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Bless This Mess summary

Molly Baskette and Ellen O’Donnell

A Modern Guide to Faith and Parenting in a Chaotic World

4.1 (65 ratings)
25 mins

Brief summary

Bless This Mess by Molly Baskette and Ellen O’Donnell is a humorous and compassionate guide to living a more spiritual life in today’s messy world. It offers practical advice on how to find meaning and purpose in everyday life, and how to cultivate a deeper sense of gratitude and joy.

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    Bless This Mess
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    Instead of trying to remodel your children, adapt your parenting style to better suit their personalities. 

    For too long, Christian parenting has relied on one all-too-familiar proverb: “Spare the rod and spoil the child.” Fortunately, most of us disagree with that piece of “advice” these days – and the Bible has more to say about child-rearing than just that.

    We can find an alternative attitude worth imitating in another Biblical proverb: “Train children the right way, and when grown, they will not stray.” What makes this statement especially interesting is that the language of the original Hebrew version seems to recommend raising our kids “in accordance with their own character.” 

    This nuance is significant. Raising children with, rather than against, the grain of their characters involves discerning each child’s uniqueness – and then changing our own style of parenting accordingly. In other words, we need to tailor our parenting methods to fit our children, rather than trying to force them into complying with a one-size-fits-all method.

    Taking this advice to heart entails considering a number of important questions: Who are these children God has given us? What are their individual strengths? What are their inclinations? And what can we, as parents, do to work with their God-given temperaments?

    One of the problems we can run into when addressing these questions is ego-involvement. This term describes parents’ tendency to over-identify with the successes and failures of their children. And while it’s only natural that we root for our kids – wanting them to do well and meet their goals – we must be careful not to cross the line by replacing their dreams with our own. In short, we must avoid being too ego-involved.

    In practice, this might mean learning the difference between wanting your daughter to receive a good education for her own benefit, and wanting her to go to Harvard to satisfy your ambitions. Alternatively, it might mean learning that your son will never be the academic type, and that working with his hands is what will make him happiest in life. 

    Relinquishing control over your children’s aims for the future can be difficult, but soul-searching of this kind is the first step in starting to change our methods of child-rearing. By separating our kids’ true temperaments and inclinations from our own imaginary ideals, we can begin to formulate new parenting strategies from the ground up. 

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    What is Bless This Mess about?

    Bless This Mess (2019) is a parents’ guide to raising Christian children in a bewildering age. Combining spiritual wisdom with the latest thought in child psychology, the authors aim to show that there’s no reason to think of the terms “progressive” and “Christian” as contradictory when it comes to child-rearing.

    Bless This Mess Review

    Bless This Mess (2020) by Molly Baskette and Ellen O'Donnell is a refreshingly honest guide on finding spirituality in the modern world. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • Offers practical wisdom on navigating the chaos of everyday life and finding meaning amidst the messiness.
    • Combines personal stories, theological insights, and practical exercises to provide a holistic approach to spirituality.
    • Breaks away from traditional religious norms and embraces a modern, inclusive perspective, making it relatable to a wide range of readers.

    Best quote from Bless This Mess

    Natural rewards are usually enough.

    —Molly Baskette and Ellen O’Donnell
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    Who should read Bless This Mess?

    • Prospective parents who want to raise their children to be both Christian and progressive
    • Current parents who have lost touch with their own childhood faith
    • Anyone interested in twenty-first century Christianity

    About the Author

    Rev. Molly Baskette is the senior minister at First Congregational Church of Berkeley, California, and has written books on a wide range of topics – including public confession, coping with grief, and the revitalization of churches. Her recent works include Standing Naked Before God and Real Good Church. Ellen O’Donnell has a PhD in clinical psychology and is a child psychologist at Massachusetts General Hospital for Children and Shriners Hospital for Children in Boston. She also works as an instructor at Harvard Medical School and has authored a number of scholarly articles in academic journals, such as the Journal of Youth and Adolescence.

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    Bless This Mess FAQs 

    What is the main message of Bless This Mess?

    The main message of Bless This Mess is learning to find meaning and joy in the messiness of life.

    How long does it take to read Bless This Mess?

    The estimated reading time for Bless This Mess varies depending on the reader's pace. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just a few minutes.

    Is Bless This Mess a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Bless This Mess is worth reading because it offers insightful and humorous perspectives on embracing imperfections and finding spiritual meaning in everyday chaos.

    Who is the author of Bless This Mess?

    The authors of Bless This Mess are Molly Baskette and Ellen O'Donnell.

    What to read after Bless This Mess?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Bless This Mess, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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