Thursday, July 11, 2013

Review: The Christian Mama's Guide to Parenting a Toddler by Erin MacPherson

I've been a mom for 18 years ... well, in a month my oldest child will turn 18.  I've raised 7 kids beyond toddlerhood, have one currently 2, as well as a baby yet to hit the toddler years. I may not have learned anything new about toddlers in The Christian Mama's Guide to Parenting a Toddler, but I enjoyed the humorous approach that Erin MacPherson takes in writing about parenting toddlers.  The subtitle of the book is "everything you need to know to survive (and love) your child's terrible twos", and Erin does keep a positive (but honest) perspective on the toddler years.

My current 2 year old  is a bundle of energy, creativity, emotions, curiosity, and independent stubbornness.  She's particular, smart, and determined to be heard in this large family.  She makes us laugh, melts our hearts, and makes us pull out our hair.  She knows exactly how she wants her day to go, and her food to be prepared - until she changes her mind at the last second, and then sometimes changes it again.  She has to do it herself, go first on the stairs, help you with everything you're doing, and count down the food cooking in the microwave.  "2, 9, 3, 4, 2, 3, 9, 10, 2, 3, 9, 4! DO-ONE!"  By the way, it's not done until she says it's done.  If you take it out before she says "DO-ONE," she'll demand you cook it again.  Whether or not you choose to cook it again, or deal with the tears that ensues from not doing it again depends on your emotional stamina at that particular moment. If you just pretend to cook it again, she will know the difference.

Having such a terrific toddler is the reason I REALLY appreciate Erin's humorous and spiritual approach to writing about parenting.  Not only does she help me laugh about the rough moments, she reminds me I am not alone, helps me to rejoice in this gift from God, and points me to God for wisdom and strength.  I needed to smile and laugh about toddlers, as I'm raising a challenging 2 year old along with 8 other kids.  I also needed some reminders about parenting tips and tricks I've known but have forgotten to try lately, and I needed reassurance that I'm doing an okay job of parenting through this difficult stage.  Even as an experienced Mom, I have enjoyed every single one of Erin's Christian Mama's Guide books for those reasons. Being a mom is hard, but so worthwhile, and Erin's books don't gloss over either one of those truths.

I love that Erin includes a chapter for the Dads, a chapter for working moms, and a chapter for stay-at-home moms in The Christian Mama's Guide to Parenting Toddlers.  She also has dedicated an entire (very funny) chapter to date nights, which reminded me of two things - why I need to plan date nights, and why it feels so overwhelming to plan a date night. 

Her potty training chapter reassured me that I am not the only one whose kids train more on the late side than the early side, and I'm not the only one surrounded by early trainers.  It also assured me that waiting until my daughter is cooperative and I am emotionally strong and patient enough is the RIGHT decision. (Having been previously shell-shocked by trying to train before my child was ready is probably the reason I'm always reluctant to start potty training.  I KNOW the battle ahead of me and I need to be sure I'm ready for it before I begin.) 

Finally, Erin's epilogue reminded me to treasure each moment and each age, not to wish these toddler days away.  I've already graduated one daughter, and I know that it doesn't feel like 18 years just passed by.  It will go just as fast for this spitfire-of-a-toddler, too.

I can not recommend Erin MacPherson's Christian Mama's Guide books enough.  These are not uber-detailed medical books, they aren't full of statistics and research reports.  But they are heart-felt, faith-filled, written from experience, humorous, and encouraging.  Erin does a good job of presenting all the information available out there in a fairly balanced way.  Co-sleeping, non-vaccinating parents may not feel they are well-represented in this book, but I promise you will feel enough encouragement in other areas to excuse the slight. It would probably be best to have Erin's book and one of the more medical statistic-filled books (of your particular parenting style), too.  Then you'll have a plethora of information in one hand, and an encouraging Christian parenting synopsis in the other. 

This book was published by Thomas Nelson and provided to me free, for review purposes, by Booksneeze. No other compensation was given, and these thoughts are my own, honest opinion.

April E.

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