do. “I don’t think we should base our parenting decisions on what we read. We need to pray and ask God to direct us as parents, not trust man’s opinion.” His truth of his words struck a chord deep inside. Obviously, he was right.

parenting books

After mulling over this on my own for awhile, I realized that I easily allow books and information to become a god in my life. Instead of dropping to my knees and asking the Creator for direction, I consulted the advice of men. Instead of reaching for the Bible, I scanned the pages of a non-fiction book or opened a search engine on my laptop. What a tragedy!

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” –James 1:5

In light of this, I am not reading parenting books for a time. Not because I believe that reading them is a sin or that they are of no use. But, for me, they are a stumbling block. A distraction. I am following the advice of Hebrews 12:1-2:

“…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”

While I don’t believe everyone needs to take such an extreme action, I do want to challenge and encourage you to evaluate your heart. Information you find in books and blogs are only tools and advice from imperfect people. Let us make sure we are consulting the Lord first in the matters of parenting and and following His leading above all else.

Are you getting parenting advice from God or man?  <— Tweet this!

 

This post is gratefully shared with some of these link-ups.

Comments

  1. Elizabeth@Warrior Wives says

    I totally have the same issue and for that reason, I read hardly any parenting books and the ones I do read, I choose carefully and space them out so that I’m not overwhelmed. I’m such a rule-follower (curse of the firstborn child) that I always make myself feel like I’m not doing this parenting thing “right”. And you’re right, every parenting book has flaws and the only perfect book giving us wisdom for parenting is the Bible!

    • Jenni says

      Ah yes… I am a firstborn as well. Spacing the books out is a good idea. I will probably do that when I start reading them again. Thank you for sharing your thoughts today, Elizabeth!

  2. Nikki @ Christian Mommy Blogger says

    Oh goodness this is so true. I worried about everything and how “this book said this” and “that book said that” and stats and methods. When I had #2, I was so stressed (trying to follow books for two children was much more of a challenge than one). My mom (mother of 4) was helping me while my husband was deployed. She said “You can’t worry about all that.” She delved into it in greater detail, as you are saying, but simply knowing that I can’t worry was enough for me. I can’t control all of it and I can’t allow these books to take the place of God’s Word and my seeking His wisdom! Thanks for reminding me of the Jenni!

    • Jenni says

      My mother told me something similar… “Babies haven’t read the parenting books!” Thank goodness for the wisdom of the moms that have gone before us.

  3. Brenda @Triple Braided says

    Oh Jenni!! Being pregnant with our first baby, and an avid reader, I asked for Amazon gift cards for my birthday so that I could buy the parenting books I *need* to help me!! Your post is so convicting and wonderful! I love this: “I easily allow books and information to become a god in my life. Instead of dropping to my knees and asking the Creator for direction, I consulted the advice of men.” I need this advice so badly. Thank you!!

    • Jenni says

      It is amazing how many things we find to be a NEED, isn’t it? I am beginning to realize that too much information can be too much of a good thing… or bad thing, depending on how you look at it! So glad to be a blessing… I enjoy reading about your journey toward motherhood. :)

  4. Becky Kopitzke says

    I can relate to this. My older daughter defied all expert advice when it came to her sleep habits (or lack thereof). So I spent a few years thinking I was a failure because my daughter didn’t fit the mold – and I was exhausted. Finally, our pediatrician spoke the words that freed me. “You don’t need a license to write a book.” Actually, as a writer, that’s kind of humbling and painful to hear, but it did help me recognize that my child is unique, and every book is written from someone else’s unique perspective. When the two just don’t match up, toss the book and move on.

  5. Joy @ Joy In This Journey says

    I think it takes some time to understand that what works for one child doesn’t work for another, even in the same family. It also takes confidence that God gives us the wisdom we need for each. Sometimes that wisdom comes from another mom, sometimes from a book, sometimes from our husbands, sometimes it just comes to us in the still of the night.

  6. Tereasa says

    I love to read fiction and non-fiction. After adopting, I found that the parenting books made it look to easy or scared the bajeebies out of me. I read them sometimes now, but have come to the same conclusion. God knows what he’s doing.

  7. Shell says

    You can pretty much find a parenting book or a blog that gives every opinion there is. It all just gets confusing! Better to go with our guts!

    • Jenni says

      You are right, Shell. It can get confusing! That is why I am so thankful we can turn to the Lord for guidance. Thanks for your comment!

  8. Mary Beth says

    Jenni. We have GOT to get together. The more I read of you, the more I see myself. I’ve had to do this too. If only I could find a way to turn off the advice of other people…

    Thanks for linking up!
    MB

    • Jenni says

      So true, Mary Beth! Ah yes, people tend to be a overly eager to offer advice. I try to not be that way, but I’m sure I’ve done my fair share of it at times. :)

  9. donnao says

    I wish I would have had this tidbit of info 20 years ago :0). It would have saved us a lot of heartache in our relentless pursuit of perfection in parenting and our family in general. We followed a few particular “parenting gurus”-quite popular in our Christian faith. It was not so much the teaching was not very sound…I mean it was NOT sound at all. But the real issue was like what you said: Are you following God or man? The ones we followed had lists and we were taught us that if we follow these lists then THIS will be the outcome. There is little room for our frail human nature…there were rules, guidelines, and programs. But kids do not fit nicely into little boxes…no matter how hard we try to make them. I am so thankful God worked through the misery I was putting my kids through and healed our family. God first…advice is ok, but He needs to be first! A GREAT post!
    I feel the same way about marriage books/seminars. All they did was provide me with reasons to be discontented when my *husband* did not do what the guy on the DVD said he should be doing! Imagine…it was not that *I* needed work…no not at all :0). Pray, ask, trust…He will answer. he is like that!

    • Jenni says

      “…kids do not fit nicely into little boxes..” SO very true! And I agree with you, this goes beyond just parenting. I believe we need to be discerning on the advice we follow in every area. Thank you for sharing your thoughts today!

  10. Tanya Marlow says

    Coming to you via Joy…

    I SO related to this post! When I was pregnant, I read all the parenting books. (I was actually quite keen on finding one that allowed you to sleep through the whole night without waking up at all – and shocked to discover that that didn’t exist! Wow- babies are really high maintenance, I thought….)

    So I was fairly terrified about the whole thing.

    I think it’s so easy to read them as a fearful ‘they say this – so I must…’ rather than ‘they have this tip, which may or may not work for me and my baby’. Somehow it was more scary when I was pregnant rather than when I had the baby – the tips and things that I read before had prepared me a little,and I could focus on getting to know my baby and what made him tick.

    Thinking of you as you prepare – so exciting! So scary!

    • Jenni says

      Ha! Yes, babies ARE high maintenance. It is so easy to become fearful in our parenting. This is something I am planning to write about in the future. Thanks for your comment, Tanya!

  11. Christin @ Joyful Mothering says

    AMEN!!! I have been through this season, too!! I got so bogged down by all the parenting advice and methods and philosophies, I didn’t even know what *I* believed anymore or what God was asking of me.

    There is one author whom I love and whom I think has it as close to “right” as I’ve ever seen (at least for us), so I’m sticking with her, and a few other authors who seem to get it and click with what I believe God is telling us. So, I just devour those over and over again. ;)

    Good for you and I can soo relate!

    • Jenni says

      Christen, I have a feeling I may know what author you are talking about and I agree with you. I appreciate parenting books that focus on Biblical principles and deal with the heart and motives of the parents more than the how-to of parenting. Those are the types of books I plan to read through on when I begin reading again.

  12. Mindy @ New Equus - A New Creation says

    Although the small children phase is long behind me, I still remember the advice other’s would “give”. Although I didn’t have God in my (and my children’s) life much later, He was still with me. The one piece that stands out among all the rest was when my now 22 y.o. was 2 and throwing a fit in the grocery store. An older woman came by and said I needed to make her be quiet. I was so frazzled that I think I just gave her a dirty look and moved on. But I was thinking OK…why don’t you give it a try and let me watch! LOL Great post Jenni!

    • Jenni says

      I am often amazed at how people make flippant and hurtful comments when it comes to parenting. Thankfully, we don’t answer to anyone but God! Thanks for sharing your story.

  13. Gail says

    Hi Jenni, This is so wise. As a mother of adult children, I can look back and see ways I let books influence my parenting more than the Bible. I slipped into the popular self-esteem philosophies that even many of the Christian authorities were promoting. And Later I discovered I had to do some back tracking because I was encouraging my children to think more of themselves than they should. Some authorities are now confessing that teaching our children self-control is more important than self-esteem, something the Bible has been saying all along! But it’s very easy to be drawn into the popular theories of the day. Thanks again for sharing this important perspective. Gail (BibleLoveNotes.com)

    • Jenni says

      Gail, thank you for sharing this example! You are so right. It is easy to be swayed by what is popular, but only the Lord and His Word will never change…

  14. Becky says

    I love this! It’s so true of me as well. Every time something new happens in my life, I inevitably need a book to go along with it. Granted, there have been times when I know that I know that God directed me to a certain book or blog post or whatever, and I believe He can certainly speak to us that way, but I’m right there with you in that whenever I have a challenge, I reach for a book or Google something. The challenge for me I think will be *remembering* this for every stage of parenting. Excellent advice, Jenni! :-)

    • Jenni says

      Becky, I definitely agree that God uses the words and advice of others to minister to us at times. But, yes, the challenge is seeing God FIRST and remembering to do so.

  15. Carmen says

    I found reading pregnancy and parenting made me crazy. I worried so much about all the little things that could go wrong and stopped enjoying what was right. So much of it is intuition anyway – if you just listen to your heart and pray.

  16. Marissa says

    Love this – so true, it is incredibly easy to fall prey to the idol of learning from worldly books. I can understand the need to step back completely in order to hear His guiding whisper. So glad you shared this on Cozy book today! I love that you post such great stuff all the time!

    Marissa

    • Jenni says

      Thank you for the kind compliment, Marissa. I’m so glad that you are being blessed by reading and hope to continue to encourage you in your faith. May we live for God’s glory!

  17. Miranda says

    Thank you for sharing your heart. I loved how you said that it isn’t a sin for many people but still a stumbling block for you. Oh so true. Different people struggle with different things — it takes grace to accept other people for what their faults are.

  18. Heather Ablondi says

    I have been guilty of this in the area of Bible study. I got caught in the cycle of always needing a Bible study book to go through. I realized that by doing this, I was letting someone else interpret the Bible for me. The Lord convicted me that I was missing out on His message for ME by always relying on someone else to help me study the Bible. I am still working on developing my Bible study skills, but since giving up those books, the Bible has come alive to me in a way that I had not experienced before.

    • Jenni says

      I agree that we should rely wholly on other books when studying the Bible. They can definitely be good tools though. So glad you are striving to develop your study skills. I am hoping to do a series on this in the future! :)

  19. imperfect prose says

    ahh, i love that you addressed this important issue. i do think God can speak through parenting books, but i try to derive most of my wisdom through prayer and listening to God’s voice.

    • Jenni says

      Yes! God can definitely use the advice of others to direct us, but (like you stated) prayer and reading the Word should always be given priority. Thanks for your comment!

  20. Lauren @mercyINK says

    Absolutely fantastic. SO often we as believers are looking all around for answers, help, guidance… and we forget or neglect to consult the Word of Life. Good stuff.

    Blessings!
    Lauren
    Heart&Home Link Up @mercyinkblog.com

  21. Courtney says

    We discussed this same topic (although not specifically related to parenting books) in our Christian Parenting Sunday School class yesterday, as we studied 1 Corinthians 2. That chapter is about finding wisdom through the Holy Spirit, and not through “wise words of man”. I think it gets to your point – sometimes I too get caught up in trying to figure a problem out, rather than praying about it and trusting God to work it out. There has to be a healthy balance, and sometimes it takes cutting out the “man-made” advice for a while to get back in the correct rhythm.

    • Jenni says

      So true! We all need to strive to remember this for every area of life, not just parenting. Thank you for sharing you thoughts, Courtney!

  22. Lori Slice Hatcher says

    Jenni,

    James 1:5 has been my mantra as I’ve raised two young adults. God has always been faithful to lead and guide us as we’ve sought his face and his wisdom. God bless you as you seek him. So glad I visited today from Be Not Weary.

  23. tulip says

    Very true! This has effected my life recently in my preschool. So many people think that the newest information and experts will help them instantly solve the problems they are having with their children. Only God can do that. Patience is the key to God’s way of parenting. Thanks for sharing at Mom’s Library!

    • Jenni says

      It is so tempting to look for a quick fix to everything, isn’t it? You are so right about patience. It is something I pray for daily!

  24. Karla Porter Archer says

    Fortunately, when my oldest was born, we lived in a very small town, and while it had a library, the Parenting books selection was very limited.
    I have since become very grateful for that limited selection.

  25. Dee @ Start Dreaming says

    So did you finish throwing them out now? Hehehe…

    I remember with our first baby pouring over parenting books. I wanted to be prepared. Baby came and nothing, I mean NOTHING, went like those books said. I don’t remember if I got rid of them with the newborn or later but when baby number 2 came along I had no books in sight. Hehehe…

    Great post and awesome reminder to keep us all focused on where the important information comes from.
    Take care,
    Dee

  26. Pamela says

    It’s good to think about even though my parenting days are “over.” I’m still a voracious reader, just the subject has changed. And I still need to be sure I go to God first, then have Him lead me to the books that will give me wisdom. You speak with kindness, yet certainty in God’s leading. Blessings as you seek His parenting advice.
    Pamela recently posted..Picnic Under the Sheltering TreeMy Profile

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