Most of the parenting books I read, I read when I was pregnant with my first child and was lacking in the ability to practice practical application of, well, anything! Of course, when pregnant, you read everything on parenting you can get your hands on (because you have the time to do so) and then you feel something of an expert. I’ve discovered lately, now that my little guy is three years old, that I could use a refresher course! (And if you had any doubts, YES, I am poking fun at myself!)
One of the books I picked up to read recently is Gospel-Powered Parenting: How the Gospel Shapes and Transforms Parenting. The focal point and message of this book is that we, as parents, can try our best to shape and mold our children but ultimately it is God’s saving grace and work in their lives that will raise them well. The title alone should indicate to any potential reader that author William P. Farley relies heavily on the gospel of Jesus Christ to say that parents cannot save their children – only God can. Sure, we as parents have a responsibility to raise our children up to know and love God but God moves the heart of a child.
Farley talks a lot about looking to the heart of a child and focusing on the root sin issues that any particular child is facing when approaching a child to discipline or correct their behavior. Just as God looks at the inside of us, Farley would encourage parents to stop and discern what is going on in the inside of a child’s heart and mind as they are acting out on certain behaviors or copping an attitude. Dealing with the root issue of behavior is going to be much more effective than dealing with surface level behavior.
Farley also focuses on the fact that in order to parent well, we should be mirroring and teaching the gospel to our children with our own lives, displaying appropriate sacrifice and love for the child so that they can see and know Christ and the gospel visibly. In other words, the responsibility for good behavior doesn’t fall solely on the child, but must first start through the truthful living of the adult. It’s a huge responsibility and Farley suggests that we do not take it lightly.
Gospel-Powered Parenting is a really thought-provoking book, not so much for explaining how to train up children but it compels me to think about how I should be acting and behaving to model Christ’s love to my children.
To gain some additional perspective on this book, I’d recommend that you check out Tim Challies review of Gospel-Powered Parenting as well. (He tends to explain things more brilliantly than I!)