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Spring 1990 · Vol. 19 No. 1 · pp. 106–8 

Recommended Reading


Vange Willms Thiessen

Bettelheim, Bruno. A Good Enough Parent. New York: Vintage Books, 1987.

Addresses issues crucial in creative child-rearing. Does not offer preset rules; shows parents how to develop their own insights and understanding of the needs and behavior of children. Parents are warned not to indulge their impulses to create the child they would like to have, but encouraged to help each child fully develop into the person he or she is created to be.

Bradshaw, John. Bradshaw on: The Family. Dearfield Beach: Health Communications Inc., 1988.

Counselor and theologian. Focuses on dynamics within the family; how the rules and attitudes learned while growing up impact adult relationships. In identifying patterns, new understandings for effective parenting are gained.

Ginott, Haim G. Between Parent and Child. New York: Macmillan Company, 1965.

A classic. Offers suggestions for better parent-child relationships. Discusses a new approach to conversation with children, the effects of praise and criticism, anger, fears and anxieties, limiting-setting, and discipline.

Faber, Adele and Mazlish, Elaine. Liberated Parents Liberated Children. New York: Avon Books, 1974.

Describes how the “language of compassion” helps to generate a more loving atmosphere in the home. Authors base their books on Dr. Ginott’s workshops, his teaching and on experiential learnings. {107}

———. How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk. New York: Avon Books, 1980.

Addresses issues of: listening and understanding a child’s concerns: family cooperation; how to deal with feelings; alternatives to punishment; assisting a child in attaining a healthy self-image.

———. Siblings Without Rivalry. New York: Avon Books, 1987.

Through action-oriented anecdotes, shows how to overcome conflict and help children get along.

Leman, Kevin. How to Make Children Mind Without Losing Yours. Old Tappan: Revell Books, 1986.

Holds that an ultimate goal of parenting is to facilitate the development of self-control, self-motivation and a sense of responsibility in children. Discusses the importance of loving support, decision-making, and the use of natural and logical consequences in an approach to child-rearing from a Biblical perspective.


For most parents, the ultimate goal of parenting is a self-motivated, self-disciplined, responsible young adult. But parents are often thwarted by their own need to protect, to control and to impose their values. Thus the pendulum swings from rigid authoritarianism to indulgent permissiveness.

In the believers’ community, relationships provide the soil from which the core of the individual self develops. Given sufficient nurture, the self emerges through a process of maturation to empower others, facilitating the formation of a true community. A maturity-empowering model of Christian parenting incorporates 1) a parenting style which attends to the developing needs of children, and 2) an empowering approach which assists children in progressing from dependency towards autonomy and mature interdependence.

The needs of children are identified in the processes of attachment, separation-loss, and individuation-integration. {108} Secure attachment refers to the specific bond between parent and child which is foundational for future growth. Good enough parents provide not only nutrition and safety, they also become attuned to the infant’s need for physical closeness, mirroring, validation of feelings, and mutual enjoyment. When a child perceives that he/she is accepted and loved without condition, movement towards separation commences.

The pain of separation and loss is crucial for the unfolding of a sense of self. The active, curious exploration of the environment and the push towards autonomy coincides with the fear of abandonment and loss of emotional closeness. Good enough parents respond with availability and reassurance alongside encouragement towards independence. The danger of misusing excessive power and control, or of withdrawing love interferes with subsequent individuation.

Successful negotiation of repeated separations, loss and the “rapprochement crisis” allow the child to discover his/her own unique preferences, wants, abilities and contributions from an internal locus of control. Good enough parenting facilitates decision-making within the context of boundaries and limitations, consistent with family values.

The actions of God, as parent, clearly point to a model in which parental love/support and discipline/control intertwine to empower a child in the process towards maturation.

Vange Willms Thiessen is completing an M.A. in Marriage and Family Counseling at Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary, Fresno, California.

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