Book Review: 'Romancing Your Child's Heart'
"Romancing Your Child's Heart" by Monte Swan is intended to teach parents how to help their children develop an emotional connection with Christ. Many parents teach doctrine and share stories but leave out the personal connection to God that helps them remain in the faith as they hit adolescence and the attractions and the distractions of the world start to erode the unformed faith they have.
Disclaimer: The publisher provided me with a complimentary copy of the book through BookCrash.
Points in Favor of "Romancing Your Child's Heart"
Some of the best advice in this book is the section about filling your life with God's love and words, not just a dutiful lesson on Sundays. And while you want to be intentional in sharing your faith, simply raining down stories of judgment and sin will have the opposite effect than what you intend long term, though it may scare a child into obedience. Discuss God's love and grace with your children and what God does for them in a visceral, age appropriate manner. And you can share your love for God when you share passions that bring you closer to God such as music and nature.
The author points out how "rebellion" isn't inevitable and isn’t even natural. Yes, your children will struggle to define their own identity separate from the parents' and the family unit, but that doesn't mean they will turn 180° and reject everything unless the home environment seems oppressive or overly restrictive. Giving them a spiritual connection to God early on and freedom to develop it in their own ways (under guidance) can give them the confidence to remain in the faith even as they grow and change.
The author brings up how children learn through stories. The author brings up the Narnia book series, and these would be a great set of books to give your older children to read. "Marian's Big Book of Bible Stories", which he mentions, is a good choice for younger children. Other books are mentioned in the book, as well as many tips to engage your children at many levels to deepen their faith.
The author brings up the problem of fighting liberal secular culture for your child's heart and mind, and that simply going to church isn't enough. After all, many churches bring in lessons based on the latest cultural phenomena, giving it a Christian veneer and seeming acceptability, leading kids to watch movies and read books with messages contrary to what the parents want them to learn. "Romancing Your Child's Heart" by Monte Swan refers to a number of books and Biblical passages on this topic if you want to read more about that subject.
The book is under 300 pages and an easy read.
Points against the Book
The author spends too long speaking about his own spiritual development. The discussions of how his own parents raised him are relevant but read as if it is an autobiography, not a parenting guide. And a sizable plurality of this book is his life story.
Romancing Your Child's Heart" by Monte Swan has a section I can summarize best by quoting Dr. Laura – quality time requires quantity time. Don't expect to spend a couple of afternoons with your child and offset all the pressures of the world, and you don't know which moments and memories will create that deep spiritual connection you want the child to have. And getting to those deep, meaningful conversations with your child may take a whole day to reach.
Remember to join organizations that reinforce your beliefs and goals for your children, so that it isn't just you against the world. And whether it is American Heritage Girls or a church youth group that is diligent in teaching the values you believe, this helps parents not seem to be opposite of the world, and it helps reinforce what parents teach while reducing the contrary views their children are exposed to.
If you want to ensure that your children grow with Christ and develop a deep personal attachment to God that will last a lifetime, this book addresses the need to take on that challenge as part of an intentional part of parenting and gives many good resources and action steps to achieve that goal.