UK Christian Bookshops Directory: Christian Book Reviews: Child Rearing for Fun
Child Rearing for Fun Child Rearing for Fun
Trust Your Instincts and Enjoy Your Children

Anne Atkins
ISBN 0310254175 (9780310254171)
Zondervan, 2004

Category: Books for Children and Parents

Anne Atkins writes from the perspective of a mother of five. I'm reading—and writing this review, of course—from the perspective of Child No. 3 in a family of five children, and I feel obliged to point out that I don't have any children of my own. I do, however, have plenty of nephews and nieces (12 at the last count) courtesy of my brothers and sisters, so I think that gives me a reasonable handle for getting to grips with this book.

If you disagree, my advice is simple: buy the book and decide for yourself – you certainly won't regret it. Because this is a book that sparkles with all of Anne Atkins' wit and humour. She writes exactly as she speaks: if ever you've heard her on BBC Radio 4's "Thought for the Day" you'll immediately recognise her voice as you start to read. Alongside the sharp wit, there's a wry wisdom: the voice of experience, not telling you how to do it but saying, quite openly, "This is how it is for me: this is how it can be for you: but you're the parent, you're the expert when it comes to your children."

Anne insists that she is not an expert and—in case you're under any illusions to the contrary—gives a rundown of some of the problems that she and Shaun, her husband, have encountered along the way. I won't steal her thunder with examples: suffice to say it hasn't been an easy ride. Expert advice is not what this book is about: but it is about encouraging you, as a parent, to hang on in there, to enjoy being there for your children and your spouse, to hold on with the sort of determined grip that only love can give.

Notice that use of the word "spouse". Anne is a firm advocate of marriage, of life commitment, as the best environment for bringing up children. No compromise, she says: rule out the 'D' word at the outset. But she's also a realist: she knows that many of her readers will be single parents, some through divorce, some through widowhood. Others will be remarried or living with other partners or in other convoluted relationships – but the basic principles of loving commitment between parent and child remain the same. Yes, marriage is the ideal starting point, but we all have to work from where we are (and yes, she cracks the almost inevitable one about the Irishman giving directions...).

Anne's not interested in political correctness. You already know that you're not necessarily going to agree with everything she says, and for sure the so-called experts won't. But what's the point of a book that simply makes you nod in agreement all the time? Here you'll find a conversation partner you can engage with, laugh and weep with — and believe me, you'll come out of the conversation stimulated and all the more enriched for it. Child rearing can be fun: and with Anne Atkins it is. Enjoy.

Phil Groom, January 2005

Phil Groom is this site's Webmaster and Reviews Editor. He's a freelance blogger, writer and web developer who spent ten years managing the bookshop at London School of Theology alongside eight years writing web reviews for Christian Marketplace magazine before he came to his senses and went independent. You can find him on facebook or follow him on twitter @notbovvered.


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