Among the greatest challenges in my life is the journey of parenting. My husband and I want to be loving, encouraging, and Christ-centered. We also know correction, training, and discipline are necessary. Tension rises when imbalances emerge among these various aspects of parenting. With a plan, the tension decreases.
My friend, Shelly Wildman, has written a book to help moms and dads parent intentionally.
First Ask Why is a new tool that should be on every parent’s shelf. It pushes us to examine why we do the things we do. Using personal stories from her childhood as well as from raising her own children, Shelly provides a biblically-based framework to establish priorities and milestones. When we better grasp the why, intentionality increases.
The chapters of First Ask Why flow easily one to the next. Shelly’s gentle and encouraging style emerges through thoughtful stories, biblical narratives, and reflective end-of-chapter questions. First Ask Why offers the hows and whys for teaching our children to serve others, be good stewards, exude kindness, be truthful, and embrace discipline. It’s a valuable resource for both new parents and parents of teens.
Shelly joins us today with some Q & A about her book:
Writing about parenting can be a powder keg—people have pretty strong opinions about raising kids. Why did you choose to write a parenting book?
Shelly: I kind of feel like I didn’t choose to write a parenting book, but that the book chose me. I fought writing it for a long time because I knew I wasn’t a perfect parent—I had messed up so many times that I didn’t feel qualified to write this book. I still don’t. But the idea kept nagging at me for so long that I finally felt like God might have been pushing me to do it.
I have three adult daughters now, and my hope is, now that my husband and I have raised them, that they will go out into the world and make a difference. And should they have children someday, that they would also make disciples of their kids. Instilling a Christ-following legacy is important work—I believe it’s THE most important work parents can do—and we’ve got to be intentional about it.
What makes your book different from other parenting books?
Shelly: So many parenting books are “how-to” books. They seem to say, “Just follow these ten steps and here’s what you’ll get in the end.” But I don’t believe we can parent by formula. I think we have to look at our unique family and ask why.
Why are we doing what we’re doing as a family? Why are we emphasizing these spiritual values? And are there others we should consider?
Asking why gets to the heart of the matter; it exposes our motivations and desires for our family. Asking why leads to intentionality. And asking why helps give our children a sense of purpose as we lead them.
What was your lowest parenting moment?
Shelly: I think my lowest moments were the times I let my daughters down. When I betrayed their trust by sharing too much with others. Or when I didn’t fulfill a promise I had made. Parents can feel their kids’ disappointment, which hurts so much. But more than that, too many disappointments lead to mistrust or a lack of respect, and I never wanted that to happen.
That said, parents are human. We do mess up. We do let our kids down. And those are the times we have to humble ourselves with our kids and apologize, sincerely. We need to let our kids know that we don’t always do things perfectly or say the right things or even parent correctly. But that we need grace and the help of God as much as they do.
Who do you hope will read this book and what do you hope they will gain?
Shelly: I hope parents with kids of all ages will read this book, but especially parents of younger children. I hope grandparents will read this book. And I hope it sparks lots of discussion between husbands and wives, moms groups, or even small groups in churches.
My hope is that parents will come away from reading this book with a stronger sense of their purpose as parents and that they might gain a couple of new ideas that they can implement in their own family. I also hope people will read the last chapter very carefully and prayerfully. The last chapter of the book is on letting go, and it’s a concept that I think is becoming lost a little bit today. It’s so hard, but it’s so important, even when your children are young, to start thinking about letting go. We’ve got to be parents who demonstrate faith in God’s sovereign work in the lives of our children.
Shelly Wildman is a former writing instructor and author of the forthcoming book First Ask Why: Raising Kids to Love God Through Intentional Discipleship (Kregel). Shelly holds degrees from Wheaton College (BA) and University of Illinois at Chicago (MA), but her most important life’s work has been raising her three adult daughters. She and her husband, Brian have been married for 32 years and live in Wheaton, IL. Shelly speaks to women’s groups in the Chicago area and spends much of her free time mentoring young women. When she has time, she loves to cook, read, and travel.
Connect with Shelly at her website or on Instagram and Facebook. Order First Ask Why at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Kregel.com.
Posted by Sharon R Hoover