No matter the age of our children, it seems like there is always some new parenting challenge present. Currently, my husband and I are quickly wading into the deep trenches of the terrible-twos with our daughter: she laughs as we try to correct her wrong behavior and stubbornly persists in doing exactly what we told her not to do, over and over again. How do we deal with such behavior?
In these moments, it is easy to resort to quick and easy fix-it solutions that achieve the desired behavior. However, many times these solutions do not reflect what God has prescribed as the way we are to raise our children. For this reason, I am thankful for godly authors who take the time to study God’s Word and then help point us towards a better understanding of what it means to teach our children in the ways of the Lord.
One such book is Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family, by Paul David Tripp. Unlike many parenting books, you won’t find 1-2-3 step strategies and tips for solving specific parenting dilemmas. Instead, Tripp focuses on the message of the gospel and how it transforms the heart of the parent and of the child, providing strength and freedom to accomplish this ever-daunting responsibility called Parenting.
With that said, what did I take away for myself from this book?
1. I am a sinner, just like my child
In almost every chapter, Tripp makes the statement “I am more like my children than unlike them.”
In other words, our children aren’t the only ones who struggle with authority, bad attitudes, angry responses, and just plain old sin. We, the parents, also struggle with sinful attitudes and actions on a daily basis that we need confess and repent of. Recognizing that we are in need of God’s grace and forgiveness because of our own sin puts us in the position to walk in love and humility towards our children on a daily basis.
2. I am simply a tool
No matter what parenting technique or method I may try, God did not give me the innate ability to bring about lasting change in the life of my child.
The only way change can happen is if the heart is changed, and only the gospel can do that. I am simply the God-appointed tool in my child’s life to point him towards the transforming message of the cross. I cannot expect household rules, boundaries, and guidelines to accomplish what only the gospel can accomplish.
3. The Gospel plays out in the little things
When a child is caught doing wrong, it is all too easy to view this as a moment for frustration, irritation, or an “inconvenience that needs to be dealt with so I can get back to what I was doing.”
However, Tripp encourages parents to consider such moments not as inconveniences but as manifestations of God’s grace in our child’s life: it is an opportunity for us, the parent, to once again point the child towards the gospel and their need for God’s grace. These frequent and often-overlooked moments in our day are the little moments that contribute towards the big picture of pointing our child to Christ.
Parents, this is an outstanding book. Does it specifically address every problem we might face as parents? No. However, because Scripture is its basis, it points us to God’s revelation concerning His design and purpose for the family. For this reason, I believe all parents who desire to raise their children to honor and glorify God will find this book to be an incredibly helpful and gospel-centered resource.