I ran across this book a couple of months ago and knew I had to have it!
Safe House, by Joshua Straub, PhD, explores an area of child-rearing that I don’t think I have ever see anyone touch on, at length: emotional safety. We often think of spiritual training, life skills training, academic skills training. But this topic, which seems so vital to me, isn’t something I’ve seen in literature or heard about in seminars. When I read about this book, however, I knew it was something I wanted to explore.
What exactly is a “Safe House?”
Dr. Straub defines a “safe house” as “a place where parents keep the end goal of raising emotionally safe kids in mind” (p. 9). The subtitle of this book also tells us a little more: “How Emotional Safety Is the Key to Raising Kids Who Live, Love, and Lead Well.” What a fine goal, right? We all know that we want our children to grow up to be emotionally/spiritually/mentally/physically healthy adults. But how exactly do we get them there? What sort of environment can we create in our homes to enable them to become emotionally healthy?
A safe house is also a place where, due to the interaction we have with our children and the leadership we provide as parents, they can grow up with the kinds of character that will enable them to become adults who know how to have healthy relationships; who will pursue excellence; who will understand that their behavior in relationships communicates as much as the spoken word.
I love the way Dr. Straub discusses a safe relationship. He describes it as one that shows love minus fear. We may not know exactly how to accomplish this kind of love, but there is actually a perfect model we can follow: the God of the Bible. Even knowing that unlike Him, we are not perfect, we can still learn from Him; even though we blow it and don’t always get it right, what if we just focus on being safe to our kids instead of being perfect?
How do we create a safe house for our families?
Here are some of the key ideas discussed in this book:
- A safe house begins with us as parents. Does our behavior assure our children that we love them, or that our love isn’t defined by their appearance or achievements, but that they’re worthy of love because of their very existence?
- How do I live so that I create a safe atmosphere in my home?
- What does my face communicate to my child; that there is a lot to fear or that there’s nothing to be afraid of?
- When we know and understand our own stories, we can enable our kids to write their stories from a healthy vantage point.
- What it looks like to be a secure parent, who can build the foundation of a safe house for their children.
What else will you find in Safe House?
Straub says that the essence of a safe house is to “drive out anxiety and fear from our homes” (p. 26). What if you grew up in an atmosphere of fear and anxiety? Knowing our own stories, and the essences of them, can help us to move forward in truth. We personally can work with the Lord on these issues, releasing our own fears or worries to Him in prayer and trusting Him, and walking forward in His peace.
I love this! Fears and anxieties can pop up when we least expect them. Dealing with them in a healthy way before our children helps us and them while also contributing to our home being a safe and beautiful place.
Dr. Straub also discusses these ideas:
- The science of safe places and our kids’ brains
- How we can build a safe place in our own home
- Boundaries, protection, overprotection
- Grace and truth
- and much more
Wrapping things up
Last night, my husband and I introduced our middle-school-aged son for the first time to a movie that the two of us have loved for a long time: the Bruce Willis movie of 2000, The Kid. What a story of transformation and redemption! During a crucial scene as Willis’ character is speaking with Jean Smart’s (wiser) character, he asks her what she would do if she met herself as a child. She answers, if she (as a girl) wanted to know everything that was going to happen to her?, and he says “Yes.” Smart goes on to say words to the effect of “Baby girl, everything’s just going to be great.” Of course, she’s not talking about parenting. But like Safe House, her character sees the importance of communicating safety–not worry or fear–to the child version of herself.
What an example of what a safe house can look like.
I so recommend this book for every parent out there who’d like to create a lovely and safe place for their own children to dwell. It’s a big job; but as parents it is OUR job to do. This book will help you so much; you’ll learn not only about healing and yourself, but about all you can do with your own kiddos and their life stories. Safe House is the real-life living out of one of my favorite Bible verses:
“I will lie down and sleep in peace
for you alone, O LORD
make me dwell in safety.”
For don’t all of us, child or adult, long for those safe places to dwell?
I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.