Cover Image: Take Back Your Family

Take Back Your Family

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This one is not for the faint of heart. I found it to be divisive rather than building up and encouraging readers. While not everyone will agree with the ideas, the theology outlined in this book isn’t theology - it is one persons interpretation and ideas on family. Which is import to keep in mind when reading this genre.
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I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This book was fantastic. The Bethke family gives such good applicable advice on how to make your family a priority and to make your family a team.
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Take Back Your Family by Jefferson Bethke is a look at the western family unit and how it can be radically altered for good. Drawing on research and anecdotes, the author explains how isolating western families have become. Instead, he proposes a different format to raise kids. This is such an interesting book and I highly recommend it to parents. I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher with no obligations. These opinions are entirely my own.
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Thank you to Nelson Books and NetGalley for allowing me to review this book. My thoughts are my own.

I am not a theologian by any means, but I was brought up in a Christian family and have attended church all my life. I do a lot of reading of various subjects and feel I have a grounded viewpoint of life.

Fairly early on, I began questioning his position...mainly with his scathing attack on the traditional, nuclear family. In fact, I would say the first 75% of the book is his manifesto against the traditional American family and conservatives. As a conservative who was raised in a traditional, nuclear family and who is raising the next generation, I can't help to be offended by his condescending put downs.  

While he takes a couple of shots at liberals, this is a book against traditional western culture. It's difficult to see any good coming out of a book with such polarizing views. 

Some of my problems with this book include:
- A simplification of the nuclear family and putting it into a box, the box of 1950s-1960s "patriarchal domination". If I might say, the Bible speaks to the nuclear family in Genesis. Genesis 2:24-25 reads, "Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife...(ESV version)" So, unless you're going to tell me my surface-level understanding of the Bible is incorrect, I don't see how you can deny God's plan from the beginning of creation.
- A simplification of the nuclear family as a means to promote self only and not look out for the good of the family unit. While I am sure this is true in some cases, I don't think he can make a blanket statement that this is how it looks and acts and feels.
- He looks at the conservative family unit as obsolete and unattainable. I would say the converse is true. There is a rise in conservative families who are trying to take back the family unit.
- He brings in social economics, a big red flag for me as to where he wants to head.
- He reduces American marriage to divorce, which again, I think this is a huge blanket statement to make. 
- He criticizes the mom staying at home, when he states that is own wife is a homeschooling mother. To say that "every" conservative mom is just staying at home and slaving away is unfair and untrue.
- He sites Carle Zimmerman, who says "the nuclear family" is a sign of culture collapse, which doesn't sound so different from the conservative view that when you take away the  the family, you see the beginning of a civilization's collapse. However, it's all in the speak, isn't it.
- He talks about the multigenerational family at the beginning of the book, going so far as to give hypothetical examples as well as real life examples. But never does he say how to put it into action.

I found myself more angry at the audacity of this book than cheering with its politicized statements. I don't know any conservative who would stand behind or with his underwhelming review of the conservative American family. 

Like I said, this covers the first 75% of the book. The last 25% feels like a book on time management with very surface level instructions that are not articulated well. But, If there were any redeeming qualities, they would be:
- centering life around the home (I just don't think I see it the way Bethke does)
- Asking questions of our children and teens to get to know them better and see how they fit within the family and how to spur greatness in them
- Intentionality in raising our kids
- Figuring out your family mission statement and taking steps in faith to make it real

Bethke made waves in 2012 with his spoken word viral video of Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus. His anti-religious views have put him in the limelight time and again. To understand his mentors, Bethke features a recommended reading list in his book Jesus>Religion. The list includes the likes of Mark Driscoll (of Mars Hill fame), Timothy Keller, Andy Stanley, N.T. Wright and Beth Moore ("Anti-Religion Jeff Bethke Hits the News Again - New Book, Same Message: 'Imagine No Religion'". Lighthouse Trails Research, 2013). 

Interesting company.

Now, I'll tell you a secret. I didn't realize I reviewed a book by his wife until after I finished Take Back Your Family. I'll share more about this later.

Christianity divides. It draws sides and makes sides known.. Why? I believe, and think most traditionalists would agree that there are absolutes within the Christian faith. You can see good and evil. Based on God's word, you can identify the things you should follow and the things you shouldn't.  And there are many today who do not like these absolutes. That's why there is such a push to create a new Gospel, in large part to take the Bible out of these progressive churches and to make Christianity more "user-friendly". 

Based on his previous writing and his 2012 viral video, it's hard not to see Bethke as a progressive Christian. And, I had no clue to this fact before I picked up his newest release.

If you're a progressive Christian or one who is being swayed that way, you'll appreciate his communal, group speak. Although he speaks out against the disintegration of the family, it's from the perspective that American exceptionalism is wrong. 

Now, given Bethke's difficult upbringing, I can understand his jaded viewpoint and limited understanding of the traditional, conservative family. He goes as far to say that he knows people (wealthy people, privileged people), who came from the traditional nuclear family who came out much worse for wear. To which I reply, don't thrown the baby out with the bath water. 

I call it sin. We live in a fallen world. Regardless of what your family of origin looked like, I can assure you there was dysfunction there. Family dynamics are family dynamics. We're never going to find a way around that with sin in the world. 

So, I guess, you could "take what you like and leave the rest", but I urge caution when reading this book. When I saw the title, it looked interesting. I do think there are things that can improve the family, but not to the point of creating something contrary to the Bible because "secular sources" say so.
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Unfortunately the writing style is so youthful and ranty that I cannot finish. This is why sometimes I struggle with influencers writing books - they may just need to take a deep breath and reformulate how to express themselves to reach a wider audience. One moment the author is calling ideas "dumb" and "absurd" and in the next breath he starts rambling about inheritances. At one point he asks, can you even name one great-grandparent??? Well, yes...I can name them all if I really thought about it, I can name multiple generations on one side actually. I'm not sure. I thought this would be the book for me but unfortunately it's not meant to reach a broad audience, especially those who already value their family and their family history and have for a long time.
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Jefferson Bethke is just one of those people with a passion and a vision that is hard not to be captivated by. I was initially intrigued by this after reading Hunt, Gather, Parent and my continued interest in all things community. So much of the mess that seems to plague our culture stems from hyper-individualism and a lack of concern for our neighbors. I feel like Bethke addresses this in a practical and refreshing way. I'll be thinking about it for a long time.
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I really enjoyed reading Take Back Your Family by Jefferson Bethke.  As I parent of young children, I would love to have the family they described. I was fascinated by how the modern nuclear family came to be and the drawbacks of that. I love that Jefferson is calling us back to a larger vision of family. I would loved a little more practical tips but I loved how he casted the vision. I recommend this to all families. It will give you some great things to think about.
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I really enjoyed Jeff’s new book, Take Back Your Family. As always, he has thoughtful research that lays the foundation for the book as well as actual ways to implement the changes or processes that he suggests the reader to think about implementing, I also liked that he gives ideas for all different types of families instead of just a “normal” one. Well done!
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If you are looking for a "how to" book this is not the book.  If you are looking for a book to get you thinking this is the book.  I loved that this book left me with more questions than answers.  I recommend this book for those curious about what it would look like to do family differently.  The author takes you through his journey thus far (spoiler: it's just beginning).  In addition, he shares stories of families who live outside the mold.  I appreciate that he touches on the fact that families can look many different ways.   The one thing I would have liked to see is a mention of families with no kids whether married or single.
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Jefferson Bethke is one of my favorites and I admire the way he raises his family. I was so excited to read this book and it did not disappoint! Jeff gives readers facts about how family culture has shifted over history. I loved learning more about this concept. 

This book shows readers how to create their own family team and reshape their view of family. I gleaned so much from this book and hope to implement it with my littles. I loved the real life stories of people who courageously took the step to make this change. 

All in all, this is a fantastic book that everyone should read!
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So many incredible points made. Lots to think on and try to process to find out what will work for our family but I love the idea of teams.
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If you’re tired of feeling like life is just a list of to-dos and you’re struggling to find meaning and purpose for your family, this book is for you! With two young kids and all the challenges we’ve personally faced in the last 18+ months (pandemic, isolation, shift in work culture...), the ideas in this book have been life-giving. We’re shifting the family narrative from a ‘me-mentality’ to a ‘we-mentality’, the Waibel Team. We desire to be a family that lives on mission and has a multigenerational impact, and to work as a team on that journey. This book gives practical tools to be better coaches towards that vision.

The ideas in the book will likely be challenging and may change the context and perspective of everything you ever thought about what family means. Personally as a father, I've seen my role as provider, but Jeff pushes back on the nuclear ideal that a father's role is only to provide financially. I'm a coach that needs to be present in providing my family with the high support and expectations they need to succeed.

The research and historical information Jeff has provided helped me understand just how much the cards are stacked against fostering a family culture of contribution instead of consumption. I'm excited to look back in five or 10 years and reflect on instrumental this book was in shaping our Team into what it will be then.
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I have mixed feelings about this book. On one hand, it is a great idea to define your family as a "team" and to have the mentality that if it isn't good for the team, you should not do it as a family. It is also great to realize that pulling apart the family has hurtful consequences for everyone.

However, I found specific application lacking. For example, his wife used to hate being left alone with their small children (who also hated when daddy left) while he went away for work on trips. Then somehow, miraculously, she didn't mind anymore (and neither did the kids!) when they reframed his trips as something he did for the family team. This made no sense to me.

I think men would like this book and probably get something out of it - especially given the sports references and the fact that men look at their families as a unit/team much less than women do, so it would help their perspective. However, I got a lot more out of reading the essay that Bethke frequently quotes in the book (found for free online if you look up "Wendell Barry Feminism").

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for a free digital copy of this book.
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Wow! I was really blown away by this book. Honestly, I was thinking exactly what Jefferson addressed in the beginning of the book…how can someone with such a young family write a book about family? BUT, I loved his response and the humility and boldness to write what he felt like God has made a passion of his. I loved the themes of team and putting the correct emphasis on how to do family. I highly recommend this book for parents, grandparents, pastors, children and youth ministers, and even teachers. It’s a great, engaging read on vitally important topic in today’s Church and world. 

I received this book from NetGalley. My opinions are my own.
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A great and very educational book challenging the modern (and highly individualistic) family of the West. 

I learned so much but was also left with hope that I can effect change and bring restoration to my own family.

Always a fan of Jefferson Bethke and his direct but compassionate communication style. 

Highly recommend and not just for parents, this book is for everyone!
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This book was such a refreshing view on family that can be valuable to anyone regardless of religious beliefs. There were great stories and statistics backing up all of the points along with practical ideas for ways to implement change with your own family. The whole book felt motivational and inspiring and made me want to be better, I never felt shamed for how I have been failing currently. I highly recommend and will definitely be passing this book on to young married couples!
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Americans are individualistic to a fault--even within our families! Jefferson Bethke invites us into a new, different, and better way. What if our families were more connected? What if we acted like a team? Leaning on the examples of ancient cultures, as well as sports teams, he gives solid advice and actionable steps for an intergenerational, healthy family culture.
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This book is a fairly quick read, but it definitely packs a punch! The first half describes current cultural trends, the history of the family, and how we got here. The second half is full of practical advice on how to build a family team - a group of people all utilizing their skills and talents to contribute to the family mission. I love the concept of a family team works that together towards a common purpose, rather than being a place where individuals come to check out after a long day at work. Jeff writes in a conversational, engaging style and includes plenty of research, examples, and context to back up what he is saying. 

This book would be beneficial to anyone with a family - newlyweds or young parents, parents of teenagers, or single people who hope to have children someday (even single people are already part of a family!). I highly recommend it!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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This new book, Take Bake Your Family ~From the Tyrants of Burnout, Busyness, Individualism, and the Nuclear Ideal by Jefferson Bethke is about how families should be living as God intended. The author takes a walk back in history in where families started to change, comparing the western family with families from other countries, and the challenges we are facing in the modern technical world we live in. This book makes some great points that are definitely worth reading and pondering on. I definitely see the issues and how families have changed over the years and how we can learn from history, other countries, and definitely how God intended families to be. I did have a hard time every time he said the word team, that is just not a work I relate to with, but I got the point he was making. This is not necessarily a new way to live but looking at the ancient way to do family. Which I agree with!

The first half of the book is about the impact of the Industrial Revolution had on families. I found it very interesting! The last half has lots of suggestions, implementation, God’s design for families, and examples from other families in how they are changing their families.

Issues he writes about is how we have become an individualized culture, consumption monsters, and this has affected our lives! We think that individualism is a strong goal but it often time can separate families. The need for both parents to work simply out of necessity is the norm in our current culture. The western ideal is luxury. Western families are built to consume, to have more, to make it bigger, to spend more. Whatever we chase, forms us! It seems everything we do points to families being built to last but our families are failing, fracturing, self-destructing.

He stated, the ancient picture of family was a robust, inter-generational, complex, and enormously helpful web of relationships where the most vulnerable and downtrodden were welcomed, protected, and given a safety net. A great point he made is home should get the best of everyone’s talents and skills, before work or school or anything else we do. The goal is to make home the orbiting force from what we do. Great questions to ponder on. Is home the center? Is home the headquarters? Is home the heartbeat for everything else? Our families should have a mission that focus on what does God have for you in this season, year, and life. Which will save us from bad decisions, bad direction, and will give us hope!
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This book is such a breath of fresh air among all the the noise telling us to hustle more, do more and focus more on ourselves. I'm so thankful to have stumbled on Jeff's work during a season when my own soul was burned out and searching for a different way to live and to lead my family. This book sheds light on how we arrived where we have in this hyper-individualistic culture where family feels like more of a burden than a blessing and where collectively we feel exhausted, stressed and burned out. It used to be the norm to live in multi-generational households where all of the various tasks and financial burdens required to manage a household were shared among many with various skill levels and wisdom. Then, through the industrial revolution, several factors led us into a more disintegrated family model. Now we live in a society where we try to do more with less manpower, we have to work multiple jobs just to keep up with the bills and to consume more and more things that are marketed to us as "must-haves, and we do all of this without the wisdom of our elders because we have pushed them into nursing homes. Jeff lays out a beautiful vision of returning to our ancient roots and God's intended design for family, one that structures the family as more of a team on a mission. He challenges the reader to think about how our unique identities and skills can bless our families instead of our current cultural model of using our skills to achieve more. I absolutely love the vision this book has given my husband and I for our own family and already feel more joy and fulfillment in our lives as we shift our focus from individual purpose to a more team centered family were we are led by one collective team mission. I will be recommending this book to absolutely everyone I know.
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