How does a family stay unified in the hectic lifestyle which most of us choose to live?
In The Connected Family, David and Claudia Arp, founders of Marriage Alive International, offer a variety of suggestions to connect. They base the book on seven principles that research and common sense have found in strong families. These principles include spending time together, encouragement, communication, handling stress, working together, worshipping together, and playing together. The authors deal with each principle in its own chapter and include projects that the family can do together. The final chapter includes an excellent section on enjoying your family. The book concludes with resources offered by the Arps, information about their organization, and pages to record your successes.
The Arps recommend a "consultant-facilitator" style of parenting which becomes obvious in some of their advice:
• "Don't give unsolicited advice." (30)
• "Leave advice, lectures, and value judgments in the other room...." (30)
• "Too often, it seems, parents talk to their children with particular goals in mind. Or they talk in order to give advice." (34)
How are parents supposed to guide and teach the children? The Arps don't say how to help the children deal with problems, such as school bullies. They smile upon cajoling a five year old who holds the family hostage on a family outing in order to get his own way. When the child accuses the parents of not loving him because they won't give in, they offer no rebuke. The important thing is to make everybody feel good, rather than to teach the child to do well.
However, they offer some good ideas, such as the remembrance game for times of transition, keeping a meltdown diary, and an excellent section on prayer in the chapter on spiritual well-being. Unfortunately the chapter on spiritual well-being lacks anything on teaching the Bible. Watching your child's favorite TV show with him may be a good idea, but does it really foster spiritual well-being as the chapter title suggests?
One final problem I have with the book is the artwork. It looks like Jenny and Jerry Have Two Daddies. You have to look a second time to figure which character is the mother.
Instead of the father's being the leader and trainer God ordains, the Arps' version turns him into a wimpy director of the egalitarian boardroom. Abdicating the biblical guidance, protection, and authority children need in a father, he becomes the family "consultant" and "facilitator" rather than a driving force in his children's lives. One of the weaknesses in today's families is the father who's too nice to be necessary. -- Debbie W. Wilson, Christian Book Previews.com
If advances in technology could improve communication within families, shouldn't we be the most connected generation in history? Yet, as we know, staying close requires more effort than ever.
Trusted advisors David and Claudia Arp come to the rescue with a multitude of fun and easy ideas to help strengthen family relationships.
Among the relevant topics addressed: overcoming over-commitment, taking control of media, purposefully pursuing the positive in one another, developing the habit of thankfulness, and promoting spiritual growth.
The smorgasbord of suggested activities includes such tantalizing possibilities as mystery vacations, treasure hunt dinners, making family notebooks, and baking Aggression Cookies.
This highly practical book is for families looking for light-hearted ways to strengthen their bond of love.