Title: Give Them Grace
Author: Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson
Recommended For: Any parent, but particularly those with elementary school-aged children
This is easily my favorite parenting book. Elyse (and her daughter) give such a clear, biblical picture of what it means to be a parent. While they provides some helpful “tips and tools” their message truly focuses on the whole scope of parenting. The scope is described in this way,
“Yes, give them God’s law. Teach it to them and tell them that God commands obedience. But before you are done…explain again the beautiful story of Christ’s perfect keeping of it for them. Jesus Christ was the only one who ever deserved to hear, “You are good,” but he relinquished his right relationship with the law and his Father and suffered as a lawbreaker. This is the message we all need to hear, it is the only message that will transform our hearts.”
This is the purpose of parenting! It gave me a goal to shoot for and a path towards that goal. Just like the law crushed my own heart and made me realize my need for a savior (Rom 3:20), the law must be presented to Jack, Brenn and Meg so that they can feel it’s crushing effect as well (Gal 3:10-11, Rom 7:10 – even though Paul tried to obey the law he constantly failed). But when I instruct my children, I can’t merely focus on the rule-breaking. I focus on the one who came to take the ultimate punishment for all those broken rules (I John 1:17). The law leads back to Christ (Rom 10:4). Christ is the answer to all the broken rules, all the “not being good’s,” all the “how could you DO that’s!” and all the parenting fails that accompany those moments.
The other thing that I love about this book is the clear call to parents to live in light of God’s grace themselves. It must be clear to Jack and Brenn that I realize both my own inadequacy and God’s amazing, daily grace (Heb 4:16). If I expect them to acknowledge their sin, I must acknowledge my sin. If I expect them to praise God for his goodness and grace, then I must do the same. If I want them to know that in my own strength I cannot please God, then I must tell them that (John 15:5). My children will know what I believe by the way that I act towards myself. And I can’t just do these things in my head. I must do them out loud (Deut 6:7-9) so that they can see and hear me (and go running off to Grandma and describe all Mama’s sin in detail no doubt : ).
All in all, this book is often on my re-read list. It has given me so much help and guidance as I seek to raise my children for God’s glory. It is not a difficult read, although I’d recommend that you underline or highlight as you go for those future days when you find yourself flipping back through the book, looking for encouragement and help.
“The sovereignty of God promises the truth that the future of my children does not rest in my hands. I can certainly affect the context of their lives, and thereby influence the way that they understand God and his word, but ultimately, it is God’s choice to regenerate them and God’s Spirit that will speak truth into their hearts (James 1:18).”