Book Review: When Parenting Isn’t Perfect

When Parenting Isn’t Perfect, by Jim Daly with Paul Asay

[Note:  This book was provided free of charge by BookLook/Zondervan.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.]

When reading a book like this, I wonder what is meant.  I am no stranger to reading books that detail the failings and try to show a sense of graciousness to parents [1], and this book fits along with most of the material in terms of its attempts at balance.  While the author talks a bit about some of the more horrific forms of abuse, most of the imperfections of the parents stalked about here are matters of not listening to children, being too harsh or abrupt in terms of discipline, and in dealing with issues of anger and addiction.  These are imperfections, to be sure, but they are not the sort of imperfections that really destroy a parent’s credibility.  Nevertheless, this book is pretty clearly based on a view that both parents and children need to view themselves and each other as being beings in need of divine and human grace because of brokenness and the influence of sin as well as the universality of human error.  If you find it somewhat irksome to be hit over the head over and over again about the issue of grace, this book is likely not to be a particularly pleasant read.

In terms of its contents, this book is a fairly standard length for its publisher of being just over 200 pages, and has a nearly invisible co-writer.  The book is divided into four parts with twelve fairly short chapters.  The first part of the book addresses the question of being good enough, pointing out that as human beings we can never be good enough, what a family is, and whether our families are broken or merely real.  Some are likely both, as was the case in my own background and that of the author.  The second part of the book looks at how one builds a better family, looking at fundamentals, how opposites attract, and messy lessons of improvement.  The third part of the book looked at issues of troubleshooting, examining how common the blame game is and how to stop playing it, how to make family a safe place, and how we accept the free will of others.  The fourth part of the book looks at the issue of memories, examining the joy of togetherness, dealing with transitions to adulthood, and ending with a discussion of the best family.

There are a few qualities that make this book a bit tough to enjoy.  As has been mentioned already, there is a lot that this book has to say about grace that can seem a bit heavy handed sometimes.  In addition to that, the author engages in more than a bit oversharing about his own family.  At times, such as discussing his own childhood, this is not so bad, but the way the author talks so much about his relationship with his wife and children and their struggles, it is uncomfortable.  I do not know how private the author’s wife and children are, but even someone as talkative about their life as I am was made uncomfortable by the level of sharing that went on here.  If this is not enough to bother you, there is a lot of insight that this book has to provide, but the book does not always put its insight in the most palatable form possible.  This is a book that deals openly and honestly with messy reality, and is perhaps a bit too messy, but at least the author does not present a false front to the world.  One only wonders if he goes too far to the opposite extreme.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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6 Responses to Book Review: When Parenting Isn’t Perfect

  1. Catharine Martin says:

    For you to call something too personal or messy is off-putting indeed. I hope he checked with his family with regard to content before the book was published.

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