Alison Armstrong: Keys to the Kingdom

Simple, Sweet Stages of Male Development:
How to Cope and Support Males at Each Stage

I enjoyed this book. Armstrong uses a simple story line to introduce the stages of male development. This book rang true about the stages of male development and how to respond at each stage. While it could be viewed as anti feminist, it feels like she captures meaningful differences between men and women and treats them in a very respectful way. Even though it is a little cutesy, she also shows how loving, passionate and very happy marriages can go off the tracks with competing male and female expectations about relationships.

I was struck by how many men wrote on Amazon that they liked the book. I would have hesitated to ask a male to read it, assuming they wouldn’t be interested. Some things she describes in the book I had discovered with my own husband and sons because I wanted so much to understand them, some came from my Clinical Psychology training and practice. This book puts it together in a simple, little package. My friends who are happily married and “get” their sons seem to get her messages. I wish I had read it sooner. I have already recommended to clients. Click here to purchase.

Real Life, Real Families

Real Life Real FamiliesReal Life, Real Families: new study launched

 Family life getting frenetic? Real Life, Real Families: Listen & Talk Series 1 is a new study piece from MennoMedia for small groups, Sunday school classes and parenting groups ( A leader’s guide comes with three CDs (or audio downloads) of interviews with real families or experts on child care dilemmas, parenting after divorce, media issues and more. The study is based on Shaping Families radio programs. For more info or to order, call 1-800-245-7894 U.S. and 1-800-631-6536 Canada.

My interview is included in Unit 2, Session 1, “Surviving Parenting.”

 “The family arguably has the most profound impact on child development,” says Brenda Jones Harden in a study looking at stability for foster children and published in Future of Children Journal (Winter, 2004) from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University/Brookings Institution. “Children are more likely to have trusting relationships with caregivers who are consistent and nurturing, which leads to a number of positive developmental outcomes,” says Harden.

 From a Christian perspective, “We know that family life is important to individuals, churches, and the broader community,” says Amy Gingerich, director of print media for MennoMedia. “We hope this new study piece will enhance conversation using the real stories of families and experts on family topics. The audio pieces can serve as a springboard for conversation—sometimes on difficult topics.” Audio segments range in length between three and eight minutes.

 The curriculum features interviews with Ken Medema, Carol Ummel Lindquist, Gloria Rhodes, and Kirsten Klassen, among others. It also includes inspirational “My Turn” segments by rotating Shaping Families speakers, Natalie Francisco, Steve Carpenter, Rebecca Thatcher Murcia, Harvey Yoder, Sam Heatwole, and Emily Ralph.

 Structured into three units of four lessons each, the curriculum is flexible so that groups can use as many or as few lessons as they want. Units include: “Seeds for Healthy Families,” “Raising Children,” and “Families in Today’s Culture.” Topics include marriage, divorce, intergenerational families, memories, early parenthood, working and parenting, media, substance abuse, family meal time, and teaching peace to children. The leader’s guide includes Scripture passages, Bible backgrounds, suggestions for gathering times, discussion questions, and ideas for closing moments.

 The curriculum comes with a printed leader’s guide for 12 sessions with three audio CDs or in a downloadable format. It is available for $34.95 for a print leader’s guide with CDs, or $19.95 downloadable online. A sample lesson and audio interview can be found at To order, call 1-800-245-7894 (U.S.) or 1-800-631-6535 (Canada).

 Shaping Families is a 15-minute weekly radio program heard in the U.S. and Canada on 21 stations and online at MennoMedia is an agency of Mennonite Church USA and Mennonite Church Canada producing media resources for living Christian faith.