Susan Merrill, blogger and director of the parenting website iMom.com, didn’t set out to write a book, but she was looking for answers as she and her husband, Mark, parented their five children ranging in age from 16 to 22.
“We have five incredibly different children, biological and adopted, strong-willed and compliant, creative and analytical, introverted and extroverted,” says Merrill. “I’ve spent a lot of time looking for an overall approach to parenting that would help me to know if I am getting it right as a mom. I found an amazing amount of information about personality, age and environment, but nothing that would give me confidence that I was doing a good job.”
Surprisingly, Merrill found the answers to her parenting questions in the Old Testament book of Nehemiah.
“Nehemiah realized he could not control the outcome of a situation, but he could control his own performance,” she says. “He loved his people and knew they needed a wall to protect them and provide them with hope for the future. Our kids don’t need literal walls, but they do need protection, provision and hope for the future.”
From her study of Nehemiah, a book for moms was born, “The Passionate Mom: Dare to Parent in Today’s World.” While Nehemiah used bricks and mortar to build the wall and gate, Merrill introduces “10 P’s” that she believes are the “bricks” for effective parenting: perception, pondering, passion, prayer, patience, preparation, purpose, planning, problem solving and perseverance. The mortar is your character, made up of qualities such as love, humility, discernment, determination and self-control.
“Moms are the provider of training for life so your children will be able to navigate the world independent of you,” says Merrill. “We also, along with fathers, provide protection from the world. The ultimate goal is to raise wise children who become independent adults with a promising future.”
Many parents are under the impression that their children will need them more when they are younger. Merrill confesses she was one of them … until her children became teenagers and she realized they needed her just as much, if not more, than they did when they were toddlers.
“Change and uncertainty are as common in the world today as in Nehemiah’s time,” says Merrill. “No matter what the era, parenting children has always required fortitude. There is nothing new under the sun. Do not allow yourself to fall into the trap of feeling alone in your struggles.”
The key is to develop a parenting plan utilizing the 10 P’s. Merrill recommends a three-step process to formulate and execute your plan — Assess, Confirm and Team-build (ACT). Assess your child and determine your goal. Confirm your strategy by listening and watching, then set about building your team with persuasiveness, love and passion.
“My hope is that moms out there like me, who were uncertain about their parenting, after reading the book will find hope, help and confirmation that they have what it takes to be a passionate mom,” says Merrill.
Julie Baumgardner is president and CEO of First Things First. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.