In Things I Wish I’d Known before We Became Parents, Gary Chapman and Shannon Warden use their professional and personal experience to examine the many aspects of parenting that parents-to-be should consider. The main thesis is that in addition to the joys and thrills of parenting, there are also a number of issues that couples should work through together before their little ones come along so that informed choices can be made ahead of time. Although the book is fairly short, the material covers a handful of imminent issues that needs to be addressed early on ranging from physical needs (e.g. potty training) to emotional and social development. With their extensive experience and knowledge in clinical psychology, the authors provide a succinct collection of tips that may prove helpful to young parents. For example, Chapman’s five languages of apology can be a useful method to encourage children and parents to express forgiveness and work towards reconciliation. Moreover, the authors divulge the parenting struggles with their own children highlighting what has or has not worked in their homes. At the end of each chapter, there are extensive discussion questions for couples to reflect on the material and work on together.
One point that I suggest for Christian readers is to complement this book with another parenting book that focuses on the theology of parenting. Besides learning about techniques and methods, parents need to formulate a theological framework which informs their decisions and actions as primary influencers of their children especially at an early age. This is not to say that I do not appreciate the advice that the authors provide as I do find many of the ideas fairly intriguing. However, how we implement these parenting guidelines is not merely a matter of preference but is firmly based on our theological convictions. Without a parenting approach that is grounded in the gospel, we are relegated to behaviour modification that does not ultimately meet the greatest need of our children which is their need for a Saviour.
I recommend this book to all parents-to-be and even to parents with children already as the material is applicable to children of all ages. Naturally, the topics skew towards the early childhood years as the intended audience are those looking for guidance before children arrive. As a whole, the suggestions are pragmatic so readers will find the suggestions to be useful to their everyday parenting tasks. The authors emphasize that the stress of parenting can be alleviated with proper planning, patience, and perseverance. Also, Chapman and Warden remind parents that the years of rearing young children will pass by quickly so we should savour the precious experiences and memories that we create and share with our children every day.
In compliance with Federal Trade Commission guidelines, I received a review copy from Moody Press in exchange for a book review.