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Customer Review

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intentional Mothering, March 20, 2011
This review is from: Regret Free Parenting: Raise Good Kids and Know You're Doing It Right (Paperback)
What first drew me to Catherine Hickem's book was the title: Regret Free Parenting: Raise Good Kids and Know You're Doing it Right. Now, I'm a conscientious parent. I take my mom job pretty seriously, hence the parenting book selection. But "regret free"? I wasn't so sure about that!

Early on, Hickem writes: "being an intentional mom and a regret-free parent means you spend good time being intentional about yourself, your role as a mom, and your understanding of yourself." And that is essentially what the book is about: intentional mothering. The book explores seven principles: being intentional about understanding your purpose, knowing and affirming your child, being a vision keeper, developing emotional intelligence, maintaining your position, addressing your fears, and being God-dependent.

These principles were the real meat of the book and I appreciated the process of evaluating my own intentionality in each area. In fact, each chapter has a section in the back with questions and application points that would be great for personal journaling or a group study. Included in the back of the book are also resources to outline your own parenting plan, a link to Intentional Moms (the organization Catherine Hickem founded), and a list of books and even movies that would be helpful.

Hickem is a thoughtful writer whose therapeutic background is evident. A number of her points resonated with me. She stresses that motherhood isn't just about the development of your children, but also about YOU and who you will become while you are mothering. She encourages readers to carefully evaluate their own fears and insecurities, striving to be emotionally mature in order to raise well-adjusted kids. As a a parent with kids moving into their teens, I really appreciated the chapter reassuringly titled: "You Can Live Peacefully in the Teenage Years". I very much liked the emphasis on "being" instead of "doing" and thought it was poignant to remind parents that their teens shouldn't be defined by one moment in time. In fact, I found myself underlining a lot of sound advice!

While I appreciated and agreed with a great deal of Hickem's material, two things in particular didn't sit well for me. One is that fathers are pretty much glazed over. In all fairness, the back jacket does mention "mom" right off the bat, and it is a book about MOTHERING, but the optimal model for raising kids would include two parents. Page seventeen clearly says that mom sets the examples and dad follows along. I know that's how it is in many households, but I'm not sure that's how it should be. And still in other homes, how would intentional parenting play out when mom is not the primary caregiver? Considering the weight of raising kids, all of the responsibility and intention should not be shouldered by one parent alone. I would liked to have seen a more complete picture.

The other thing, for me, is that I just can't get over the assumption that intentionality will eliminate regret. Hickem says mistakes and regrets are two different things, and I agree. But I still think regret is possible when imperfect people are involved. Even great intentions sometimes still miss the mark. A conscientious parent will always be evaluating their choices. Parenting decisions so often push into gray areas where the answer is not always black and white. And confidence isn't necessarily the cure. Hickem herself says that we can easily be confidently deceived. I am raising great kids, by God's grace, but there will always be the ache of wondering what I could have done better. That inadequacy leads me to regret, but the paradox is that it also keeps me dependent on God.

I do tip my hat to Hickem for mentioning parents of children with special needs. Parenting books are great, but those of us with special kids read them a little bit differently. Her book isn't specifically geared to kids with special needs, and the mention of them was relatively short, but I still give her kudos for remembering that we're out here! Much of her material can be easily translated to cover all kinds of kids, so I was able to read and learn from the book on behalf of my special needs guy as well as his typical sibs.

The book also speaks to a range of parents. It's an excellent read for newbies. (In fact, I wish I had been coached by books like this early on so that I could have been intentionally working out my own issues BEFORE doing it alongside of raising my kids.) I's also a good read for parents of grade schoolers and teens to help us through those difficult years to "keep the vision". Those with adult children may not find much here (a little in the conclusion), but there is mention of Hickem having material for a future book on that topic.

Overall, Regret Free Parenting was a smooth read that generated a lot of thought. I'll be keeping it as a standard in my parenting book collection and be recommending it to other moms!

*** I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own! ***
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Location: Pittsburgh, PA United States

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