Recommended Reading

From Dr Jenny Brown

‘Confident Parenting’

By Jenny Brown

This little book is not focused on understanding your child. Instead, it is all about focusing on managing yourself as a parent. The ideas are based on research findings that reveal that the more a parent leans on ‘experts’ to tell them how to understand and influence their child the less confident they are about themselves as a parent leader. A well-intentioned focus on helping or fixing a child can easily lead to a confused and intense parent-child relationship where the child becomes reactive to their parent’s monitoring. In this small book, Dr. Jenny Brown presents some big ideas about a different pathway to effective parenting. Based on her research and Dr. Murray Bowen’s family systems theory she uses real examples to illustrate how parents recover their clarity and confidence, and in turn help their children to grow into responsibly resilient young people.

‘Bowen Family Systems Theory in Christian Ministry: Grappling with theory and its application through a biblical lens’

Editors Jenny Brown and Lauren Errington

Bowen Family Systems Theory in Christian Ministry: Grappling with theory and its application through a biblical lens brings together the voices of Christian leaders and workers who have engaged Bowen theory in their ministry contexts—churches, schools, workplaces, and pastoral care situations.

Christian ministry inevitably involves working with, and for, a wide range of people. And where there are people, there are a plethora of relationships. Many of these relationships bring joy, while others are fraught and frustrated. This raises questions about when and how to turn to psychological relationship theories for assistance. When we hold a high view of the Bible’s wisdom, we want to take care to ensure that secular ideas do not contradict or replace biblical guidance.

This book provides a strong intellectual consideration of where Bowen theory may be compatible with a biblical view and where it may be in tension. Additionally, it discusses the usefulness of Dr Murray Bowen’s theory to the practical aspects of working with different relationships in Christian ministries. We trust it provides rich fodder for grappling with family systems, or indeed any secular theory, as it relates to Christian ministry and biblical truth.

‘Growing Yourself Up’

By Jenny Brown

“This book is an excellent resource for those interested in pursuing greater emotional maturity in their relationships (and those learning to help others do so). In short, a wonderfully clear, thoughtful and engaging read. I recommend it highly.”

– Elizabeth A. Skowron, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Counseling Psychology, Pennsylvania State University



‘A Diary of Everyday Growing Up Opportunities’

A blog by Dr Jenny Brown

Dr Jenny Brown is a best-selling author, educator, and the founder of the Family Systems Institute in Sydney, Australia. She has a number of published articles and book chapters on aspects of family systems which can be found on her blog: ‘A Diary of Everyday Growing Up Opportunities’.

Visit the blog here.


Top Recommendations

About Bowen Family Systems Theory

  • Bowen, M. (1978). Family Therapy in Clinical Practice. Jason Aronson: New York.
  • Bowen, M. & Kerr, M. (1988). Family Evaluation: The role of the family as an emotional unit that governs individual behaviour and development. W.W.Norton: New York.
  • Gilbert, R. M. (2006). The Eight Concepts of Bowen Theory. Leading Systems Press
  • Kerr, M. (2019). Bowen Theory’s Secrets: Revealing the hidden life of families. W.Norton: New York.



  • Brown, J. (2014). Growing Yourself Up: How to bring your best to all of life’s relationships. Exile Publishing: Sydney.
  • Smith, K. (2018). Everything Isn’t Terrible: Conquer your insecurities, interrupt your anxiety and finally calm down.
  • Gilbert, R. M. (1992). Extraordinary Relationships. New York, John Wiley
  • Lerner, H. (1988). The Dance of Anger. New York, Harper & Row
  • Lerner, H. (1990). The Dance of Intimacy. New York, Harper & Row
  • Lerner, H. (2003). The Dance of Connection. New York, Harper & Row



  • Brown, J. (2019). Confident Parenting.
  • Gilbert, R. M. (1999). Connecting with Our Children. New York, John Wiley.


Family of Origin

  • Harrison, V. (2018). The Family Diagram and Family Research: An Illustrated Guide to tools for working on differentiation of self in one’s family.
  • Richardson, R. (1995). Family Ties that Bind: A self help guide to change through family of origin therapy. Self Counsel Press. USA, Canada


Leadership and organisations

  • Baker, Katherine & Fox, Leslie. 2009. Leading a Business in Anxious Times.
  • Gilbert, Roberta M.D Extraordinary Leadership. Order here
  • Gilbert, R.M. (2009). The Cornerstone Concept: In Leadership. In Life. Leading Systems Press.
  • Miller Jeffrey. The Anxious Organization: Why Smart Companies Do Dumb Things.


Systems in Ministry

  • Brown, J. & Errington, L. (eds. 2019). Bowen Family Systems Theory in Christian Ministry: Grappling with Theory and its Application Through a Biblical Lens. The Family Systems Practice
  • Creech, R. R. (2019). Family Systems and Congregational Life: A Map for Ministry. Grand Rapids, Michigan, Baker Academic
  • Gilbert, R. M. (2006). Extraordinary Leadership: Thinking Systems, Making a Difference. Leading Systems Press
  • Steinke, P. L. (2006). Congregational Leadership in Anxious Times: Being Calm and Courageous No Matter What. Lanham, Maryland, Rowman & Littlefield

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