Review John A. Younts, Everyday Talk, Shepherd Press, 2009, 169pp
Being a soon-to-be father, I was reading everything that was recommended to me about parenting and raising children so when this was recommended to me I immediately took it up. At first I wondered what it could be about but when I saw the subtitle “Talking about God with your kids” I thought that maybe I should be reading something else more to do with babies as I was so imminently to have one of those, unless my child is born a teenager I shouldn’t need to worry about this. I was wrong.
Younts writes with an extremely accessible style, from the outset he connects with the reader very simply on things that most, if not all, of us would be able to relate to, circumstances, stories, thoughts. Much of his opening is so ‘normal’ that it actually made me wonder if he would have anything to say that was different to many sermons I had heard on relating to people before, I was soon to be pleasantly surprised.
The first chapter, rather than easing you in to his theme, challenges from the start this very simple idea of how we talk to each other everyday, not just our words but our attitudes, demeanor, tone and intent. He centres much around the key verse of Deuteronomy 6:6 ” These commandements that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up”. He speaks to the power our words have in terms of their impact on our lives and on those around us, most importantly, our immediate family and focuses on our children.
The key element about this book is that he doesnt just focus on general, overarching principles, he is very “nuts and bolts” about how we are to apply the teachings of the bible on speech into our everyday lives. He talks through practical, believeable examples of situations that may arise in the family and analyzes very well the different responses parents may give and provides some very helpful insight into the pro’s and con’s of different avenues of thinking without being judgemental or negatively critical of them.
Perhaps one of the most helpful parts of the book for anyone is the perspecive shared in chapter 6 which focuses on our concept of sin, a subject that he engages with thoroughly and sensitively, he discusses the way we view sin and how it affects our discipline of our children. This is not a book to read if you do not want to be challenged, even though it addresses issues with children Younts very categorically emphasises that in order to be a good role model to our children and those around us, in order to project Christ, we must first deal with ourselves and how we think, react, and yes, talk. Chapters 8-11 really get very practical on certain issues for older children such as sex and music but are none the less helpful if that is an area of concern.
The crux of the book comes in the penultimate chapter, where a single line blazes off the pages which parents all over the world, I am sure, have shaken their heads at “Parents, your highest priority in life cannot be your children…..Your primary focus, of course, is to know and honor God. You must love and know God first and foremost.” I love the way the book deals with us as parents (as I now am) first and then equips us with the tools necessary to bless our children with our everyday talk.
This book has reinvigorated my awareness of how I speak, not that the books suggests that after reading it you will become perfect in word and deed, but there is so much here to refresh, excite and test the mind that much reflection is needed during reading. I would often stop and ponder certain passages and questions for a while and talk to my wife about her thoughts, as with any book, there are points that not everyone will agree with but it makes for excellent discussion.
Technically this is not a difficult read and could be finished very quickly however with the questions for thought at the end of each chapter and the depths he draws the readers minds to, it would be doing the book an injustice if it was viewed as a “quick guide to better conversation with your children”. While not a theological book per se it is a book that is firmly grounded in a biblical perspective that resounds through every chapter and main theme, Younts continually points back to the bible as his primary source of authority and information while still integrating modern statistics and thoughts where pertinent.
I recommend this book to any parent, soon-to-be parent, married couple thinking about becoming parents, teachers and anyone else who will interact with young people in any kind of discipleship, while not all the chapters will apply to all these groups there is plenty of application to make it worth a read. I pray that you will be as blessed by this book as I have been.