Take Back Your Family
from the Tyrants of Burnout, Busyness, Individualism, & the Nuclear Ideal
By Jefferson Bethke
It’s embarrassing to admit this, but with all the reading I do, I don’t read many books geared towards parenting and motherhood. Even when I was a new mom, I read only a few books from that genre.
I don’t know what it was, but I never really gravitated towards the content put out by popular mommy bloggers, naptime ninjas, child-rearing gurus and the like. Instead, I chose to prioritize my personal spiritual growth through studying God’s Word, attending a weekly women’s small group, and applying everything I learned directly to my role as mom. It’s possible that wasn’t the wisest decision I could have made, but after having twelve years of parenting under my belt, I do feel quite confident in the bibically-rooted upbringing my children are receiving as well as the God-centered family life my husband and I have cultivated.
I preface this because I wasn’t actively searching for parenting books when I stumbled upon Take Back Your Family from the Tyrants of Burnout, Busyness, Individualism, & the Nuclear Ideal by Jefferson Bethke. In fact, there’s a decent chance I may have never encountered this book if my friends and I hadn’t chosen to tune in to Jefferson and Alyssa Bethke’s Take Back Your Family breakout session during IF: Gathering 2022. When I discovered the breakout session was a spinoff of Bethke’s latest book, I wanted to learn more about the author’s counter-cultural approach for establishing and maintaining a family that flourishes in Christ.
Bethke argues productive and technological advancements (occurring since the Industrial Revolution and continuing through the present era), along with a hyper-individualistic society obsessed with busyness and decadence, have created a culture of energy depleted, relationship-hungry, unstable, chaotic, and in some situations, broken or toxic, family relationships, environments, and ideals.
But it kinda makes sense, doesn’t it? Machines replacing manual labor. Women entering the workforce. The cost of living gradually increasing to a place where families need two incomes to make ends meet. College education becoming nearly a necessity for anyone pursuing a strong and stable income. And then factor in the creation of the Internet along with dependance on personal technology devices…a culture consumed with consuming…an increase in student expectations and an emphasis on academic and/or athletic achievement…naturally, daily life became busier and more stressful even though societal progression promised life to be more convenient, easily accessible, and constantly connectable.
I have to ask – How is that working for the modern-day family?
The beginning of Take Back Your Family makes the idea of family sound quite depressing, destructive, and perhaps even unnecessary. With so many negatives depicted (that are rooted in factual data and statistics), it is no wonder that Millennials and Gen Zers are delaying starting a family or opting to forgo marriage, 2.5 kids, and the suburban house in the desirable neighborhood with “accredited” schools in exchange for singlehood, delayed adulthood, or an individualistic “selfie” lifestyle. (Dogs can satisfy every longing one has for a committed relationship or a deep desire to nurture and provide, right?)
Good news for us – Bethke offers a way to go against the grain while developing a family that activates God-given potential for Kingdom-oriented purpose.
Throughout Take Back Your Family, Bethke encourages families to consider themselves as a team and details what a successful family team looks like. For instance,
- Teams support each other, even when they disagree, disapprove, or disappoint. Period.
- Teams utilize everyone’s skillsets to the best of their ability
- Teams pick each other up when they are down
- Teams establish a daily “game plan” or weekly “practice” schedule for organization, consistency, and responsibility
- Teams honor the same mission and pursue the same goals in order to “win”
- Teams eliminate self-centered individualism in favor of a united “team” mentality
- Teams welcome “coaching” (i.e. wisdom, accountability, assistance, etc.) to grow and strengthen their God-given abilities
- Plus many other applicable “team-minded” concepts
The biggest takeaway from Take Back Your Family is recognizing that the Western ideal of a nuclear family is not working and many families are falling apart. Bethke thoroughly details numerous factors for the deterioration of the American family all the while redirecting the reader towards God’s blueprint for family using scriptural support, real-life stories from families of Jefferson and Alyssa Bethke’s Family Team ministry, historical and cultural context, differences between families in the modern world versus the ancient world and more.
I was especially compelled by the idea of multi-generational families existing together as one, larger team on mission for the Kingdom. Even though multi-generational families seem outdated, overwhelming, or invasive, it is a new yet ancient way to do family that has produced more positives than anything ever seen or experienced in the traditional Western family model.
I also appreciated the depth of research conducted by the author as well as the angle he wrote from and the truth he didn’t steer away from. That is, objective truth rooted in God’s Word, historical fact, and recorded statistical data. Take Back Your Family challenges the reader to think, contemplate their personal beliefs and evaluate their priorities and lifestyle decisions. As I mentioned in the beginning of this review, Bethke’s perspective coupled with his approach to consider the family unit as a team, made this book different from other parenting books currently on the market. It is well worth the read.
I found Take Back Your Family to be an incredible book and, in all honesty, that kinda surprised me. If you’re not familiar with him or his ministry, Bethke can be a bit of a spit-fire in the sense that he has a lot of energy, a lot to say with never enough time to say it and he can get easily distracted or quickly side-tracked onto a different topic. When listening to him or watching him speak, it can be difficult to pay attention to what he’s saying let alone absorb the message he’s teaching or the content he’s communicating. I’ve heard Bethke speak a few times over the years and every time I walk away feeling like his message was strong, practical, applicable, real, and honest, yet it couldn’t fully be received because of the pace he spoke or the distractive manner he presented.
I highly recommend this book for any parent, grandparent, or guardian, regardless of your age, season of life or family relationship. I believe many families will be healed, restored, reconciled, rebuilt, or firmly established because of this book. Even if your biological family is broken, toxic, wayward, physically distant, or non-existent, Take Back Your Family will remind you that those who follow Christ will always be a part of God’s family. I believe everyone who reads this book will be inspired to develop a family team that can live on mission to honor and serve God’s Kingdom on Earth as they prepare for Heaven.
*I personally purchased this book. Any thoughts or opinions expressed are my very own.