Love history? Or maybe you and your spouse are parents of adults and need answers for how to navigate new relationships. #parentingadults #lovepraylisten #amreading #bookreviews #historybuff #racism #parentsofadults #adultchildren #lynchlaw

Love history? Or maybe you and your spouse are parents of adults and need answers for how to navigate new relationships. These two non-fiction titles will hit the spot.

History Buff or Parents of Adults

Whether you love history or simply want to understand the long history of racism in the United States, A Lynching a Port Jervis will make you think. I bought the history textbook view on isolated Southern racism, and completely failed to understand how racism has always flourished north of the Mason-Dixon Line. But understanding the real history of the United States will help us quit glamorizing the past so we can work together for a better future.

If you have adult children, the other non-fiction title will help you navigate the hardest years of parenthood. You probably thought the toddler or teen years laid claim to that distinction. In many ways, navigating the nuances of doing life with adults who no longer live under your roof can hold just as many pitfalls and murky pathways. Mary DeMuth’s book will act as a balanced companion on your relationship journey once your nest empties.

A Lynching at Port Jervis: Race and Reckoning in the Gilded Age

By Philip Dray, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, May 2022, 272 pages.

Every educator needs to take the time to read A Lynching at Port Jervis: Race and Reckoning in the Gilded Age. It won’t be easy. Not because of poor writing (the writing brings to mind Erik Larson) or gruesome details (lynching needs little explaining). No, the reader’s unease will come from the gentle prodding and poking at our conscious.

We find ourselves questioning how we would react in a similar situation today. Although lynch law seems like a dirty page in history, the past decade has revealed a festering wound we as a nation have never reckoned with.

Dray produces a page-turning historical account as well as an invitation to readers to examine their hearts. What hidden prejudices and racist attitudes linger within? How do those prejudices and attitudes manifest themselves?

The current problems plaguing our country come from a whitewashed version of history (the one I grew up with) which still pits the North against the South. Many Americans don’t understand how different kinds of racial prejudice have played out in every section of the country. No section remains blameless. Unless we work together to bring this to light, we won’t think we need healing and reconciliation. 

A history book for #antiracists by Philip Dray. It's time to acknowledge racism exists (and has existed) throughout the United States from the beginning. #amreading Click To Tweet

Love, Pray, Listen: Parenting Your Wayward Adult Kids With Joy

By Mary DeMuth, Bethany House Publishers, September 2022, 224 pages.

Why Read a Book on Parenting if Your Nest is Empty?

For the first year or two of our empty nest, I secretly congratulated myself on the fine job we’d done as parents. Our daughters appeared well-adjusted and stable; for the most part, they seemed to retain the values they’d grown up with. When an undiagnosed mental health crisis blindsided us, I scrambled to learn everything I could. I struggled to understand the disease and researched ways to respond appropriately and with love while still respecting our young adult daughter’s responsibility to care for herself.

After that one-year anomaly, I fluffed my feathers and shined my beak again. We had successfully fledged two amazing young adults. But as storm clouds gathered on the horizon, I grasped the branch beneath our nest with terror. Conversation by conversation, I started to patch together a rather tarnished picture of how our oh-so-wonderful parenting had felt on the receiving end.

By the end of 2021, I struggled with depression and guilt. I started seeing a counselor. Love has held our family together, but I needed help dealing with the regrets and the consequences. When I saw Mary DeMuth’s book Love, Pray, Listen on NetGalley, I immediately requested a copy of it. Any book offering hope and encouragement to parents of young adults sounded like a lifeline.

Love, Pray, Listen

DeMuth did not disappoint. The author uses 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 to show readers how to fully love their adult children, get rid of the guilt that accompanies parenting mistakes, and learn to listen to (and appreciate) the person their child has become.

Christian parents in my generation (me included) thought we had it all together. Unlike our parents, we didn’t teach religion as a series of does and don’ts. We taught our kids about God’s grace (but we may have struggled to extend that grace to our kids and others). Instead of focusing on God’s control, we focused on growing kids ‘God’s way.’ I now realize we were just trying to control our children (I make a lousy substitute for God).

No wonder we feel gob-smacked when our adult offspring make choices we would never make (and we so comfortably assumed they would never make). DeMuth reminds us, “Parenting is a long journey of releasing, of allowing our children to become adults, stretch their wings, and fly into an unknown future.”

Love, Pray, Listen shows us how to let go. It looks a lot like fostering self-awareness, kindness to ourselves and others, trusting God (and giving up on the idea we can control people or situations), and developing humility.

Why I Loved This Book

DeMuth’s book came at just the right time. Now I know I am not alone in my empty nest of regrets and despair. I wish I had had a book like this to read back when I poured over parenting books as a young mother. Maybe I would have parented differently (and with more humility).

But it’s never too late to learn humility and try new approaches. DeMuth’s parenting journey reminds me a lot of my own. She comes alongside readers and gently points out areas of growth. We can still love and pray when we can’t listen (because our children no longer communicate with us).

I loved everything about the book except the subtitle. Maybe the word ‘Struggling’ instead of ‘Wayward’ would have worked better. Wayward sounds too judgmental. I don’t see my kids as wayward. They have chosen a way I don’t understand, but they have the right to make their own choices as adults. To understand their choices, I can humbly seek answers and give them the space to be experts on themselves. Their fledging signaled the start of my letting go (of control).  

DeMuth’s encouragement to “experience the joy of letting go, the power of encouraging our kids, and the adventure of trusting God” in the empty nest stage of our lives will provide a lifeline to those who struggle with parenting adults.

Check out this link if you’d like to listen to an interview with the author.

If you're the parent of an adult who struggles to let go or understand your children's choices, this book by @MaryDeMuth is for you! #LovePrayListen #amreading Click To Tweet
Love history? Or maybe you and your spouse are parents of adults and need answers for how to navigate new relationships. #parentingadults #lovepraylisten #amreading #bookreviews #historybuff #racism #parentsofadults #adultchildren #lynchlaw

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Anita Ojeda

Anita Ojeda juggles writing with teaching high school English and history. When she's not lurking in odd places looking for rare birds, you can find her camping with her kids, adventuring with her husband or mountain biking with her students.

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