Give Them Graceby: Elyse M. Fitzpatrick & Jessica Thompson published by: Crossway copyright: 2011 169 pages
This book provides a much needed, yet rarely discussed, message to Christian parents. It reminds parents of what's truly important when it comes to raising their children. Unlike most books on the topic, it gives practical advice on how to implement what the authors are talking about.
The book starts out in the introduction asking the question what does "Christian" parenting look like and how does it function differently than other methods. Page 18 says it this way:
There's no easy way to say it, but it must be said: parents and churches are not passing on a robust Christian faith and an accompanying commitment to the church. ... the primary reason the majority of kids from Christian homes stray from the faith is that they never really heard it or had it to begin with.
As a parent, statements like that hurt, because of the truthfulness of them. One of the main reasons we don't teach our kids about the Gospel and about grace is that it's not truly in our hearts as parents; or at least not as deep as it should be. Most parents, even believing parents, focus more on obedience and behavior than on gospel and grace. We try to give them law instead of grace. The authors remind us that:
The law of God, although beneficial and beautiful, cannot advance us on our way to righteousness because we cannot obey it. (pg. 35)
Feeling defeated as a parent yet? I was, but then the authors reminded me as the reader that my job is to be faithful to the task of parenting, granting faith to our kids is left to the only One who can do it: God. Parents remember: Grace always wins over law. This grace needs to be in you before it can be in them. Be faithful to what God has called you to and trust that God will do what only He can, change their hearts.
The second section of the book gets really practical. The authors have developed a model of discipline that is extremely helpful. It consists of 5 categories that are moved through depending on the situation. They are: 1. Management - A parent's "... effort to control outward behavior" (pg. 89). 2. Nurturing - the feeding "of their souls with gospel truths of how Jesus provided everything they need" (pg. 89). 3. Training - Learning to apply gospel truths to circumstances and finding appropriate responses. 4. Correction - Correction "... in the context of what Jesus has already done for them and His great love for them" (pg. 91) 5. Promises - Reminding them that God's promises never fail. The authors are quick to remind readers that these are categories to think and pray through not steps to be taken each time we interact with our kids. From this point to the end of the book, the authors continue to get more and more practical with these categories.
My conclusion This is a great book with a message parents need to hear. Without nullifying the need for rules, authority and discipline; these authors get to the heart of parenting. Being faithful to the gospel and the message of grace, and then waiting on God to do what only He can, change our children's hearts.
I would recommend this book for individual study or group study. The chapters are short enough to read, and re-read and the authors have provided questions at the end of each chapter for reflection and discussion.
One final quote:
When we forget the gospel and feel guilty about it, we are completely missing the point of the gospel. Our ultimate joy as parents is not dependent on our ability to parent well. God's smile on us is not contingent upon anything other than the record of the beloved Son. It is based on our belief that Jesus has already done it all perfectly for us. Grace means resting in Jesus' blood and righteousness. (pg. 162)
Get this book! It's practical! Read it carefully and apply what it says! It will change your parenting!
This book was given to me by Crossway for the purposes of this review.