Book Review: Loving the Little Years–Motherhood in the Trenches

Title: Loving the Little Years–Motherhood in the Trenches

Author: Rachel Jankovic

Genre: Christian Parenting: Young Children

Star Verdict (out of five): ****

With five children five and under, Rachel Jankovic says that she didn’t write this book because mothering is easy for her; she wrote it because it isn’t!  I had been looking for a book that was applicable to parents of toddlers, and this was recommended to me by several friends.  This is a short book, only 102 pages, and each chapter is only a few pages long (perfect for the few moments you can snatch in the bathroom.  Heh.)

It is not a heavy doctrine book or “parenting manual,” but is simply thoughts, stories, and thought-provoking questions.  The strength of this book is her focus on our attitudes as mothers, as well as creative analogies to help  kids think about their actions and the attitudes behind them.  My favorite by far was one comparing emotions to horses in order to help kids understand that their emotions are a powerful gift from God, but one that needs to be trained and properly handled so our emotions take us in the right direction.  Throughout the book she brings up all-too-common scenarios (like kids bickering over a toy) and puts a perspective on them that made me think “Huh, I’d never thought of it that way.”

Jankovic shows refreshing humility throughout.  It’s easy to “harrumph” over books that were apparently written by mothers with perfect angel children who always respond perfectly to correction.  This book doesn’t fall in that category; Jankovic is quick to point out that she doesn’t have it all together, nor is she so far removed from the years with young children that she only remembers the heartwarming things and has forgotten all about spaghetti smeared all over the couch, carpet, and walls.  She does, however, have a clear desire to show Jesus to her children, and realizes that this has to begin with letting God work in her own heart as a mother.

On the downside, some chapters are stronger than others, and I wished she would have backed her views up with more Scripture.  The book is not heavy on doctrine or parenting philosophy, and is certainly not a systematic “Twelve Step Plan to Perfect Children.”  Every family is different, so not all her suggestions will be “magic behavior bullets.”  However, if you’re looking for some short shots of encouragement, fresh ways to think about the struggles of parenting, and simple yet profound challenges, it’s excellent.

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