Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Review of "In This House We Will Giggle" by Courtney DeFeo

I'm always looking for inspiration and encouragement as I raise three energetic and unique little boys. The title of Courtney DeFeo's book, In This House We Will Giggle: Making Virtues, Love & Laughter a Daily Part of Your Family Life, attracted me because it signaled a book full of grace rather than legalistic "training." 

Each chapter in We Will Giggle is devoted to one of 12 virtues: love, joy, forgiveness, faith, patience, perseverance, respect, responsibility, service, humility, gratitude and generosity. These chapters begin with a short kid-friendly definition of the featured virtue before flowing into Courtney and her many mentors’ and friends’ thoughts on instilling this virtue into children.

In each chapter, DeFeo also offers a memory verse, talking points, and a lesson plan with discussion questions, a big family activity, shorter optional activities and a corresponding passage to read out of Sally Lloyd-Jones’ The Jesus Storybook Bible. There are also "60 Ways to Bring out the Giggles" sidebars sprinkled throughout the book. It was a lot to take in at first glance, and took me a couple of chapters before I settled into the rhythm of all the components. But instead of letting myself get overwhelmed, I took DeFeo’s advice from the preface to heart: “I encourage you to customize all these resources to fit the style and needs of your family, discarding anything that doesn’t work and mixing in your own creative ideas” (9).

What Spoke to Me
DeFeo’s chapters on Forgiveness, Patience, Perseverance and Humility especially resonated with me, as evidenced by the amount of my underlining, starring and scribbling in the margins. I was especially inspired by her prayer and vision for homes where “we hear their hearts and take responsibility for our part in any conflict. Homes where we never expect perfection but commit to continued growth, where we end difficult conversations with a hug, and where we always point one another back to the only perfect way: the love of Jesus” (51-52). Apologies are not just hollow niceties, but true forgiveness is a “bridge to personal freedom” with a focus on “building relationships” and “nurturing healthy hearts” (57). These are life lessons that many adults have never learned.

As a mom who often caves to every little whimper or trembling lip, I needed to hear DeFeo’s thoughts on the importance of instilling perseverance. The next time I’m tempted to rescue one of my sons from discomfort or struggle, I will have to borrow DeFeo’s line: “‘No, you cannot quit; take a break, but you must finish,’” in order to give them the “gift of character growth and a lifetime of hope” (117).

I’m also keen on her insights into the “tension between humility and confidence.” DeFeo says she never wants her girls to develop an attitude of superiority, yet she strives to raise them to be passionate in their identity in Christ and confident enough to “lead boldly from their gifts” (194). I’ve made this a part of my prayer for my sons as well.

What Didn't
I was a little disappointed that the idea of giggling as an addictive way to instill virtues and godly behavior wasn’t emphasized as much as I expected. I thought this would be the centerpiece of the book, but goofiness mostly appeared in the somewhat disjointed and distracting “60 Ways to Bring Out the Giggles” sidebars that peppered the already busy pages of the book. Having said that, I understand not every teaching moment can or should be full of raucous laughter. However, it made me think the title of the book was a ploy to set it apart from the many other great parenting books that present a similar message of grace.

Another little qualm I had stems from the fact that I’m raising three boys who love to wrestle, rough house or hole up in their rooms building with Legos for hours on end. They don’t care much about exploring their emotions or creating crafty gratitude tote bags or picture journals. (I wish they did, as that would be more fun for me!) DeFeo’s experience raising girls didn’t always translate to my own experience in the land of dirty hands and bug boxes. To her credit, DeFeo includes a few stories about her friend’s little boys. But overall, I found myself thinking, “I could never get this to work with mine.” And… regarding the book's visuals, the abundant daisy and curlicue design elements were a bit much for this minimalist designer’s taste.

My Take-Away
We Will Giggle has got my own creative juices flowing as I’m encouraged to teach virtues more deliberately in my own home. I like the idea of taking it slow, with one virtue emphasis per month, and plan to incorporate DeFeo’s simple, illuminating definitions and catch phrases into my own conversations. I would recommend this book to other moms, especially homeschooling mothers or even Sunday school teachers who are looking for interesting and generally low-budget activities and projects to help get kids thinking about and practicing the virtues Jesus exhibits.

*I received this book from Blogging ForBooks in exchange for an honest review.*

No comments:

Post a Comment