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Never Say No: Raising Big-Picture Kids Paperback – May 1, 2015
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When I saw the title Never Say No: Raising Big Picture Kids, I thought, “Oh, great. A book about child-centered parenting, where the kids run the home.” But then I saw it was written by Mark and Jan Foreman, who are parents of Jon and Tim Foreman, of the Christian band Switchfoot. I don’t know if you know who they are, but they are the band behind the songs “This is Your Life,” “This is Home,” “Only Hope,” “Dare You to Move,” “Meant to Live” and more. They’ve been one of my favorite groups for a few years. That had me interested, so I signed up for this blog tour.
I have to say first of all that this isn’t a “fast food” type of book. It’s more like a full 6 course meal! There’s a lot of information to digest, so you shouldn’t try to get through it in one quick sitting.
You can really tell that they both love the Lord so much and they both love their boys fiercely. They don’t claim to be perfect parents. Many mistakes were made in their parenting adventure. But the mistakes they made, as well as the successes they had, can help all other parents with their own child-raising.
There’s something neat about reading words from the parents of favorites. I have always admired Switchfoot’s use of weaving the relevant, the deep and the “cool” all at once. I see now where the guys get it from. :) The book is really well written. I like how they indclude stories of their boys’ childhood, and stories of their own lives, in each chapter. The book’s like a mix of a parenting help book, a memoir and a devotional. There were so many parts that I had to highlight because they were so good, that I was unable to choose just a few for this review.
I would suggest that every parent go out and get this book, or download an e-version. There is so much wisdom and love within the pages. I was truly blessed by reading it, and I know my children will be equally blessed because of the change in me. It’s one to buy for someone as a baby shower gift. The new parents probably won’t realize the relevance at first, but once you read through it, it’s pretty obvious that the wise advice is good from birth and beyond.
"Never say no" sounds like the flippant answer of a permissive or over-indulgent parent. But that's not at all what the Foremans convey. They "hope to move beyond reactionary noes to proactive yeses. Behavior often takes care of itself when we focus on having a healthy relationship." Mark had a epiphany when he sensed God saying to him, "I enjoy you." That realization shaped his relationship with God and with his children. Enjoying children in play, communication, and shared experiences lays a foundation of relationship and character shaping.
As parents, our modeling behavior and reactions to our children's behavior communicate much more to our children than any spoken messages or verbal instruction and correction. The Foremans write that children are watching; the easiest way to influence our children to live a particular lifestyle is to live that lifestyle ourselves.
The Foremans also talk about creating an environment that fosters creative thinking, independence, and interaction with culture. With very little exposure to TV during their formative years, and lots of unstructured play, the Foreman boys explored their world. The Foremans did not want their boys to succumb to "naturedeficit disorder," the indoor lifestyle that can lead to "increased depression, anxiety, and attention problems," not to mention obesity.
I don't remember the Foremans mentioning home schooling. In fact, they write very little about school at all. But much of their attitude and specific guidance reminds me of books I've read about home schooling and unschooling. They emphasize reading books from the classics to modern literature, keeping up with and discussing current events, traveling with an aim toward learning about history, architecture, and life in other cultures, frequenting museums and cultural events, listening to and playing a variety of music, all of which fit in a homeschooling model (and are easier to do when a family isn't shackled by the rigors of a school schedule).
The Foremans' bottom line is enjoy your kids, give them an environment in which they can learn and grow, and model for them the character and values you want to see in them. Be prepared to look for opportunities to say yes, and you will find yourself saying no less and less. The Foremans have encouraged and inspired me as a parent. Hopefully my kids won't be hearing "No!" from me (at least not very much!).
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!