“Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.”
Proverbs 22:6 (NLT)
Being a parent is hard! And, being a Christian parent in a worldly society is even harder. As time goes by and my daughter gets closer to teenage years, we find ourselves at a crossroads between living in cultural norms and Scriptural truth. While I know that the perfect parenting handbook does not exist, over the years I’ve read many parenting books that gave me good insight and ideas to try when I didn’t know what to do. I recently read The Gospel & Parenting by Russell Moore and Andrew T. Walker, and found some fresh ideas on how the Gospel fits into parenting.
While most parenting books give practical ideas for how to handle different situations, this book makes a clear connection with how parenting and the Gospel fit together. Some of the most revolutionary points I gained are:
- Because our role as parents is to teach our children the Gospel, “our children are, first and foremost, our potential or actual brothers and sisters in Christ.” (28) This was a “Wow!” moment for me because I’ve always thought of myself as “Caroline’s mom,” not her sister. But since we are both Christians, according to God’s word we are sisters in Christ! I’m still an authority figure in her life because God made me to be her mom, but I can also remember to follow Biblical principles like speaking truth into her life, confessing sin in my life, and disciplining and discipling her as I would another Christian.
- Culture tells us that our kids’ behavior reflects our parenting skills. Most people take this idea and internalize it to reflect their identity. If I’m a good parent, I’m a good person, but if I’m a bad parent, I’m not a good person. This idea, counter to what the Bible says (our identity is based on God’s grace, not our performance), has caused parents to focus on raising kids that look good on the “outside.” Instead of this Pharisaic idea, the authors explain, “The Christian parent’s goal is not good kids — it is gospel kids. The Christian parent’s goal in discipline is not low-maintenance, well-mannered children, but gospel proclamation.” (p. 88) Regardless of a child’s manners, our main goal as parents is to guide them in Christian principles.
- Our role as Christian parents is to train our children toward physical and moral courage. This goes against the “American parenting manifesto: Be nice, be happy and be safe.” (92) Of all the ideas I read in this book, this one was the most intriguing to me. I felt convicted in that I’ve told my daughter to be nice, I’ve always wanted her to be happy, and I’ve prayed for her safety on many an occasion. But this book reminded me that no one ever called Jesus nice or happy, and if we don’t teach our children that they are not always a winner this will lead to self-consciousness and discontentment in them. Our children need to know truth, even if it’s pointing out one of their weaknesses, and they need to be encouraged to stand up for others, even when risk is involved.
If you are a Christian who wants to be a better parent and who wants to understand how some of the parenting breakdowns in our society have occurred, you will gain wisdom from this book. Every main point in the book is supported by Scripture and clear examples to which all parents can relate. This book is unique in that it includes information for church leaders to gain a better understanding of what parents and families in their church need most (and it’s not more programs). Just more than 100 pages, it is an easy read for the busy person.
*I recently joined B&H Bloggers and will be reviewing books on occasion. This is my first book review, and the opinions are entirely my own.