Sandra and Andy Stanley were not perfect parents and did not raise perfect kids. That’s why they’re willing to write about their experiences in hopes of helping other families.
Because Stanley is the well-known pastor of North Point Church in Atlanta, their family has lived in a fishbowl, Sandra noted.
“Honestly, it is frightening to think of writing a book because you’re already in a little bit of a fishbowl, and then when you write a book on parenting, you feel like everybody’s kind of evaluating all that,” she explained. “So we’re always so quick to say, OK, look: We were not perfect parents. We did not have perfect kids. But there’s some things we learned along the way that as we are looking back from where we are now, we realized might be helpful to some other parents.”
The couple co-authored Parenting: Getting It Right.
“Each of us took a chapter where we felt like we could drill down based on personal experience, and obviously we talked through all of this, but it was really fun,” Andy said. “Sandra is a really, really good writer and a super insightful person.”
Andy was raised in the home of another highly visible Baptist pastor, Charles Stanley. Andy and Sandra married in 1988 and raised three children — Andrew, Garrett and Allison — who are young adults today.
“I don’t know that the kids have read the final manuscript, but we definitely involved them in the process,” Andy explained. “We would call them, chat with them, and make sure we got some details right on stories and stuff like that. … We’re now in this empty-nester season with kids who love us and love each other; who want to be with us and want to be with each other. Even now when they don’t have to be anymore. We have a good time as a family, and they’re excited about the book.”
Andy and Sandra each enjoyed reflecting on their own childhoods as they wrote the book together, they said. Sandra grew up in a rather large family and is the daughter of a member of the U.S. armed services. Andy grew up as a “preacher’s kid,” except that the preacher was one of America’s most well-known pastors.
Despite what outsiders might have assumed, Andy believes his father consistently choose him above his own ministry and reputation.
“I never felt like I was competing with his ministry,” the younger Stanley said. “I never felt as a preacher’s kid like I was competing with the church. I tell a story in the book that may be worth the price of the book. There was an incident when I was in the eighth grade, however many years ago that was, that was so defining for me. I can still remember specifically what my dad said in the moment. It clarified for me where I stood in relationship to my dad’s reputation. I realized I am more important to him than his reputation at the church and more important to him than his reputation in the community.”
Sandra prayed for God to give her a vision for her family, which underscores the Stanleys’ collective focus on being intentional about raising their children.
In the book, the Stanleys suggest four seasons of relationship children and parents go through. Sandra testifies the work of parenting does not end when children grow up and leave home.
“I remember in that season really beginning to pray and say, ‘God, would you just begin giving me some vision for the next season of my life?’ And that was helpful, to know my life as a mom, even though the heavy duty parenting years are going to come to a close, I’ve still got a lot to do. I just asked God to begin birthing … (to give) me some vision for what would come next. And he was faithful to do that. We started on the foster care journey as a result of that. But in every season, there are so many unique joys, and you will find the ones that will be just so great.”
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