Stepping out of the normal genre reviewed at A Library is a Hospital for the Mind, Don't Make Me Count to Three! is a non-fiction parenting book for mothers. As a disclaimer, I admit I am generally not a fan of parenting books or advice books. I find so many of current parenting, advice, or even devotional books tend to be of little help. Often times the author comes across as bossy and superior, shallow, or downright bizarre. But every now and then I come across a book that reaches to me where I am for that moment.
You might say Don't Make Me Count to Three! happened along at just the right moment. I was lent a copy by a friend and young mother, who in turn had picked it up upon the recommendation of a mutual friend and mother of ten. I have a lot of respect for the mother of ten and thought I'd give the book a chance.
The author, Ginger Plowman is a mother of two and the founder of Preparing the Way Ministries, which focuses on encouraging and counseling women on a number of topics, including parenting. I don't know Mrs. Plowman or her ministry personally, but from my brief encounter with her through this book and a little online research, it appears she is a woman who has a true relationship with God and seeks to follow His counsel as laid out in the Holy Bible.
Don't Make Me Count to Three! specifically focuses on parenting from the mother's perspective. The subtitle of the book is: "A Mom's Look at Heart-Oriented Discipline" which is the main focus of this book. While Plowman does address various parenting styles, including the infamous "Don't make count to three!" and "Wait till we get home!" her goal is to help guide mothers towards a parenting style that puts an end to threats, repetition of commands, and the raising of voices and instead apply scripture in a practical way to training children.
As part of this book Plowman does discuss spanking, and is pro-spanking, but she clearly details what she believes are the boundaries of both scripturally, physically, and emotionally appropriate spanking. However, spanking is not the emphasis of her training and even anti-spanking parents should be able to glean helpful advice from this book. What is emphasized is the parent taking time to work with each child to teach them what God expects and instructs them to do and how to put those instructions into action through proper behavior, attitudes, outlook, and speech.
While not all parents will agree with everything Mrs. Plowman shares I found that her advice and counsel was logical (i.e. well-balanced) and founded on scripture. Overall I did enjoy the book. As a reader, I found the writing style easy to read and the chapters simple, but stocked full of information. This is one of those books that ends up more as a reference than a one-time read. On a personal level I found Plowman's advice as encouragement to me as a mother. I don't want my toddler to just act right, I want her to desire to do right as she grows older. I want to be able to interact with her -- to talk and listen -- and really get to know her as a person. And yes, that means not threatening, repeating myself, or raising my voice. Most of all I want her to be obedient to her parents and to God.
On that note, I want to point out that this book is for any parent interested in help with training and discipline, but there isn't a lot of detailed advice for parents of really young children. While there are some great tips for practicing while the child is young (i.e. teaching them to come when they are called, the first time, etc.) most of the instruction is aimed at parents of children 2 years and older -- in other words, children who are able to verbally interact with their parents. But this shouldn't discourage mothers from reading this book, as I said, there are some great tips that can be used for toddlers and the rest can be filed away and referenced as needed.
On a scale of 1 to 5 I'd rate this book a 4. I liked it and I thought it was solid, helpful, and encouraging to parents. Mrs. Plowman comes across as a real mother and very down to earth, not at all preachy or superior. It is doubtful that every library has a copy, but used copies are available for less than $8 on Amazon.
I should also note that fans of Ted Tripp's Shepherding a Child's Heart may find Don't Make Me Count to Three! of particular interest since Mrs. Plowman does include a couple quotes by Tripp. Although I have not Shepherding a Child's Heart I have not heard much, if any, negative feedback.