I recently read Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus, a parenting book written by Elyse Fitzpatrick and her daughter, Jessica Thompson.
The basic premise of this book is found on page 18:
“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. They were taught that God wants them to be good, that poor Jesus is sad when they disobey, and that asking Jesus into their heart is the breadth and depth of the gospel message.”
Fitzpatrick and Thompson repeatedly stress this truth: as Christians, we are saved by grace, not by obeying the law. However, as Christian parents, many times we overemphasize the importance of the law to our kids to the neglect of telling them about the grace God freely gives.
I underlined so much in this book. Here are some of my favorite quotations in the book:
“Every faithful parent must give their children guidance, direction, rules, and commands. What we are saying is that these things are not to be the primary theme of our teaching. The primary theme is to be Jesus Christ and the work he’s already done.” (page 28-29)
“Even though our children cannot and will not obey God’s law, we need to teach it to them again and again. And when they tell us that they can’t love God or others in this way, we are not to argue with them. We are to agree with them and tell them of their need for a Savior.” (page 35)
“The one encouragement we can always give our children (and one another) is that God is more powerful than our sin, and he’s strong enough to make us want to do the right thing. […] Our encouragement should always stimulate praise for God’s grace rather than for our goodness.” (similar quotation in When Sinners Say ‘I Do’) (page 43)
“When we so desperately want our children to be good that we’re alternately angry, fearful, proud, or sullen, then our desire for their transformation has become the god we serve.” (page 56)
“What’s truly amazing is that Jesus Christ loves both rule breakers and rule keepers. And because of his Son’s perfect obedience, both of them can be called “beloved sons.”” (page 74)
“Parenting methods that assume or ignore the gospel are not Christian. The gospel must hold the center in all we think, do, and say with our kids.” (page 100)
“Guilt never motivates us to do anything wildly loving.” (page 131)
“Sometimes the Holy Spirit reminds me that I can pray with confidence that he will be changed, not because of my great prayers or parenting but because this is what God is working towards also.” (page 138)
“God’s sustaining power is seen and developed in our weakness and failure.” (page 151)
“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 simply means resting in Jesus’s blood and righteousness.” (page 162)
One concern I have about the book is that I did not sense much of an emphasis on “reaping and sowing” as a parent. Throughout the book, there is a continual emphasis towards trusting in the grace of Jesus and not attempting to change the heart of your child.
While it is undeniably true that God is the only one who can change my child’s heart, I would be neglecting my God-given duty if I used that truth as a reason not to pursue their heart for Christ. (sidenote: I don’t know if the authors and I disagree on this point. However, I did not see an emphasis of this truth in their book, so I wanted to mention it.)
Give Them Grace challenged my thinking as a Christian, not just as a mom. My role as a Mom to Anna Grace & Nate is to be constantly pointing them to Jesus – during planned and unplanned teaching moments. The only way that can happen authentically is if I am continually pointing myself back to Christ. Otherwise, I’ll just be hypocritically talking about how “Jesus is in control of our day” while inwardly seething that my schedule is ruined.
Really, it all comes down to being more like Christ. Resting in His grace. Trusting in His strength. And rejoicing in His perfect love.
Would you like to read Give Them Grace? If so, you can find it on Amazon right now for about $10 buckaroos.
However…if you’d rather read it for FREE…just leave a comment below to be entered for a chance to win your very own copy from Crossway! Woohoo!
Here’s the fine print:
- to enter: leave a comment on this post & answer the question: Who had the biggest influence on your childhood?
- extra points: Tell your friends on facebook about this giveaway and leave me another comment.
- open to: anyone in the USA or Canada (per publisher’s request).
- giveaway ends: Thursday night, 9/27/12, at 10:00pm EST.
- what you win: 1 person will win 1 copy of Give Them Grace, generously provided by Crossway.
- details: winner chosen via random.org & announced next Friday (9/28/12).