We recently caught up with Oasis' author, Shaunti Feldhahn. Her book titles include For Men Only, For Women Only, and her most recent, For Parents Only. The former two are guides on how men and women are unique and how they should relate and communicate. We wanted to learn more about her ministry and how these books apply to African culture. Here is the interview. Enjoy!
Shaunti, we hear from our partnering bookstores that your books For Women Only, For Men Only, and now, For Parents Only are having an extraordinary impact. Tell us more about these books and the heart that you have for Africa.
I’m so pleased to hear that these books are having such a great impact. You know, the topics of gender and parenting have universal reach. This is not simply cultural specific material that applies only in the U.S., but it relates to the whole world. I hear from my close Nigerian and South African friends, constantly, that the research I’m conducting and the findings are benefitting them as well. There are some things that are just true about how men and women are wired and it persists no matter where in the world we live. It brings me such joy to hear that men and women’s relationships around the globe are being strengthened because clearer lines of communication are being cultivated.
My books are based on the large amount of social research that I’ve conducted. For instance, I’ve done interviews with hundreds of men about their communication styles, their marriages, and their frustrations to get a better idea of how men process information. At times, at the end of these interviews, I’ve had the chance to share with these individual men some of my findings. I’ve witnessed strong, dare I say, macho-types tear up, feeling understood for perhaps for the first time. I’m able to articulate for men (in this case, but women too) what they’ve struggled so long to express. See, God has wired our brains distinctly as male and female. We’re truly wired differently. Women, for example, do tend to be able to conduct mental multi-tasking far better than men.
Because I have small children I am not able to travel oversees easily. For the time being, Jeff and I focus our time on marriage seminars in the US and developing our website with greater resources and online tools for couples and for parents.
But, I’m excited to hear about the transformation in Africa – just as excited as I would be to hear that men and women who live outside suburban Atlanta are being changed. All of our marriages can have hurts and pains resolved through some of this greater understanding. In the same way, the truths of the Bible are the same across all peoples, all times, and all cultures. And the mandate that God gives men and women – husbands love your wives and wives respect your husbands – is the same no matter the time or the continent. The message of love and respect is the same whether you are a suburban mother, or an African farmer, or a woman living in downtown Jos, Nigeria.
Shaunti, the latest book that we are distributing in Africa is For Parent’s Only. Can you tell us more about the making of this book and its audience?
Yes, this book is really about getting inside the minds of your kids and understanding where they are coming from. It’s geared toward the parents of youth and teenagers . These would be youth between the ages of 11 and 18 – those children who are still at home with their parents, but who are becoming increasingly independent.
So often, I see that parents of these youth have forgotten what it means to be 13…15…17 years old. They don’t get what matters to their children. They don’t understand the increasing ache for freedom. Because of this, they so frequently misunderstand their children, misinterpreting their desire to separate their identity from mom and dad. This book is designed to help parents wake up to the desires, interests, and ability of their children to be independent. For example, this book speaks to the misnomer of why teens are “allowed” to be emotional, in their mind, but why parents are not. My hope is that, through this book, parents are able to really understand the realities about growing up that, albeit surprising, are true about all children. If some of these struggles are kept hidden, it will cause them to be disconnected from their child.
To write this book, I surveyed thousands of teens. And I wrote this book in collaboration with Lisa Rice, who at the time had teenage children. The scenarios laid out in the book were the very realities that Lisa was living out each day and which I’m now living out with my daughter as she gets older and as she asks herself questions about what she believes.
Through the writing of this book and as I speak with groups of parents about my social research, I, time and again, claim the promise of Proverbs 24:3 which says, “By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.” To me, this proverb is a picture of an empty house and the question it begs is: “What fills the house? What’s going to fill your house? Is it going to be joy, peace, and delight as you work toward open communication? Or, is it going to be discord?”
My hope is that this book will equip people with the knowledge of what’s going on inside their teen’s mind but they are unable to communicate.