The Parenting Book by Nicky and Sila Lee comes from a couple, (pictured on the back), who according to the blurb are on the staff of HTB. It’s published by Alpha International and runs to 534 pages. However, don’t let any of that put you off. This book has far more to commend it than to condemn it.
The format of the book is mixed, it contains some straight forward, sensible advice; some quotes from parents and children; some quite amusing cartoons by Charlie Mackesy and a generous helping of advice from other people’s parenting books. At times, near the beginning of the book, this mixed approach felt like it was leading to sensory overload but by the second section I’d gotten used to it.
The book is culturally specific and has to be understood within the context in which it was constructed. By that I mean you have to get that this is an educated, upper middle class, professional couple from West London writing a book about parenting in the UK in the early 21st century. Thus, the book is v. PC for the most part seeking to be awfully inclusive, (regularly inserting illustrations from single parent families for example). However, it is a very middle class book. There is quite a bit of talk of AS/ A Levels, saving for gap years and so forth but no mention of voccational qualifications or kids managing their EMA to just get by. To be honest it was all v. yummy mummy in places, (this profile I found of the Lees may explain why). Yet and here’s the thing they were being careful to try and not fall into this trap and were clearly aiming to make it an inclusive book.
The positive side of the book and what I loved about it, and why I think books by English Christians read better on practical issues than American ones is there was a complete lack of BS going on. It talked about real family issues and said it like it is. This means there is an acknowledgement that your teenagers will want to drink underage, will try to obtain fake ID, may get pregnant as a result of a drunken one night stand, will be offered drugs and so forth. Section 4 on making good choices was particularly good. One thing that did get me a bit, and I understand on why it was how it was related to a section within the sex and sexuality part. They, briefly, touched upon same sex attraction. Now within this they were stuck in a position of wanting to be realistic but also coming from a particular part of the church. Thus they didn’t want to condemn but neither did they want to approve. The result was two rather unsatisfactory paragraphs which included the advice not to leave them alone with people a couple of years older who may feel the same way. The message, whilst in someways sensible, was not given in regard to heterosexual relationships. The message coming through was that gay people a couple of years older may be predatory or may manage to pursuade your teenager, who will obviously just be confused, that they really are gay. All that said I know exactly why those two paragraphs were as they were, and actually applaud the authors for putting them in at all.
At the end of the book the PC attitude also slipped away as they go onto the transmission of faith and ideas. It got explicitly Christian. This was no bad thing on one level; building a childs spiritual life is important. However, it would have been more in keeping with the spirit of the book, and it’s attempts to be for a wider market than just Christians if they had been a tad more multi-faith in their approach. They had touched on Judaism earlier in the book, but there was no mention of Islam or any other faiths.
Not all chapters will be of equal use to all parents. It is definately a dip in and out at regular intervals type book, to be kept on the shelf to be consulted when required. Different bits of the book will be more useful at differnet times, according to the age of your children and issues being faced.
This You Tube clip, advertising a conference they were doing in Malysia, explains that the parenting course may well be out soon and also outlines the marriage and marriage preperation courses which they do which are already available.
*Note again these are the reflections of the parent on the book rather than the academic who was reading it from a different perspective*