8 Parenting Books You Need to Own (and Read)

I read quite a lot. I am one of those oddballs who, when I start a book, I am going to finish it. It doesn’t matter how bad the book is, or how long it takes me to read it, I am going to fight my way through. Each year, I strive to read a large number of books. This year, my goal is 61 (60, plus the Bible). [By the way, if you'd like to follow my progress, follow this Pinterest board.]

Over the years, I have come across several parenting books that I really like. While I may not agree with every word in each of these volumes, they have helped me in various ways. Here are 8 that I think you would benefit from (in no particular order).

1. Game Plan by Joe Wells. While this book is primarily aimed at teenagers and their parents, this is a great volume to read before the teen years set in. Joe sets up strategies for confronting our modern, anti-God culture in a very straightforward manner. Get this book on your Kindle for just $9.99.

 

2. Plugged-In Parenting by Bob Waliszewski. Whether we want to believe it or not, the media plays a huge role in the lives of our children. This book, by the director of Focus on the Family’s “Plugged In” group, provides parents with knowledge and resources to help their children make wise decisions. This is not a “turn off all the media” kind of book. Instead, it is honest and wise. You may not agree with every conclusion, but this book will make you think. This volume is also just $9.99 on Kindle.

3. Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters by Dr. Meg Meeker. If you have a daughter, dads, you simply must read this book. It is a fairly quick read, but it will really make you consider strongly the power of your role in the life of your girl, no matter her age. This book does a great job of not browbeating dads who might not be living up to the standard they know they should, but encouraging them to step up and build up their girls. Just $8.44 on Kindle.

4. Headed to the Office by Glenn Colley. Aimed at teenage boys, I think parents need to read this book. This book takes the qualifications of elders and applies them to the lives of our young men, trying to instill in them an aspiration to be all that God would want them to be. It is designed for a classroom setting, but makes a great read for anyone interested in young men. I think parents would benefit greatly. This quick read is only $5.95 on Kindle.

5. Bringing Up Boys by Dr. James Dobson***. The longest book on our list, this volume is also one of the most well-researched. Dobson, of Focus on the Family fame, writes about nearly any aspect of raising a young man that you can think of. This book will contain some things you do not agree with, I’m sure, but you will also find it to be a very good “survey-style” read for your library. You will probably find yourself coming back to certain chapters several times. The chapter on homosexuality alone is worth your time. Kindle saves you a lot on this long book, as it is just $8.63.

6. Raising Real Men by Hal and Melanie Young. I really like this book for its brevity as well as its straightforward approach. This volume celebrates young men and shows that their “energy” and other qualities should be harnessed for good. This is a very practical book with good suggestions. If you homeschool, you will find some of the sections more practical than those who do not, but every parent can glean from this work. Just $9.99 on Kindle.

7. Daddy Dates by Greg Wright. This short book is so powerful. For dads of girls, this book will take you just a couple of hours to read, but could change how you spend your time with your daughter. I am not as regular with my “dates” with Mary Carol as I should be, but I’m not sure I would have had any had it not been for this book. The volume shares how one man used these dates as a way to win the hearts of his four girls. It will help you demonstrate real manhood before your daughter. It is just $6.80 on Kindle.

8. Raising Boys by Design by Gregory L. Jantz and Michael Gurian. A very unique book, this volume combines Biblical truth with brain science. It talks about how boys are wired, and does more than speak in general terms; instead, sharing the science behind why boys react in certain ways. While you may have trouble with some of the medical jargon, don’t let that keep you away from this book. I rarely mark in my books, and this volume has quite a number of stars and underlines. This book, released in late 2013, is still just $7.99 on Kindle.

***Dobson has also written Bringing Up Girls, but I have not read that volume yet. I hope to soon.

QUESTION: What did we miss? What are other parenting books you would recommend? Leave you suggestions in the comments!

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Friday’s Family Friendly Finds {March 7, 2014 edition}

Family Friendly Finds

What a week! We had so many things going on that it seems like it was just a few hours ago that we were posting our last Friday Finds post. Whew! This week was defined by crazy weather, a video recording session, and our second-most popular post of all time.

Oh, and we announced the release of an upcoming book, too. Anybody else ready for a long late-winter’s nap before we “spring forward?”

This Week’s Finds

How to Raise a Reader [Common Sense Media]

Marital Alzheimer’s [Life and Favor]

10 Common Mistakes Parents Today Make (Me Included) [Kari Kampakis]

Teaching Our Children the Joy of Serving Others [for the family]

Discovery Park of America: A Great Family Trip [Life in the Kingdom]

DIY Prayer Board [We are THAT Family]

Family Tweet of the Week


Our Week in Review

Not all these posts were written in the last week, but these are the five most-viewed posts in the last seven days.

#5: When I Learned How Much a Daughter Needs Her Daddy (This post was originally written in July of 2013, but our #1 post for this week led so many people to it that it ranks #5 this week!)

#4: How to Lead Your Family in Home Devotionals

#3: Big News: Video Summer Series!

#2: Video Summer Series Update: Recording is Done

#1: Dressing Our Daughter for Who We Want Her to Be [Note: This post is well on its way to being our most viewed post of all time. Thank you!]

What Did We Miss?

What family links, tweets, or videos did we miss this week? Contact us with links you’d like us to consider for future Friday’s Family Friendly Finds! You can also contact us if you are interested in writing a guest post for our site. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Hymns of the Heart: Discovering God in the Psalms

I love the Psalms. The longer I live and the more experiences I have, I am drawn more and more to this treasure chest of the Old Testament. On Sunday nights this year, I am preaching from the psalms. The difficulty is choosing which ones to leave out, since each one is a blessing.

hymns of the heart cover

And today, I am honored to share with you our upcoming book, Hymns of the Heart: Discovering God in the Psalms. Utilizing much of my sermon material, we are sharing essays on 35 of the psalms in a text that is meant to bring you closer not just to the book of Psalms, but to the God who is found there. These are not sermon outlines, but are essays based upon my sermons. We believe that every Christian can benefit from these 35 essays.

We are also honored that Start2Finish books has agreed to publish this book for us. Michael Whitworth does a great work at Start2Finish, and we are grateful for his help in getting this project off the ground.

Our plan is to release Hymns of the Heart as a series of eBooks, with a full paperback to follow (likely in late 2014 or very early 2015). There will be a total of 7 eBooks released in the coming months. You can order any or all of them.

Here is our “launch special” for you, though. The first eBook is to be released on March 25, 2014. If you preorder the series of eBooks, the cost is just $9.99, and you will automatically get each of the seven eBooks when they are released at no additional cost. Yes, you will get all 7 eBooks for a total of $9.99. If at any time during the releases you are not happy, you can cancel and we’ll refund your purchase price. Keep in mind that, after the release of each eBook in the series, the price will increase, so by preordering you can save on your purchase of the entire series.

Also, if you are willing to preorder the eBooks, you can choose to get the paperback when it is released at a discount of 40%. You do not have to get the paperback, but you will have the option to get this discount if you help us with the launch special.

We are looking forward to continuing this project, and our prayer is that it is a great encouragement to you as you seek to discover God through this great book of Psalms.

To learn more, or to order, visit Start2Finish book’s page here.

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Video Summer Series Update: Recording is Done

Sometime ago, we told you about the Video Summer Series: “Building Godly Families.” If you are not familiar with this great work, take a moment and read the post here.

families

We are pleased today to let you know that all 10 lessons in the series have been recorded. On Monday and Tuesday of this week, all the speakers came to the Lebanon Road church building and recorded wonderful lessons. Gospel Broadcasting Network sent a great crew to help, and they did a very professional job in the recording.

Today, we want to let you know not just the speakers, but their topics, and we have quite a few pictures of the recording days for you to enjoy.

Our speakers are:

Steve Higginbotham (“Jesus: The Foundation of Every Home”)

Josh Ketchum (“Before You Marry…”)

Glenn Colley (“Husbands, Love Your Wives”)

Bryan McAlister (“A Godly Wife”)

Andy Kizer (“Raising Godly Children”)

Jerrie Barber (“Having a Godly Fuss”)

Adam Faughn (“Family Finances and Honoring God”)

Ted Burleson (“Dealing with Divorce”)

Jim Faughn (“The Sandwich Generation”)

Keith Parker (“Your Family Can be Light”)

If you are interested in using the Video Summer Series, remember that these videos are going to be available absolutely free for your congregation to use. Simply download and show the videos and you have a ready-made series on the family. Visit and bookmark the website, and the videos and supplementary material should be ready by May 1. For more information about the series, feel free to contact us! Remember, you don’t have to use this as a summer series, so think of how these 10 videos could have the best impact on your congregation and community!

I have one personal request: if your congregation is even considering using the series, would you either leave a comment on this post or contact us? We would appreciate the feedback, whether public or private.

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Dressing Our Daughter for Who We Want Her to Be

She is eight years of age, and probably at least once every day, I call her “precious.” God placed her into our care in a very special way, and it is our job to see that we aim this arrow from our small quiver on a straight trajectory toward heaven.

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That aiming includes trying to build a work ethic into her. It includes attempting to teach her not only Scripture, but the Author of those words. It includes teaching her healthy boundaries. It includes countless other things that we will try to instill in her.

We want to model the right behavior before her each day. We fail often, but we get up and try again. Someday, though, she’ll have to stand on her own. So, we try to put every influence around her we can that points her toward what we want her to be: a faithful, sweet, loving Christian lady.

That includes her clothes.

I know that goes against modern thinking, but we try to dress her in such a way that expresses who we want her to be. I’m not talking about brand names or even certain styles.

Instead, we are simply talking about modest or immodest clothes.

She is only 8, but she is quite tall for her age. As such, it is getting less often that we can buy “little girl” clothes. We are fast headed toward “tween-dom,” and if you are trying to purchase modest clothes, that’s a scary phase.

Just walk down the aisles sometime and notice the clothes that are placed there for girls who are around 9 or 10 years of age. You’ll find strapless shirts. You’ll see shorts with words like “sexy” across the behind. Likely, you’ll see shorts that are basically nothing more than underpants, but made from different fabric. You’ll even see bras with padding.

May I ask why?

It is not just that I want my daughter to be modest. It is that I want her to learn what it means to be a lady. No girl, especially of that age, even knows what “sexy” means, but the clothes are meant to display that (and some even just say it).

What are we telling our girls? What are we wanting them to be? How can we even remotely think that this doesn’t affect their thinking about themselves?

We are putting our girls–some younger than my daughter–in clothing that would, quite frankly, only be “appropriate” on certain street corners in shady parts of town, and then we are telling them that they are more than just their bodies. Really?

Parents, it’s time we had a vision for who we want our daughters to be, and it’s time we cast that vision across every area of her life. That includes her clothes!

My daughter is a child of God Almighty.

She is His special creation.

Somewhere she has a future husband that she will be precious and virtuous for.

She is a Faughn, and reflects our name.

One day, she will be a wife and mother (Lord willing) and trying to reign in her own children.

She is pure, innocent, sweet, and precious.

So, we try to dress her that way.

I’m certain that arguments are coming one day. I’m sure my blood pressure will rise a few times, and I’m sure Leah will cry a few times over these arguments.

But our vision for our precious treasure is Godly lady-hood, so we dress her with that vision in mind. I’m begging other parents to do the same. Dress her for who you want her to be.

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The Power of Real Conversation

A single conversation with a wise man is better than ten years of study.

–Chinese Proverb

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Our family is making a strong effort to have more people in our home this year. Often, we have people over for a meal, but it is the conversation that is what really “makes” the evening.

Just as one example, we had two ladies over last week for a meal of soup and salad. It wasn’t anything fancy, and we just used our regular plates and bowls. After the meal, though, these two sweet ladies sat and talked with Leah and I for over an hour. We talked about issues related to the Church, our families, and our nation. The conversation seemed to go everywhere, but it remained lively and enjoyable.

This isn’t another post about eating together as a family. We wrote about that last week.

This also isn’t just a post for a family. This is a post about life in general.

We need to regain the power of real, true, deep, face-to-face conversation in our lives.

One of the things that made the evening with these two Christian ladies so special was that the conversation went along uninterrupted. Oh, the kids might ask a question or need some, ahem, “attention,” but for about 60 minutes or so, we just sat and talked.

Why? We didn’t have technology in the room. Ironically, we talked about technology for a few minutes, but we talked about how it is simply a tool that can be used for either good or bad purposes. On this evening, we didn’t have a cell phone, tablet, TV, or laptop anywhere in the room. Not a single one. I heard my phone buzz in the other room a time or two, but resisted the urge to check every little notification.

The reason was simple: we wanted to show the people who were with us that they were our priority that evening. I know that checking texts or emails may not be a sign of disrespect to a lot of folks, but it is distracting. Even if you don’t mean to be disrespectful, you are distracting, and that’s rarely a positive thing in relationships.

When there are fewer distractions, you might just be amazed at how the conversation moves along and brings you closer together. It is in these moments that you will gain perspective and wisdom.

So, whether you are on a date with your spouse or simply having someone over for a meal, let’s all make the effort to rediscover the power of real, face-to-face conversation.

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Photo credit: University of Michigan on Creative Commons

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Friday’s Family Friendly Finds {February 28, 2014 edition}

Welcome to our weekly feature where we share some things we’ve found interesting during the week that should give you something to encourage your family over the weekend.

Family Friendly Finds

This Week’s Finds

How to Talk with Your Kids about Money Issues [ChristianPF]

My Wife is a Super Model [for the family] Amazing. So is mine! :)

I Think We May be Missing Something Very Important [We are THAT Family]

Ten Fun Scavenger Hunt Ideas for Your Kids [My Kids' Adventures]

The True Identity of Andy’s Mom in Toy Story Will Blow Your Mind [Jon Negroni] Okay, so this one’s just for fun, but it’s way cool!

Family Tweet of the Week

Our Week in Review

Not all these posts were written in the past week, but these are the five posts with the most views in the last week.

#5: Why We Switched to Republic Wireless and Lowered Our Phone Bill by $70 Per Month

#4: How to Lead Your Family in Home Devotionals

#3: Your Calendar and Your Family

#2: How I’m Using Google Calendar for Pretty Much Everything

#1: The Importance of the Family Table

What Did We Miss?

What family links, tweets, or videos did we miss this week? Contact us with links you’d like us to consider for future Friday’s Family Friendly Finds! You can also contact us if you are interested in writing a guest post for our site. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Thankful Thursdays {February 27, 2014 edition}

Thankful Thursdays

It’s time for another Thankful Thursday, where we simply ask for your prayer requests.

This week, we are asking for some attribute of God for which you are thankful. Part of our prayers should be that we praise God, so what is an attribute of God that you are thankful for? Share in the comments!

NOTE: The prayer for this week will be at about 9PM (Central time) this evening, so leave your comments before then, please.

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The Importance of the Family Table

If there is one word to describe our culture, it’s probably “busy.”

Our schedules are packed from morning to night, and for those of us who are Christians, we would say that the activities of the day are important. This post is not written to question whether we are doing good things. But I do want to ask one question: how often does your family gather around your table and eat together?

Our "Family Table"

Our “Family Table”

The family table is so important, and our nation has basically forgotten it. Think of a typical house on a typical evening. A regular, middle-class house probably has a dining room, but we consider it a “formal” room, so we don’t sit there for supper. Instead, we pile around the TV set and watch something.

Why? Because, on the other evenings, we are trying to line up our schedules to meet at a restaurant, and just sitting on the couch is better than nothing.

Now, I don’t think it’s necessarily wrong to watch TV while eating. We do that. Quite often, in fact. It’s also not wrong to go out to eat. It’s fun and provides a little break from routine at times.

But why do so few families regularly meet around a table in the quiet of their own home to eat a meal together? In other words, why is the “family table” a foreign concept in so many homes?

Think back to your childhood. For many of us, we could recall so many meals–and not just at holidays–around our table. We might not remember specific conversations or even specific dishes that were served, but we can remember that life happened around that table.

When we are sitting in a quiet room (not a noisy restaurant) and our eyes are on each other (not on the TV), it is amazing what happens. People open up. Questions can be asked and answered. Compliments are given for the quality of the meal, or how well one of the children set the table. Some of the best “tutoring” in math or spelling can occur when there isn’t a single worksheet to be seen, because there is real conversation going on.

All of this happens simply because we have a meal together. We aren’t talking about fancy meals, either. I think that we have used the excuse that says, “We aren’t fancy around here,” as a way to excuse not eating around the table. Leah is a wonderful cook, but there are quite a few nights when we have soup and sandwiches or I grill us each a plain chicken breast and we have a veggie or two. While she’s a wonderful cook, we don’t try for gourmet-level dishes every single evening! Instead, we eat good meals and enjoy a few quiet minutes together in conversation and, well, just the joy of eating.

It may not be supper at your house, but it may be breakfast. Whatever meal it is, take (rather, make) the time to sit down with no distractions and be together over the joy of a meal. In the next 7 days, if you will do this even 3 or 4 times, I think you’ll be amazed at the difference in tone and patience around your house.

Why?

Alignment of Schedules. Part of the reason so few families eat together is because they are, literally, too busy. But when, in the midst of that busyness, we can all align even 20 minutes for a meal, there is a unity that cannot be replaced.

All Hands On Deck. This should not just be “mom’s job” every day. The kids can help with all parts of the meal, as can dad. From preparing the food to setting the table to cleanup, this is a great way for every person in the family to play a role in getting something important done.

Fewer Distractions. Turn off the TV. Unless you are expecting an emergency call, leave the cell phones in another room. Close the blinds, if you have to. Make this about time where your whole family is “there” for each other with nothing to interrupt.

Shared Values. There is no way to put this in words properly, but eating and communicating shows that you are placing a real value on family togetherness. It doesn’t have to be a trip to Sea World that proves you put an emphasis and value on family. It could, instead, be eating some fish right in your own house!

Story. Talk at the table. Ask good questions. (This is something I need to work on.) Share memories and stories. Let life happen through the telling of tales from both that day and in “yesteryear.”

I know we are all busy, but this is truly important. Don’t get so caught up in the next game, event, club, business deal, or just being tired to miss out on a wonderful blessing that could happen in your own home. It doesn’t cost much, and it isn’t hard, but having a true family table will change your home for the better.

QUESTION: What are you some of your favorite memories or tips about the family table? Share in the comments!

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How I’m Using Google Calendar For Pretty Much Everything

Yesterday, we wrote about how our calendars should reflect our priorities. Today, I want to show you how I’m trying to live that out with one tool: Google Calendar.

I have tried nearly every possible way to keep up with my schedule. From simple pieces of paper to wall calendars, I’ve tried all sorts of things. For some time, I had played around with Google Calendar, putting one or two things on there, but not really using it fully.

Why I Like Google Calendar

In 2014, though, I am trying to use this one tool like crazy. So far, I love what I’m seeing. Before getting to some specifics of how I’m using Google Calendar, let me share why I like it.

1. Easy to Use. While Google Calendar is “feature rich,” I know a handful of features, and that’s all I really care to use. Putting in events and setting up reminders is as easy as using something like email or Facebook, and I like that.

2. Syncing. The calendar is on my laptop, my phone, and anywhere else I can check the internet or add the app. When I put an event on one device, it’s on them all.

3. Sharing. Leah and I share a calendar called “Adam and Leah” (we’re so creative). She can add events, and so can I, and we both can see them on our calendars.

4. Color-coding. I’ll talk more about this in the “how-to,” but each of my calendars (I have three) is a different color, so I can know what “area” of life this event or activity fits in at just a quick glance.

5. It’s Google. I use Google products for all sorts of things, from Gmail to our new phones, which are Android devices and, thus, sync almost effortlessly with Google. Even if you don’t use Google as heavily as I do, though, it is a trusted company and keeps support of the calendar very well.

6. Clean. I can’t stand calendar apps that are crazy complicated in their looks. Google Calendar is about as stripped-down as you can get, which I love. This helps me see what I need to see at a glance.

How I Use It

Now that I’ve shared some things about why I like Google Calendar, let me show you how to get started and how I’m using this free tool.

To do that, I’ve created the following screencast that I hope you’ll find helpful. It’s about 10 1/2 minutes long, so watch it and see what we’re doing to use Google Calendar a lot for work, home, and even at Lebanon Road!

(trouble viewing? Click here to watch on YouTube.)

Other resources

Google Calendar Tutorial 2013: Introduction and User Interface [YouTube; simple and straightforward video for folks who are brand new to Google Calendar; 10:00 in length]

5 Hidden Google Calendar Gems [YouTube; this is a great video if you want to dig a little deeper. It's how I learned how to add the sports calendars; 7:33 in length]

How to Add Google Calendar to iOs [Google support; If you use an iPhone or iPad, this can be a bit tricky, but it's worth the extra couple of steps]

Scheduling, Productivity, and Google Calendar [Kreative Knowledge; this is a long post, and includes a video, but does a great job of walking through the major features of Google Calendar.]

Above all, Google Calendar is a tool, and it needs to reflect not only what “has to get done,” but our priorities. Get a free account and think through your priorities: worship, family time, and work. Then get to putting those on the calendar and enjoy the difference being organized makes!

QUESTION: Do you use Google Calendar? What are your favorite features? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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