Ana Domitrovic recommends this short guide to effective parenting by Tom Rowley.
[New City Magazine – December 2015]
Wrap Everything in Love!
Tom Rowley is not a family counsellor or a specialist in mediation. He is an expert in his own marriage and his own family. Tom has been married for fifty-three years to JoAnn and they have five children. ‘5 Steps to Great Parenting’ derives from the rich encounters in their family life, and the experiences of many others they have met while facilitating retreats as family ministers.
Even so, this is not a typical parenting book. It doesn’t give you tips and theories. It takes you on a thorough examination of conscience and gives you the heart of effective parenting, which is ‘love’. Everything we are and do as parents needs to be translated by our children into ‘I love you’. We all wish to live like this, but putting it into practice can be a problem. Tom’s steps, or principles as I would like to call them, speak to the heart and soul of every parent. Reading this book feels like talking to your parents while the kids are asleep upstairs.
I read the book slowly and carefully, as the depth of thought and experience constantly surprised me. At various points I felt overwhelmed and emotional. When continuing to read, I felt hopeful and calm, especially when Tom speaks of conflicts and problems in the family as a point of growth and value. He states: ‘Although the choice to ignore the things of the world is not an option in most families, the choice to put interacting with our family members ahead of the things of the world is something we can all do.’ That was the exact answer to most of our arguments in the family. Our daughter, who is nine, is so attracted to her Kindle that finding an answer to how much she is allowed to play on it is a daily source of distress. But it’s not only her. My husband’s phone keeps buzzing, with emails, texts or phone calls. Me? I have the opposite problem. I often leave my phone somewhere and can’t find it, or the battery runs down so I am unavailable even when I should be, and my emails go unread. This book helped us to start putting things in the right order.
There are many books on the market regarding parenting. They all offer good advice on how to master this ancient skill, but this is the book that left me inspired, energised and calm and hopeful at the same time. I recommend it to every parent, grandparent or anyone involved in the bringing up of children.
Tom Rowley shares telling insights with examples to help parents in their role of bringing up children. He explores concepts in the family such as loving one another, making little things count, realizing that suffering has value, reaching out to one another, and learning from one another. His thoughts, intuitions, and experiences unfold in a way that feel like a conversation around the kitchen table.