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Helping Families Stay Together

4th October 2013

Review of All-In2night

Lynne Burgess

Published by Even Before Publishing/Wombat books. 140 pages

This volume is a sequel to this author’s earlier publication  All-In Night, in which Lynne Burgess promotes a regular night each week where the whole family stays home and participates in a special activity with a treat (usually a dessert) to follow.  The book is based on a concept that the author has actually put into practice with her own family of five children. In the dedication, Lynne Burgess writes that the “book is for parents who want their children to experience a relationship with Jesus so they can live a bold and victorious life, no matter what the circumstances”.

There are 40 activities involving an amazing array of what I would call psychological variables: self-esteem, courage, loneliness, patience, empathy, confidence, self-sabotaging, revenge, enthusiasm and so on. For each topic, the author provides a purpose so that the aim is clear to the parent who is leading the activity. These nights are not held in school holidays so that both the parents and the children have a break: hence, the 40 weeks. It is interesting to note that the author reports that her adult children who have left home still come back on Monday nights for All-in night.

For the topic courage, the purpose is “to help your child to develop courage so that they have the ability to face difficulties”; for priorities in life, the purpose is “to teach your child to understand priorities in their life and that priorities can change through different phases of life”; for pride, the purpose is “to explain what unhealthy pride is and to teach your children how to deal with it”. The purpose is generally followed by an explanation of the concept under consideration.

There is often a Scripture verse or verses to be shared with children to help them understand the biblical basis of the lesson. For self esteem, the verses are Psalm 139: 13-14; for eating healthy food, the verse is 1 Cor 6: 19; for patience, the verses are James 1: 2-5; for fear, Joshua 1: 9; for worry, Proverbs 12: 25. I was surprised at some of the topics that didn’t have a biblical verse, and was not sure why. Examples included ‘unhealthy pride’, ‘humility’, ‘jealousy’, ‘guilt and shame’, ‘criticism’ and ‘God has a unique purpose for your life’.  

I think this book could be very useful for families of primary-school children, combining as it does, fun and serious learning about oneself and others.  It is important to remember that these characteristics are produced in young people over years of stable, loving parenting and not in a single session focusing on a particular characteristic.  

Patricia Noller                                                         

Emeritus Professor, School of Pyschology at the University of Queensland



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