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A Review of "Gently Lead"by Virginia Page
"Gently Lead: How to Teach Your Children About God While Finding Out for Yourself," by Polly Berrien Berends (Crossroad Publishing Co., 1998)
For anyone looking for guidance providing spiritual direction for their children/grandchildren, I highly recommend this very readable, warm and captivating book. While being respectful of the mystery of God, Polly Berends, psychotherapist, makes connections between spiritual truth and practical everyday concerns like bedtime, learning to ride a bike, going to school and enjoying a sibling.
This is not a "how to" method book but a wonderful collection of surprising moments that demonstrate the possibilities of God-reliant parenthood, in which we see that God is the parent, and both parents and child are God's children. The author points out, "Jesus' parents are probably the only parents who considered their child, from the outset, as belonging to God and not their own." I wonder how this perception affected the faith of Christ and how it would affect the faith of our own children? Perhaps this was why, at such a tender age, Jesus wanted to be "about my Father's business."
The chapter entitled "In The Beginning Is The Word" concerns self-esteem and is a real treasure. The author does not buy into the popular notion of thinking high self-esteem comes from being praised. She explains that, "Self-esteem is not a matter of thinking well of oneself but of forgetting oneself, of being able to be what one really is. As teenagers, children will face dangerous temptations. Too much television watching, vandalism, substance addictions, and sexual promiscuity all have roots in the quest for self-esteem." She illustrates how peaceful private times build true self-esteem and help diffuse these temptations as a child grows.
Children learn the most from watching us. Jesus said, "Seek and you shall find." Berends reminds us that, "Children will not always do what they are told to do, but they will be -- good and bad -- as they see us being. If we seek, they will seek -- the finding part is up to God!"
Reviewer M. Scott Peck, author of "The Road Less Traveled," said, "Read it and the angels will rejoice." I can't vouch for the angels, but this book is well worth the read.
Virginia Page is Godly Play Coordinator at Zion Episcopal Church, Wappingers Falls, New York, USA.
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