Having read and benefited from L.R. Knost’s previous parenting book, Two Thousand Kisses a Day, I was excited to hear about her new book, Whispers Through Time: Communicating through the Ages and Stages of Childhood.
Both of these books reflect the gentle spirit that I aspire to have as I mother my children, and reading this book also came at a crucial time in my own mothering journey. One of our daughters was having a difficult time adjusting to living differently in a new country during our 5-week trip to Ecuador. Specifically she was wrestling with some legitimate fears that too easily became all-consuming in her life. Meanwhile, I was determined to get us settled into a rhythm and routine, and in my hard-driving efforts and reactions, I unfortunately came down rather hard on her with unnecessary strictness and really, on my part, a refusal to listen to her concerns. Instead, what she needed from me at that time was to know that Mommy was listening to and respecting to her fears. I needed to recognize that her acting out was a last-ditch effort to try to get my attention.
Good communication is essential to any relationship, and good communication between parent and child is the emphasis of this book. Knost provides practical insight and experience for many of the common issues parents face in each stage. This book emphasizes the importance of allowing our children to have a voice, and discusses some of the consequences that often show up later on when we don’t listen to or respect our children as people during the early years.
Similarly to Two Thousand Kisses a Day, Whispers Through Time shows threads of Knost’s Christian beliefs, though it is not overt or dealt with in depth in each chapter. Knost’s title and theme are based on the proverb found in Proverbs 15: 1, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Most of us as parents need this reminder at some point, and Knost deals with this theme through each stage of childhood development.
As parents, we are the adults in the relationship, but we can easily slip into patterns of expecting our children to deal with issues and difficulties using far better bodily and emotional control than we have as adults, even though we have the advantage of fully developed bodies and years of exposure to wisdom and knowledge. Knost deals with this common problem by looking at childhood development, specifically examining how children communicate and learn to communicate as they grow and develop.
In many circles and subcultures (Christian included, and in some cases Christian, in particular), it is easy to pass along beliefs and paradigms that frame a child’s diversion from adult-like behavior as willful evil intent to disobey. Knost examines some of the most common of these misperceptions and helps to explain what and why the child may be acting or behaving a certain way. In general, we have a breakdown of communication, and as parents it is often easy to overlook our children’s voices and believe that one-way communication is acceptable in our parenting. Instead, we need to value our children’s voices and work to make them know we are listening and respecting them–loving our little neighbors as ourselves, while still providing boundaries and guidance.
This book does not at all imply that we just give into whatever our children want. Unfortunately, there is a popular dichotomy that states that if you are a parent who listens to your children, allowing them to have a voice, then you’re also a parent who makes no rules or enforces no boundaries. (Knost actually gives specific guidance in dealing with both listening and with boundary-setting.) Kindness and gentleness are not weaknesses in parenting (or in life in general), and like the proverb reminds us, both often dispel angry emotions and actions. Within the framework of communication, Knost also deals with what words we use to frame our children’s words and actions. If we blame natural development and variances on a child’s bad intentions, we easily succumb to believing this about our children, and in turn, treating them this way. (E.g., if a baby is “overdue,” we may even tend to begin this sort of framing pre-birth; we way, “he’s so stubborn!” This pattern can easily continue in a way that is harmful to our relationship with our children.)
This was a book that was helpful for me to read with three children ages five and under, and I know it will be a helpful book through the ages and stages to come (and when others are repeated). I especially benefited from Knost’s perspective of being a mother of adult children, while still having a baby in her house, as well as other children mixed in at older stages. This gives her the gift of a parenting perspective that has the voice of experience and age, while simultaneously allowing her to remain connected to the current struggles and joys of parenting toddler.
Table of Contents:
About the Author:
Best-selling parenting and children’s book author, L.R.Knost, is an independent child development researcher and founder and director of the advocacy and consulting group, Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources. A mother of six, her children range from 25- years down to 25-months-old. Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages and Whispers Through Time: Communication Through the Ages and Stages of Childhood are the first in her Little Hearts Handbooks series of parenting guides. The next book in the series, The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline is due to be released November 2013. Other works by this award-winning author include the children’s picture books A Walk in the Clouds, Petey’s Listening Ears, and the soon-to-be-released Grumpykins series for ages 2 to 6, which are humorous and engaging tools for parents, teachers, and caregivers to use in implementing gentle parenting techniques in their homes and schools.
Disclaimer: I was provided with a free Kindle copy of this book to read and review, but all opinions are my own. This book is also part of a book tour, and the other reviews and posts about this book can be read here. (Due to some Internet issues on our return from Ecuador, this posting may show up a little later than originally planned.)