Why Read Give Them Grace?

There have been several books on parenting that have been very helpful for my wife and me during our first few years as parents.  But Give Them Grace by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson has probably been the most important in helping us practically apply the truths of Christianity and the gospel to parenting.

So often, as parents, we want our children to learn to be good.  We have our children memorize Ephesians 6:1 at an early age.  We faithfully discipline our children once they seemingly understand right from wrong.  We zealously attempt to teach our children good character and proper behavior.

Sometimes, we sinfully compare our children to others.  We look at other parents who have children who appear more disciplined, better behaved, better mannered.  And when our children do not match up to other children, we get frustrated and angry with ourselves and with our children.  When they show blatant displays of rebellion and disobedience, as parents, we are embarrassed, ashamed and discouraged.

In this pursuit of raising “good” children, it is so easy to forget that we cannot successfully give the law and expect our children to obey the law.  In fact, we need to remind ourselves that when we give the law, we should expect our children to break the law.  And the point is to have our children understand that they need grace and forgiveness.  But how can they understand the truths of grace and forgiveness, if we as parents, do not model this reality.

Synopsis of Give Them Grace

Give Them Grace is such a refreshing read.  I have read this book several times in the last few years, and it has been helpful in reminding me how essential the gospel needs to be in shaping our parenting of our children.  Here are some excerpts from this book.

  • “Long-term, sustained, gospel-motivated obedience can come only from faith in what Jesus has already done, not fear of what we must do. Any obedience not grounded in or motivated by the gospel is unsustainable.” (p.12)
  • The power to obey…comes from being moved and motivated by the completed work of Jesus for us. So, while the law directs us, only the gospel can drive us.” (p.14)
  • “At the deepest level of what we do as parents, we should hear the heartbeat of a loving, grace-giving Father who freely adopts rebels and transforms them into loving sons and daughters.” (p.21)
  • “We have to remember that in the life of our unregenerate children, the law is given for one reason only: to crush their self-confidence and drive them to Christ.” (p.36)
  • “Seeking to be faithfully obedient parents is our responsibility; granting faith to our children is his. Freedom to love and enjoy our children flows out of the knowledge that God saves them in spite of our best efforts, not because of them. Salvation is of the Lord.” (p.53)
  • “Consistent, transparent, and specific confession of sin will help children see how their parents struggle with sin in the same ways that they do.” (p.71)
  • “Parenting methods that assume or ignore the gospel are not Christian.” (p.100)

The authors seek to encourage the reader to stop the search for finding or implementing the right formula to parenting.  Remove the fallacy that if you are faithful as parents, your children will turn out good.  Rather, constantly remind yourself of the gracious love of our Savior.  And in speech and actions, show your children what God’s grace looks like.  And as you preach and live out the gospel to your children, pray and be assured that ultimately salvation is of the Lord.

Final Remarks

We have a short list of other books that cover other aspects of Christian parenting, but when I notice myself forgetting to apply the truths of the gospel in my parenting, I often find myself returning to this book as an effective practical help.

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