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Wednesday, March 28, 2018

"Peaceful Mom" (April Cassidy)

TITLE: Peaceful Mom: Building a Healthy Foundation with Christ as Lord
AUTHOR: April Cassidy
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2018, (336 pages).

Following her popular book about being a "Peaceful Wife," author and mother, April Cassidy has written one for being a "peaceful mom." The title itself suggests several things about the needs of mothers. They need some way to establish calm amid the many challenging demands on the responsibilities and expectations of a mother. They need guidance, especially new mothers, about what it takes to maintain balance between their roles as mothers, wives, and other social roles. They need peace with themselves too because some of the hardest expectations come not from without but within. This is what this book is about. It is about restoring serenity within the mother's heart, the security for the children, sanctity for the faith, and sanity for the self. The key: A mom who "knows God intimately and follows Him wholeheartedly." This central theme helps the mom to trust God with all of her circumstances; to trust God for her future; to trust God in all of life. Genuine peace must always begin with God. After all God is the Author of True Peace. There is a need to examine our own hearts to ask who or what we worship. If we are after our own expectations, probably we are what we worship. If we are after God's heart, it is God we are worshiping. This may seem obvious but it is hugely necessary. It is the anxiety behind the activities that often drive mothers to do what they thought was good for their family. Over the long run, this Trojan horse of fleshly anxiety breeds worry, discontentment, exhaustion, and eventually disillusionment with parenting. Examine the heart for any idols to be dethroned. There can be no two masters remember?

We learn about putting on the "oxygen mask" first, which is taking a leaf out of the popular airline oxygen masks which tell parents to take care of their own breathing before attempting to take care of others. This makes sense because only one who is adequately helped would be able to help others. Our oxygen masks could be physical or spiritual needs. It could be outer safety or inner security. We learn about tackling erroneous beliefs that could derail our parenting efforts. If we have the wrong thinking or beliefs in the first place, what else could we then teach our children? Surely we would want them to learn the right things. If that is so, it is highly important that our doctrines and beliefs are sound. Cassidy gives a list of things we could do to inculcate such beliefs, to take our thoughts captive to Christ, so that we could arrest any "skewed beliefs." In doing so, we also tackle the area of pride where we often lie to ourselves that we know more than others, even God. From the area of thoughts, we move into actual practice, how we should take responsibility for ourselves and our characters before teaching anything to our children. Gradually, we confront unrighteous anger with righteousness; tame emotions driven by hormonal changes; and conquer negative and hurtful emotions.

Part Two of the book deals with the more practical aspects of being a mom, in particular, in being a peaceful mom. We model respect for God and for those in authority. In a culture that seems quite skeptical of authority figures and lacks good role models, moms have that sacred opportunity to model the right character for our kids. Even our behaviour shows up when we encounter authority figures like police, the judge, the government officials, church leaders, etc. This is especially so when we are in fact right, and the authority figure is wrong. Often, we are easily upset when we are unjustly treated. Modeling Christlike behaviour is like Jesus going to the cross even though he was unfairly judged. If that way of modeling is hard, there is more to come. Cassidy brings in the danger of putting our children above God. Many of us are unable to do an Abraham, who offered his son Isaac as a sacrifice to God. We need to get our priorities right and to trust God knows best. This trust would be tested more and more as our children grow up. Over a sustained time of practice, we would be able to have a more eternal perspective in everything we do. We learn to leave a legacy for our kids. We learn together with our children from the mistakes in our past. Perhaps, the biggest test of parenting will happen when our children approach their teenage years:

  • Trying to guide (not control) our teenagers
  • Loving without need for strings attached
  • Resisting the temptation to let control replace freedom of choice
  • Dealing with differences
  • Choosing the appropriate words in emotionally charged situations

Other things include maintaining godly beauty even as one ages; learning to count trials as joy; and learning to forgive; to show mercy and grace to all, beginning with ourselves. Tackle the demon of bitterness lest it destroy our relationships. Extend grace to our children to teach them that they too could do the same to others. Each chapter ends with a prayer of a peaceful mom. The appendices are rich with resources to help us in our spiritual parenting. Such as how to share the gospel; practical steps about Christian living; resources for studying the Bible; and more. I find the part about "Modeling Healthy Relationships" useful as it contrast with the unhealthy ones to avoid.

My Thoughts
First, thank you April Cassidy for being both honest about what being a mother means and what being a believer entails. Having read so many how-to books, I appreciate the openness and the earnest sharing of her struggles, her stories, and her strategies to incorporate faith into parenting. She uncovers many common struggles a modern mother would face, from juggling with the many responsibilities to the managing of rebellious teens. It takes one to know one. She shares more about herself at her PeacefulWife blog. She also has a blog (www.peacefulsinglegirl.wordpress.com) written for single women. Incidentally, her work has also encouraged her husband to start a PeacefulHusband blog. Maybe, this book would spur them to start a "PeacefulDad" blog? We shall see.

Second, Cassidy confesses that this book is written particularly to those with "strong personalities." That is one reason why she spends time dealing with the issue of control. It is easy to become paranoid over our lack of control when things do not turn out our way. Cassidy understands that perfectly and I believe she writes with a lot of introspection about her own experience too. Her chapter on overcoming negative emotions and avoiding common mistakes are written to address this very issue of "strong personalities." While some may not admit they are strong in personality, I would think we all have strong feelings about something. It is only a matter of time or circumstances when these personalities show up. For instance, any mom who sees their children in danger would do a superwoman feat regardless of what they would think of themselves.

Third, one thing not to miss out is that being a good mother is not to be isolated from being a good wife; just like being a good father cannot be separated from being a good husband. That is why I appreciate this book being a second rather than a first. Cassidy's first book is about being a peaceful wife to her husband. This is necessary as the foundation of parenting is a strong marriage. It disheartens me to see many good families, even Christian ones, break up or only held together because of their children. This is the wrong way to even start and maintain a family. Marriage is the glue that binds all in good Christian love. So, readers, if you want to be a peaceful mom, do not just work on yourself and your children. Pay good attention also to your marriage.

Highly recommended book for reading and for practice!

April Cassidy is wife to Greg Cassidy and mother to two children. She is author of "The Peaceful Wife" and is a popular speaker to women's groups and also a part-time pharmacist.

Rating: 4.5 stars of 5.


This book has been provided courtesy of Kregel Publications via NetGalley as part of the Kregel Blog Tour without requiring a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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