[Book Review] Have a New Kid by Friday

Dr. Kevin Leman published Have a New Kid by Friday in 2008. Being a parent (and a Children's Pastor at that time), I bought it when it was new. But since I have a nasty habit of buying more books than I can read, here was another example of a book that sat on my shelf for years before I figured it was time to read it.

I finally picked it up late last year. There were two things that I "knew" about this book before I bought and read it:
  • I was sure that the author didn't really mean what he wrote in the subtitle, that you could "change your child's attitude, behavior, and character in 5 days." It was just a marketing ploy. 
  • Since Dr. Leman was lauded as a popular and successful "Christian" author and speaker, I was sure that this book would be a mix of Bible-based theology plus practical application.
Unfortunately, I was wrong on both counts.

I'll Keep It Brief

I was going to write a long list of pros and cons about Have a New Kid by Friday, but I'm not going to waste my time, or yours.

The truth is that there are heaps of practical suggestions throughout this book. Plus, two-thirds of the book is an alphabetical list of common parenting issues, each with illustrations and suggestions. Some of these can be helpful, but I find many of them harmful, anti-biblical, and anti-gospel.

I was shocked throughout this book at Leman's behavior modification techniques. He flatly says that "children are like pigeons." Absolutely not! Children have souls and spirits, while animals don't. And I was shocked when it dawned on me that the author expects that real change (and good change) can happen in 5 days or less.

Sure, if you have been struggling in your parent-child relationship, some of these techniques and principles will be helpful. But I would be very hesitant to recommend supposed "life-changing" techniques that don't have room for or need the gospel of Jesus Christ.

If we could have life change outside of God's truth and grace, then why would the Father need to send Jesus to die? Sure, many people would counter this question. But how does a supposed "Christian" author answer it?

That's when it dawned on me. Dr. Leman wrote this book with one purpose -- to attract a desperate audience and sell his books. He says he follows God, but I don't see any kind of God-centered worldview in this book.

A Better Way

In a brief discussion about this book, a friend of mine said, "I don't want a new kid. I want my kid redeemed!" She's right. If there is any kind of new child that I want, it's that I want my child to be a new creation in Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).

I put this book in the same category (at best) as Parenting By the Book (John Rosemond). Both are written by "pop psychologists" whose apparent goals are to sell books and to appeal to overworked and overstressed mothers.

If you want a book that will help you focus on the gospel in parenting, buy Shepherding a Child's Heart. And if you want a book that combines the gospel with practical application, I highly recommend "Don't Make Me Count to Three!"

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