This is one of only two parenting books I’ve ever read that I would say is solidly centered on the gospel. Many I’ve read have good advice, helpful information, and I’d even say there may be some that contain nothing in particular I would disagree with. But this book, and the other parenting book I whole-heartedly recommend, Shepherding a Child’s Heart, are completely centered on the gospel. The authors want to communicate the full gospel message in everything they do.
It’s been a while since I’ve read this book. I am SO bad at my commitment to write about every book I read. But it is interesting to think what sticks out in my head months since I’ve opened the book. Some that stick out are these:
1) Communicating the gospel every time you’re disciplining your children. There are very helpful examples throughout the book of how to do this. The lengthiness of them was a bit overwhelming to me, though it was surely a fault of mine (an inability to take in that much at once?) than a fault of the authors, as they were very clear that the examples were not meant to be memorized or used consistently at full length.
2) In one particular example, as the authors attempt to communicate the gospel while disciplining, they point out that the child is acting as if getting what he or she wants is what will make them happy, but God clearly states that He is what will make them happy, and that putting ourselves first will not, in fact, satisfy us. This one little idea tucked into one example has helped to clarify so many situations for me. A simple, “selfishness is wrong”, while true, is quite unsatisfying to a person who wants what he wants when he wants it. And to simply “try not to be selfish” is the kind of white-knuckling-it faith that the gospel (thank God!!) replaces. Instead of “don’t be selfish”, I have the privilege of helping my children to understand that “you think that will make you happy; I totally understand that feeling! But if you have to act in a sinful way to get it, then I PROMISE you it will not make you happy, because that is not how God designed us.” And I can confidently say I have had to give myself this lecture more than I have had to give it to my kids.
3) This one’s is a bit random, but they state that we don’t want to be known as the weird neighbors that hate everything the neighborhood likes, we want to be known as the weird neighbors that are overflowing with joy and love. I just love this. Partially because it’s funny, but more so because it can be very difficult in a sincere effort to be holy not to slide into being more defined by what we hate than by what we love. (I just looked up that passage, and 4 months later it is incredibly close to verbatim! That one really stuck with me.)
4) I also remember thinking at least once that this was as much a devotional book, or a needed sermon, as it was a parenting book. If it had been reading it under different circumstances, I think I’ve would’ve slowed it down, journaled along side it, and let a lot more soak in. I will definitely need a reread to do just that. As it was, the book fell into my hands (or more accurately, my mailbox) literally hours before leaving on a road trip where I would find hours and hours to myself. So I read the book in 3 days. 🙂
As I hold the book, I see there’s a lot more dog ears than the 4 things listed above, including some impressive origami pages where I needed to point corners at several passages on one page, so I guess that just solidifies the need for a reread!