Parenting Beyond Your Capacity | Notes & Review

Posted on October 15, 2011


Reggie Joiner & Carey Nieuwhof. Parenting Beyond Your Capacity: Connect Your Family to a Wider Community. David C. Cook, 2010. (199 pages)

Every parent has a set of limitations. As you read these pages we hope you will learn to look beyond your limitations and embrace a set of principles that will help you influence your children beyond your own capacity. (20)

Chapter 1 – The Orange Parent

A Parent’s influence is best realized in partnership with the church.

Maybe it’s just me, but I never seem to have enough time or space. Instead, my approach to parenting has often been random and reactive. I think many of us respond to what we feel is right in the moment. We reach for the closest book on the shelf, scan the first Web site in our Google search, or sort through multiple lists given to us by the “experts.” Then we parent by experiment. (25)

Too many parents wake up one day and realize they have economized on the very relationships they vowed would always be a priority. (26)

…the essence of parenting is really about nurturing critical connections that affect eery child’s future. (26)

No one has more potential to influence your child than you. (27)

Are you starting to feel a little pressure? Good. It may be healthy from time to time to feel a little desperate, especially if your desperation drives you to get help and admit that you don’t have the capacity to be a perfect parent. If parenting isn’t a little intimidating, then maybe you don’t really understand how critical your role is. (28)

We need to remember that our influence has more to do with our relationships with our children than it does our skills as parents. Your purpose as a parent is not to develop exceptional parenting skills. (29)

Your role is not to impress your children or anyone else with your ability to parent; your role is to impress your children with the love and nature of God. (29)

But there is a flip side to this principle. It is the other thread that runs through these pages: Some things are simply beyond a parent’s capacity to do. (29)

You are not the only influence your children need. (30)

Here is a primary point of this book: Your children one day will seek affirmation and approval from adults other than you. (31)

Two combined influences will make a greater impact than just two influences. (31)

We call that the Orange Factor. (32)

Chapter 2 – Stock Family Syndrome

God isn’t holding up a perfect picture; He’s writing a bigger story.

Reality looks different for every family. (39)

If most of the parents in the Bible had shown up in your church, you would have suggested they go to counseling. (43)

So, what is God doing? He’s not trying to give you a better picture. He’s writing a story. (43)

It seems like God is more interested in using broken people than He is in creating a better picture. (44)

We can breathe a little easier to learn that God is not nearly as interested in putting a picture in front of us as much He [sic] is trying to tell a story through us. (44)

If you were to invite Go into your less-than-ideal story and learn to cooperate with whatever He wants to do in your life, the dynamic of your family could radically change. (45)

Rather than painting a picture of a perfect family, God wants to use family as a canvas for His redemptive story. (45)

Our experience has been that when parents become preoccupied with ideal pictures, it can actually do the opposite of expanding their capacity: It will drain their energy. (46)

What we are suggesting is that there are two different approaches to family. When we take the Better Picture approach, we try to conform every family to our picture of what family should be. When we take the Bigger Story approach, we learn to see every family as a potential platform for God to demonstrate His story of redemption and restoration. (47)

Chapter 3 – Family Value #1: Widen the Circle

Pursue strategic relationships for your kids.

…enhance your child’s relationship with you.

…advance your child’s relationship with God.

connect your child to relationships with those outside your home.

A time will come when you and your children will need another adult in their lives besides you. (62)

First of all, don’t take it too personally. Second, don’t be too proud. (63)

Here is the main question: What are you doing to encourage your child’s relationship with people outside the home? (64)

As a parent, I believe that one of the greatest values of the church is its potential to provide community for my children. (65)

The goal is for you to pursue strategic relationships so another adult voice will be speaking into your son’s or daughter’s life, saying the kinds of things you would try to say as a parent. (72)

When you widen the circle, the goal is to have other trusted adults int he lives of children before they need them so they will be there when they need them. (76)

Chapter 4 – Family Value #2: Imagine the End

Focus your priorities on what matters most.

What I give to my children or what I do for my children is not as important as what I leave in them. (82)

Who do I really want them to become? (87)

As strange as it sounds, I think I sometimes make the mistake of trying to compete with God. Instead of pointing to Him, I try to be the hero. …Wise parents will strive to make sure they are not trying to become a substitute for God. (89)

Chapter 5 – Family Value #3: Fight for the Heart

Communicate in a style that gives the relationship value.

Sometimes it is easy to forget that you can win the argument and force the right behavior but lose the heart in the process. (100)

…winning an argument actually isn’t winning. (101)

Every family fights, but there is a world of difference between when you fight with someone and when you fight for someone. (101)

If you want to pass on a legacy to the next generation, it has to be transferred relationally. Anytime you pass down rules, practices, or truths outside of the context of a genuine, compelling love, you establish an empty religion. (104)

The problem with rules and reasons is that you can debate them — but you can’t debate a trusted relationship. unfortunately, most of us parents are better skilled at fighting to win the argument than we are at fighting to win the heart. …One of the most powerful things a parent can do is learn to communicate in a style that values the relationship. (107)

Moses wanted future generations to see how they were personally linked to that bigger story, how they fit into a master plan, and how they were connected to a relationship with their Creator. Instead of encouraging parents to assume the role of attorneys who build a logical case for why the law should be followed, Moses prompted them to focus on the character of the Lawgiver. (109)

During the formative and teenage years, it is actually more essential for the parents to earn trust with the child than it is for the child to earn trust with the parents. (110)

[Moms and dads] need to see their parental role as a marathon, recognizing that building a relationship in which their child trusts them is even more important than whether they can trust their child regarding the immediate issues of the day. – Chap Clark

How trustworthy we are as parents is much more important for their growth than how trustworthy they are. (112)

Moses knew a secret about obedience — it starts when you really believe that God can be trusted. (113)

…our capacity to love our children and family is somehow linked to our love for God. Stated another way, if you want to love your children beyond your capacity then learn to love God. (114)

Chapter 6 – Family Value #4: Create a Rhythm

Increase the quantity of quality time you spend together.

Rhythm in your home actually shapes your family values. …Rhythm silently but significantly communicates value. (122)

So — and here’s the key question — how normal is God in your home? (123)

It’s characteristic of humans (especially prosperous humans) to create an image of God so narrowly defined that it separates Him completely from culture. Instead of seeing everything as somehow connected to God’s story, we love to categorize and segment our faith. (128)

Family Times, p.132

If families decided to take advantage of the times already built into their routines, initiating interaction would be more natural. Spiritual discussions would be normalized. Doing so moves these important conversations from the formal to the everyday, engaging a rhythm that already exists but leveraging it for the most important purposes. (133)

Rhythm requires two primary components — intentionality and constancy — and can be defined as a strong, repeated pattern. (134)

It’s not quantity or quality time you need as a family — it’s the quantity of quality times. (135)

Chapter 7 – Family Value #5: Make It Personal

Put yourself first when it comes to personal growth.

Moses was explaining that this has to be in you as a parent before you can expect it to be in your children. The most important thing that happens as a result of reading this book may not be what happens in the lives of your children, but what happens in your life. (152)

If you are merely trying to instill faith and morals for the sake of the kids, but it’s not a priority personally, they’ll eventually catch on. (155)

God is interested in writing a bigger story, and your personal growth is part of the plotline. In fact, your developing story may be more influential than you think. …This is not about a perfect model, just an honest one. Whatever you want your children to become, you should honestly strive to become as well. (157)

It would fundamentally change the way we look at our lives if we really believed the greatest thing that could happen in the heart of a child would be what happened in the heart of a parent. (158)

Everything doesn’t have to be right in you or about you before you can be a positive influence in your children’s lives. But there is one thing you have to embrace if you hope to have lasting influence: You have to be authentic. You have to make it personal. (161)

Chapter 8 – Back to the Story

You can mobilize your family to demonstrate God’s love in a broken world.

The truth is, it’s possible to hold on to our kids so tightly that we forget the ultimate goal of parenting is to let go. There’s a danger in caring more about our children’s protection than we do about providing them with a meaningful purpose. There is a danger in caring more about our children’s safety than we do their faith. When we become overly preoccupied with our children’s immediate physical and even emotional well-being, we can end up robbing them of necessary experiences, life lessons, and opportunities. (180)

The mission of the family is not to ultimately protect your children but to mobilize them to demonstrate God’s love to a broken world. (180)

All leaders and parents are called to lead their children to be the church, not to keep children in the church. When we simply protect and preserve, we make the same mistake the one servant made in the parable of the talents. We cover our children with our fear and lack of faith. We hinder their potential to make the kind of difference in the kingdom that they were designed to make. If you hope to parent beyond your capacity, then you need to connect your children to a mission that is greater than your capacity. (187)

— VIA —

What makes this book so excellent on multiple levels is that not only are these great lessons about parenting, these are fundamental human truths that are applicable to all aspects of life. Here are a few of my highlighted examples:

Tell a greater story | On page 181-182, they write about a story of Don Miller shared at one of the conferences they put on (links below). The big idea for a father who was struggling with a daughter dating someone of ill-repute was to stop yelling at her and putting on more restrictions because the story that is being told at home is a worse story than the one she was living with by being with her boyfriend. Stop telling that story, and tell a more compelling story. The father, taking the advice, decided to set the family on a mission, to raise $25,000 for an orphanage in Mexico. Not only did the family think dad was crazy, but they rallied together, used their resources (like MySpace), and the daughter ended up breaking up with the boyfriend. Why?

The heart will gravitate toward whatever offers adventure and significance. (182)

This is not just true for parenting. This is true for the journey of faith and why the Christian story needs to be retold.

A trusting relationship is the foundation of obedience | I so appreciated the foundation of the shema in this book (Deuteronomy 6). Very well done, and a brilliant exposition of the ways in which God has modeled this kind of trusting relationships prior to the command to obey.

Model the way | This is a fundamental leadership and life principle, and they do a great job illustrating this in the context of parenting. I very much appreciated their focus on the parent as the most critical focal point in the parenting process.

The value of both/and | Unfortunately, many if not most people swing pendulums far to other sides in order to compensate. I appreciate the authors’ willingness to say that both the church and the family are critical ingredients in raising our children. We need each other, and we ought to depend upon each other. Their respectful exhortation is very well done for both/and.

Thank you Joiner & Nieuwhof for this gift to our kids, and to the Kingdom of God.


Think Orange and the Orange Leader Handbook for churches

The Essence of Orange DVD