Parenting is hard work! And with every year that my kids grow older, it seems that we solve one problem just as another makes its way into our lives. I’m always on the look out for a good parenting book. When I hard Dr. Todd Cartmell, author of Keep the Siblings, Lose the Rivalry (which I enjoyed), had written another parenting book, I was happy to take a look.
In 8 Simple Tools for Raising Great Kids, Cartmell breaks down each of the eight tools into five brief chapters, with a practical tip at the end of each chapter to help parents remember the main idea and a follow-up thought or action to put into practice that day. For the tool of “Talking“, for example, he encourages parents that their communication style with their kids is vital (no yelling), explains why it’s important to initiate conversations with their kids (everyone put down the phones), and the value of being an easy-to-listen parent.
In the chapter on the tool of “Connecting“, he emphasizes the importance of warm physical touch, getting into their child’s world (yes, down on the floor, putting the Legos together), and explains why a regular family time is one of the most powerful tools a parent can use to build a close and connected family.
“Family times are vital to the parent-child relationship,” says Cartmell. “For example, when I think back on times with my family when the boys were young, I remember our going around in a circle and saying things we appreciate about the person on our left or right. The busy hustle and bustle of everyday life impedes meaningful, reflective discussions. It is only when you cultivate the regular habit of stopping and reflecting together on the things that are important you get this kind of interaction on a regular basis.”
Throughout the book, parents also learn the Family Respect Rule, the importance of flexible thoughts, and how their kids are God’s gold nuggets (Are you looking for the gold or the dirt?).
Cartmell also discusses the importance of practicing our faith and weaving it into every part of our lives. He emphasizes the importance of continually living our faith alongside our kids and with our kids so they get a real picture of what a genuine Christian is supposed to look like.
“These are not tools to use for a while and then discard once your kids are eighteen,” says Cartmell. “My boys are both now in their twenties and I need each of these tools as much as I did when they were three and five years old. These are tools you want to weave into the very nature of your parenting for as long as you’re a parent.”
The chapters are short — perfect for reading along with your daily devotional or during breakfast and each come with a clear application for the day. Don’t let the short chapters fool you though — there’s a lot packed into this small book and it is something you will want to read again and again as the years go by.