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Connecting with Your Kids Review by Kris Price

Timothy Smith
Bethany House Publishers
(616) 676-9185
11400 Hampshire Ave. S
Minneapolis, MN 55438

Connecting with Your Kids is subtitled "How Fast Families Can Move From Chaos to Closeness." My initial reason for wanting to read this book was that my kids are approaching their teenage years and I want to make sure we stay connected through all of that. I feel blessed that I will not have to fight public school peers for their undivided attentions in a few years. However, I know that as they grow into adulthood, they will begin to pull away from us as their individuality begins to shine through and they establish what type of adult they are going to become. I actually am looking forward to this transition from child to adult, but I want to be there for them when they need me. I want my children to feel that their parents are available to them on ALL levels.

Because I do not work outside the home, I wasn't sure we could be considered a "fast family." However, I often joke about needing to "tame the chaos" in my life and so thought the book would probably have some very insightful information, and I wasn't disappointed. I had a multitude of "aha!" moments as I saw my family in many of the examples in the book. The book begins by discussing the fairly new phenomenon of hurried lives. It's been only in the last 30-40 years that our lives have taken on the round of 24/7 busyness. Grocery and drug stores, medical clinics, and restaurants are now open 24 hours, 7 days a week. The Internet has brought about 24/7 shopping availability. (I myself didn't even set foot inside a store this past Christmas season to do my shopping!) Car dealerships are open until midnight and even some banks are now open 9-5 on Saturdays. No wonder we can't slow down--there isn't much of a reason to if we have all of this availability to various consumer services.

Next, Mr. Smith encourages us to allow our children free time and unorganized play in their daily lives. We are admonished NOT to overschedule our children but to seek their input with regard to the activities they want to be involved with. We should NOT feel the compulsion to "keep up with the Joneses" but should find the correct fit of activity for our own family based on the personality of each member. The author explains the four types of "heartprints," or activity categories that people fall under. For example, conflicts can arise in a family when one person thrives on never being still (the Runner), while another member cannot keep moving at such a fast pace (either the Walker or Cruiser). The fourth heartprint is that of the Biathlete, who has a pattern of running and then walking through their activities. Connecting with Your Kids will help you determine each person's heartprint and then explain how you can learn to appreciate each individual's unique "heartbeat" (or pace) and work together to keep chaos out of your home. The next few chapters help parents better understand their own child's heartprint and give advice on how to relate to them, especially if the parent and child come from opposite heartprint categories.

The final part of the book discusses how we as parents need to make time for our children so that we are "developing kingdom kids - kids with passion, conviction, and spiritual strength to advance God's kingdom." Our fast-paced lives have arisen out of a desire for material goods and a sense of individual accomplishment. We are no longer basking in God's unfailing acceptance of us, sinfulness and all. Instead we are seeking the approval of our peers, employers, friends, and family. Mr. Smith reminds us that "it is our job as Christian parents to challenge the culture and raise our children with a different perspective - one that reflects principles of God's kingdom." It doesn't matter what goods we possess if we aren't doing anything "good" with them. What truly matters is what we can give back to our community, friends, and family.

This book really spoke to me. It made me step back and look at each member of my family to consider what makes them "tick." Our heartprints are all rather similar, and that is probably why we don't have a lot of day-to-day conflict among ourselves. However, I was reminded over and over that we do need to set aside time during the week, on a nearly daily basis, to talk and share our lives together. Working to remain connected like this is the best tool for us to "move from chaos to closeness."

--Product review by Kris Price, Assistant to the Publishers, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC