5 Minutes for Books – “Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture”

This review is authored by regular contributor Jennifer Donovan, book lover and mother of two of book lovers, who blogs at Snapshot.

I have to admit that when I hear the phrase “postmodern culture” especially in conjunction with the “emergent church,” my stomach clenches a bit. But I have loved Mary DeMuth’s perspective on parenting in her books Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God (which I reviewed in our first 5 Minutes for Book column), and Building the Christian Family You Never Had, so I knew that I wanted to read her new book Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture.

This book did not disappoint. My interview with Mary DeMuth that follows will hopefully give you more insight into her parenting philosophy as well as the term postmodern. Not everyone has adopted postmodern thinking, but it is something that will affect our children. It’s not (all) bad, just different. The term in itself is not a harmful one. Some of the ideas can be harmful within a Christian worldview, which is why it’s important to know more about it. After reading the book, I realize that my parenting has already embraced some of these changes (which is evidenced in something I recently wrote on my own blog about the role of children in Children Should Be Seen and Heard). I’m sure that if I keep my mind and heart open, I will continue to evolve with the culture in some ways, while remaining steadfast in areas which I know that the Lord would not want me to change or compromise.

JD: What does postmodern mean? And why should it matter to parents?

MD: Postmodernism is the waiting room between what used to be a modern worldview and what will be. According to several postmodern scholars, we’re in a shift right now, leaving modern ideas behind, but what we are shifting to is not yet fully defined. Postmoderns believe that rationalism and/or more education doesn’t necessarily create a better society. They typically don’t embrace the notion of absolute truth, though they reach for the transcendent. They are skeptical, and often question whether science is something to be embraced or feared.

The question for parents is how will we mine the current worldview, even as it shifts? What in it can we embrace as biblical? What is not biblical? What I’ve seen in the church is a fearful adherence to what is familiar. So we cling to modern ideas, even though they may not be biblical and shun postmodern ideas even when they might be biblical. Our children will meet this shifting worldview no matter what our opinion of it is.

JD: Does a cultural shift matter? What happens if we don’t change our perspective on parenting as the world around us has? What happens when we do?

The shift matters because our kids will face that world. The key is preparing them well. How? We have to understand the culture, even if it means going out of our comfort zone to figure it out. But, it’s not so scary. Maybe just think about it as the same-old, same-old generation gap. It will exist. We will view life differently. But we can still engage our children. The most important thing is to love your kids wildly, to provide a safe home where they can fall apart or rejoice, and to be available when they want to process.

If we stubbornly don’t change our perspective, we may see a rift in our relationship with our kids. Some worry if we capitulate to our culture, we’re giving in and becoming weak parents. I’m not talking about abdicating our role as parents and becoming chummy with our kids to be cool. I’m simply advocating parents try their darnedest to walk around in their kids shoes a bit, to understand their world. Maybe it really boils down to empathy.

JD: How can we as parents figure out what works best for us and our own children without worrying about what others think, if we might be going against the norm in our particular group?

MD: Oh that’s a hard one. Go to Jesus. Trust Him for your family. Rest in His direction. And let the naysayers say their naysaying. We got plenty of that when we put our kids directly into French schools. Believe me, it was agonizing. I’m still grieving that time. But it was the direction we felt the Lord leading us to go. We saw miracles. We saw our kids in perhaps the most difficult school situation in the world still learn to thrive. They clung to Jesus. Nothing, nothing, nothing can take that away from them. They learned that Jesus is near even in the most difficult situations.

JD: I love how you often admit to apologizing to your kids when you make a mistake. It’s something that I have to do often as well. Do you remember a change in your parenting theory that allowed you to do this, or was it always a part of your parenting style?

MD: I grew up in a home where nary an apology was uttered. This was crazy-making. I grew up with a terrible sense that I was what was wrong with the world. I determined to not continue that pattern. I want my children to know that I’m human, that they’re not always to blame, that mommies fail too. I also don’t want to show myself as perfect to my kids. Otherwise, why would I need Jesus? I don’t want them to think Christianity is a bunch of dos and don’ts. I want them to fall in love with Jesus. If they think it’s all about personal perfection, they just might miss Him.

The author has donated a copy of this book (for U.S. or Canadian addresses), so if you’d like to win, leave a comment by Friday.

Congrats to the winner of last week’s drawing for Fat Proof Your Family:

Michele at Life in the Old Pueblo


  1. Jenn in AZ says

    Thank you for the chance at winning this book! This sounds interesting…I need to read it through before I can say I agree totally with it. That is what makes a compelling book!

    Jenn in AZ (hometeachinatcox.net)

  2. says

    This looks like a book that would have some great insights into helping your children be in but not of the world. Please enter me in the contest, thanks!

  3. says

    I probably need to read this book, because I love what she said about wanting her children to fall in love with Jesus and that Christianity isn’t just a bunch of dos and don’ts. Count me in on the giveaway!

  4. says

    Would love to be entered. Love to read any parenting book I can get my hands on. I figure we can always use any help/advice we can get to become the best parents God intends us to be.

  5. says

    Thanks so much for your honest review. I so appreciate it. I need to say that the “waiting room” metaphor to postmodernism is something my friend Will Samson coined.

    Blessings to you all,

  6. says

    This looks like a very good book. I am always looking to read about ways to be a better parent and to help my children lean on Christ in a world that does not. Thanks for such a great review!

  7. says

    Sounds like a book that would be a good read!
    I’d lie to throw out, I am so good at apologizing to my children too! And it’s nice to know I’m not the only one who has to do that. But I make mistakes, and I feel bad, and I don’t want my kids to feel bad about my mistakes so I think that apology is an important step. Also, I have one perfectionist child who thinks she must be perfect all the time. Especially for her, I think she needs to see me be imperfect because it gives her a little more breathing room to accept herself when she isn’t perfect, kwim?

  8. says

    Please count me in! I too like the idea of apologies… definitely an imperfect parent, I grew up a bit of a perfectionist. I’d like to push against this trend where my little one is concerned.

  9. says

    Mary is a delightful person. I’ve had a couple of conversations with her via email, and was so moved, inspired and enlightened by “Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God”.

    I’d love to have this book.

  10. says

    After discussing my husband’s study of a postmodern world view with him at length and after hearing him teach several classes on it, I think a book like this is most needful. I look forward to getting a copy and reading it! I definitely need to know how to instruct my child to deal with the shift in culture while still following the teaching of Christ!

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