Book Review: Connecting with Your Kids

As a father of 3 daughters, ages 11, 9, and 6, I jumped on the opportunity to review “Connecting with Your Kids, How Fast Families can Move from Chaos to Closeness” by Timothy Smith, when the Mind and Media site solicited for reviewers. The book arrived a couple weeks before our big family vacation to Disney World in Orlando so I figured the 8 hour day of flying would be perfect for me to continue reading through the book and discussing it with my 11 year old daughter who was flying with me while my wife took my two other daughters on another flight.

The book starts off asking 8 questions starting with “When was the last time…” and then continuing with “You saw a child climbing on the wooden play set in her backyard?”, “You had dinner as a family?” and more. I sometimes feel my life is very busy and out of control, but I actually was able to have answers within a couple of days for 6 out of the 8 questions and realized I am probably still doing things right. You see, I grew up in the 70s and 80s in very small rural towns where my brother, cousins, and I would disappear out in the woods exploring all day long and were rarely spotted inside watching TV. I try to encourage my girls to go outside and just “play” rather than always be inside playing video games, doing homework, or watching TV. I am a strong believer that children need to be encouraged to be children as long as they can and enjoy life before the pressures and responsiblities of adulthood take over. I also vowed that my family would eat dinner every night together and take this time to discuss the days adventures. We have a routine where each person goes around and tells about their “highs” and “lows” for the day and then the person that shares gets to select the next person to share. We have stuck to this plan since our girls were born and I feel that this helps keep the lines of communication open and provides a great forum for sharing our joys and pains.

While at first it may seem like we have it together, I still think there are areas that need improvement which is why I was excited to dive into this book. With 3 girls who play sports, participate in Girl Scouts, play musical instruments, attend church functions, and more we do stay quite busy and at times it seems we are reeling out of control and hardly get a moment to just sit and rest. My wife is the type who always has to be doing something and is a great multitasker, but I need her to just sit and relax for a while every day or I get stressed out.

The book starts by describing typical families of today and what their lives may look like. The author also seeks to answer the question of why we are constantly on the go. The book then helps you figure out your pulse, followed by defining your family’s heartprints. Timothy describes four heartprints for people; cruiser, walker, runner, and biathlete. My wife is definitely a runner, my oldest seems to be a walker, my middle daughter and me are cruisers, and my youngest is a biathlete. Each also has some characteristics of the other heartprints. I found this section particularly interesting as it opened my eyes up a bit to each person’s characteristics and attitudes about life. Timothy has sections on how to parent each of these heartprints. The final section of the book describes how to make your particular family’s heartprint work for you.

There are parent-to-parent and parent-to-child questions at the end of each chapter that are wonderful questions to pose at the dinner table or in quiet times when talking with your children. My oldest daughter and I covered quite a few on our plane rides and I found them quite helpful in getting to the heart of the matter. Biblical references are presented throughout the book that verify the validity and foundation of the techniques and guidance provided in the book and were a very welcome addition. The author isn’t suggesting we give up all our activities and sit around in front of the TV, but we do need to figure out the optimal activity level for our families so we do not get overstressed and miss out on the best years of our lives together.

I also found the Appendix to be helpful with “Hang Time” suggestions for different age groups, the Heartprint Quadrant, Heartprint Echocardiograms, and If/Then Heartprints Chart.

If you are a parent then I HIGHLY recommend you read this book and start applying it to your family. Your children and you will be blessed by taking the time to rest in the presence of the Lord and communicate openly with each other.

My goal now is to get my wife to read this book, especially the Mom Chargers section because she doesn’t like to sit or see any of the rest of us just sitting and relaxing from time to time. I worry for her health and the example she is setting for our daughters who may think they have to always be on the go like my wife when they get older. I yearn for the days when I was growing up when all the stores were closed on Sunday and the day was seen as a day for families to go to church, hang out together, relax and recharge for the coming week.

This book was provided free to review as part of the Mind and Media review program.

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