Throw Out the Cookie Cutters

Mothering from Scratch by Melinda Means and Kathy Helgemo:  A Book Review

When my four boys were all very small, there were days when I could have argued that I was too strict, and then heaped guilt upon myself for being too lenient — all within one hour’s time.  When my mind and heart were in the wrong place, mothering was a toxic cocktail of irrational guilt, odious comparisons, and self-condemnation.

Written by mothers for mothers, Mothering from Scratch offers an approach that breathes grace into a mother’s life.  Instead of shoe-horning ourselves into someone else’s plan, why not try mothering out of the individual strengths and characteristics that God designed when He made you?  The “perfect mother” lives next door to Big Foot and down the road from the Loch Ness Monster.  By recognizing this and owning our inadequacies, mothers gain a “unique opportunity to make a gigantic leap in our moral development.”

Kathy and Melinda urge mums to find their comfort zone and then to work at broadening it so that mothers and children grow together.  This is a graceful balance between sensible self-care and mature self-denial.  Mothers need relationships with other adults and the opportunity to develop personal interests, but they also must set up boundaries to protect the fleeting years when their children need them most.  Godly wisdom is necessary for setting these priorities, and every family will look a little different.

At the end of each chapter, thought-provoking questions and suggested action plans make this book a great choice for a mum’s group study.  Rich in resources throughout and then finishing off with three pages of suggested books, blogs, and pod casts, Mothering from Scratch is also a practical reference.  The authors’ personal anecdotes from their own families are like a warm hand on the reader’s shoulder saying, “We can do this.”  Empowered by the Spirit, free of the cookie cutters, and sensitive to the uniqueness of our own family, “there is, therefore, now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.”

This book was provided by Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my unbiased review.

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Michele Morin

Michele Morin is a teacher, blogger, reader, and gardener who finds joy in sitting at a table surrounded by women with open Bibles. She has been married to an unreasonably patient husband for over 25 years, and their four children are growing up at an alarming rate. Michele loves hot tea and well-crafted sentences, poems that stop her in her tracks and days at the ocean with the whole family. She laments biblical illiteracy and advocates for the prudent use of “little minutes.” She blogs at Living Our Days, and you can connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.

3 thoughts on “Throw Out the Cookie Cutters”

  1. This sounds like an interesting book. While I don’t have kids, I know from some of my friends’ experiences how difficult it can be to balance “life” as a mother. When it comes to children, there is a fine line between being too lenient or too disciplined–but like you mentioned, each woman has their own comfort zone. It’s finding out who God made you to be and working from there. That is true advice for any aspect of life.

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  2. Yes, and there’s a tendency for authors to resort to “formulae” for raising children. “Do these ten things and your kids will turn out fine.” Problem is that one author’s ten things usually contradict the eight things another author prescribes, and mothers go nuts trying to walk the tight-rope. These authors have managed to resist the urge to sound omniscient.

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