Jump directly to the content

A Parenting Manual for Bad Kids


Jul 20 2011
Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson's Give Them Grace proceeds from the belief that all children - and parents - need the gospel more than they need how-to tips.

Many parenting books promise fast results for raising children who always obey, toddlers who never talk back, and teens who keep the faith. The marketers of such books get that we consumers will buy almost anything if it promises speedy outcomes and comes in a tidy list of dos and don'ts.

In their new book, Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus (Crossway), mother-daughter writing team Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson write to challenge the assumption that if we raise "nice" kids, our parenting task is complete (17). They believe God has something far greater for parents than raising the most moral kids on the block. Writing from the experience of a mother whose children are grown (Elyse) and a mother currently parenting young children (Jessica), they offer a reflective look back at what should have been, and a helpful look forward at what parenting can be, by God's grace.

Give Them Grace is divided into two sections: foundations of grace and evidences of grace. In the first, Fitzpatrick and Thompson present the gospel story and its implications for parenting. They assert that we often spend our time parenting by rules alone rather than reciting the story of redemption, which provides our children a way to follow the rules. They emphasize that salvation is all of God, which is a parent's only foundation as they raise children:

Raising good kids is utterly impossible unless they are drawn by the Holy Spirit to put their faith in the goodness of another. You cannot raise good kids, because you are not a good parent. There is only one good Parent, and he had one good Son. Together, this Father and Son accomplished everything that needed to be done to rescue us and our children from certain destruction (50).

While our primary goal shouldn't be raising obedient children, teaching obedience is still a large part of parenting. The authors list four types of obedience (initial, social, civic, religious) and show how to differentiate this obedience from true Christian righteousness (30-32). By weaving in examples of how to respond to children when they disobey, they teach parents the importance of pointing children to Jesus, the only Son who obeyed perfectly. They call this "gracious parenting."

The second section, evidences of grace, explores the nuts and bolts of applying grace to parenting. While the authors steer clear of a simple cause-effect parenting strategy, they provide tools for parents in light of the grace-filled framework already established. They provide a chart for parents to use as they think through parenting "of the Lord" (taken from Ephesians 6:4). The chart has five distinct categories: management, nurturing, training, correction, and promises (89-92). Each category includes an example for the believing and the unbelieving child.

Related Topics:Doctrine; Parenting
From: July 2011
Support our work. Subscribe to CT and get one year free.

Comments

To add a comment you need to be a registered user or Christianity Today subscriber.

orSubscribeor
More from Her.menutics
Old Hollywood’s Abortion Secret

Old Hollywood’s Abortion Secret

What a culture of death tells us about a culture of life.
Save Your Soul: Stop Writing

Save Your Soul: Stop Writing

In the age of push-button publishing, self-disclosure isn't always God's best.
How Sewing Saved My Sanity

How Sewing Saved My Sanity

I took up quilting as a hobby. I had no idea it would become a tool for soul care.
Q+A: ‘To Joey, with Love’

Q+A: ‘To Joey, with Love’

Country musician Rory Feek shares about faith, heartbreak, and his new film.
Include results from Christianity Today
Browse Archives:

So Hot Right Now

The Casserole-Toting Church Ladies Hold the Secret To Happiness

I found unexpected heroes—and a model for faithful living—in the elderly women at my church.

Follow Us

Twitter

  • Tomorrow is #SeeYouAtThePole. Some thoughts on prayer in schools: https://t.co/Tf2j0XwCXD
  • We're going to look a little different starting tomorrow: Her.meneutics is becoming @CT_Women. Bringing you more of the coverage you love!
  • RT @melissabkruger: Sneak Peek Interview with @sometimesalight on her new book Humble Roots (it2019s so, so good) @TGC https://t.co/8tJxVcGUbB
  • For CT subscribers: Something to keep in mind as your kids watch you watch the #debates2016 @jenniferwilkin https://t.co/2zuVtqGn7y
  • 20% of Christian women log on say they rely on Facebook for spiritual encouragement https://t.co/u0MumFlX7r


What We're Reading

CT eBooks and Bible Studies

Christianity Today
A Parenting Manual for Bad Kids