Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages--Review and Author Interview
by Jeri Carr
I recently had the opportunity to read L.R. Knost's book Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages (A Little Hearts Handbook). Her book provides a basic, yet thorough, guidebook for gentle parenting. She starts at the newborn stage and goes all the way up through the teen years and into adulthood. It's an enjoyable, quick read at 103 information-packed pages long. In it she gently presents a strong case for gentle parenting and shares helpful, practical wisdom, presenting gentle parenting in a way that makes it doable. She speaks with a calm, reassuring voice, encouraging parents to live what they want their children to learn, to build strong and healthy connections with their children, and to enjoy their children, plus, importantly, she shares ways to help make these things happen. One highlight of the book is her chapter on The Problem with Punishment (which can be read online). Two Thousand Kisses is a wonderful introduction to gentle parenting.
Though Two Thousand Kisses isn't written specifically for a Christian audience, L.R. Knost is a Christian mom, and her book is very compatible with Christian views. I thought it would be encouraging to hear more from her about being an experienced, Christian mom of many children, so I asked her some questions, which she graciously answered as you see below.
Jeri: As a mother of six, with children from age 25 years down to 25 months, you have experience parenting through all of the ages and stages. In your book you share your thoughts in a beautifully relaxed way that comes from experience and the confidence of having seen first-hand that "yes, this way of parenting works!" It's very reassuring. Looking back over your years of parenting, can you think of anything that you would do differently?
L.R. Knost: One of my favorite quotes is from Maya Angelou, “We do the best we can with what we know, and when we know better, we do better.” There are things I’d love a parenting ‘redo’ for each and every day. I’m human and that means not a day goes by that I don’t fail in some way or another. I’ve learned through the years that by giving myself grace I’m not only freed from the destructive effects of that age-old mommy-guilt, but I’m also modeling a healthy relationship with God for my children. As they see me openly accepting the fact that I’m not perfect and need forgiveness daily, they learn that it’s okay for them not to be perfect and that they can always come to me (and God!) with their hurts and failures instead of feeling like they need to hide in shame.
Jeri: Have there ever been times when you doubted that you should parent this way?
L.R. Knost: No. The opposition I’ve faced from the mainstream parenting community through the years both in my own parenting and my parent mentoring and coaching has driven me to thoroughly research and define my parenting beliefs, but has never caused me to doubt the effectiveness and simple goodness of parenting with kindness and gentleness.
Jeri: Are there any specific parenting experiences that stick out in your mind that have shown you without a shadow of a doubt that God wants you to parent this way?
L.R. Knost: One thing no one will ever hear me say is that my parenting style is “God’s way.” God didn’t write my book. I did. He gave us His book, the Bible, and I use that as my guide in everything to the best of my ability. But ‘my ability’ is subject to human reasoning and interpretation, which by its very nature is limited. I will only say that I seek with all my heart to raise my children by following the example Jesus set in His interactions with His disciples…His kindness, understanding, gentleness, connectedness, provision, etc. He was honest and open. He taught them. He lived with them. He laughed with them. He never hurt or shamed them. That is my parenting guide.
Jeri: Would you be willing to share some good fruit you seen in the lives of your older children and your relationship with them that you believe are a result of gentle parenting?
L.R. Knost: My oldest two are, respectively, a happily married Pastor with two adorable children of his own and a happily married Family Therapist with a high-stress social services job working doggedly to protect children from the fallout of unfortunate parenting choices. My next oldest is graduating this year with a pre-med degree in BioMedical Sciences before heading into med school, but even with an incredibly tough university schedule he takes the time each week to go to a local teen hang-out spot and work in an outreach ministry he created and has been building for the last year. All of them, along with my younger children, have tender hearts that feel others’ pain and discouragement deeply, and all of them seek every opportunity to reach out with a helping hand, a kind heart, and a friendly smile.
Jeri: Have you always believed in gentle parenting? What made you decide to start parenting this way? What would you tell a mother who has been given all sorts of dire warnings of bad things that will happen to her children if she doesn’t spank and get her children “under control” as soon as possible?
L.R. Knost: I shared my journey to gentle parenting on another tour stop this week, and it answers all of these questions and a few more. My journey wasn’t a brief one, by any means, so I’ll simply link it here if your readers would like to read it, if that’s okay: The Birth Story of a Book.
Jeri: How would you encourage a mother who is feeling discouraged and worried that she has failed as a parent?
L.R. Knost: Slow down and take some time to really examine your parenting choices. Look to see if you are parenting reflexively (reacting, feeling out-of-control, following parenting patterns set by your own parents or others) or if you are parenting intentionally (making conscious parenting choices you are comfortable with and truly believe in). If you’ve been parenting reflexively, start making conscious choices today. Start by listening, really listening, to your children whether they are whining or tattling or tantruming or yelling. Just listen. Hear their hearts. Respond to that instead of to their actions. That is the first and most important step in gentle parenting.
Jeri: Where would you recommend someone start who is trying to search and find out if God wants them to follow this path for parenting their children?
L.R. Knost: Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages ends with a chapter detailing twelve steps to slowly and intentionally begin to work toward becoming a gentle, peaceful parent. The first step is to take a month and slow down; cut out any activities you can to simplify your life; and give yourself the room to grow into a new, more connected relationship with your children. That is a great place to start…slow down, simplify, and connect.
Children’s book and parenting author, L.R.Knost, is an independent child development researcher and founder and director of the advocacy and consulting group, Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources. A mother of six, her children range from 25- years down to 25-months-old. Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages is the first in her Little Hearts Handbooks series of parenting guides. Other works by this award-winning author include the Wisdom For Little Hearts and the soon-to-be-released Grumpykins children’s picture book series for ages 2 to 6, which are humorous and engaging tools for parents, teachers, and caregivers to use in implementing gentle parenting techniques in their homes and schools. You can visit her website at Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources.
Copyright 1997-2015 by Gentle Christian Mothers™
Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.