Chapter Two ~ How to Raise Good Kids
Oh, this chapter. This was so convicting for me—how about you? Fitzpatrick and Thompson take on the difference between goodness and righteousness. There’s such a huge difference, yet how many times are we tempted to tell our kids they are “good”? How often do we praise them? And yet, apart from Christ, there is no good to be found in humans. Romans 3:9-13 (ESV) says:
What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written:
“None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”
“Their throat is an open grave;
they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
In Mark 10:18, Jesus says:
And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.
Jesus is God. Jesus is good. Any righteousness we have comes from Christ alone. It is through Christ’s blood that we are saved. When we praise our kids for being “good”, we give them a false sense of self-righteousness—something we definitely don’t want to communicate as we share the gospel with them. Fitzpatrick and Thompson put it this way:
Every word we say to (our children) during the day will be shaped by our view of their ability to be good and how to get them there. Every responsible parent wants obedient children. But if we’re confused about their ability to be good, we’ll end up lying to them about their desperate lostness outside of Christ. We’ll tell them they are good and that they can obey God’s law. (Give Them Grace, page 47)
The last thing I want to do is lie to my kids about the underlying truths of the gospel! I think there are some good points in this chapter about communicating the truth of the gospel to kids. I appreciated the stark difference between outward obedience and inward righteousness.
Are you communicating the truth about Christ’s righteousness and human sin to your kids? Are you pointing them to the gospel every day? What struck you from Chapter Two?
Chapter Three ~ This is the Work of God
I love that Fitzpatrick and Thompson take on the idea here that good parents always create good kids. The reality is that God is sovereign. He’s sovereign over history, over rulers, over salvation. God is in charge here. God saves. We don’t save our kids—we can’t save our kids. That can be an uncomfortable truth. Honestly, knowing that God is sovereign requires that we trust Him and commit ourselves to His care. I know the Lord is good, I know that he works all things to the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes, and I believe that I can trust Him with my children. So, while the reality that I can’t save my kids is sometimes uncomfortable, it’s also very freeing. My job is to present the gospel lovingly and to petition the Lord for the salvation of my children, and then to just wait and trust Him. Consider what we learn in Ephesians 2:1-10 about salvation (ESV):
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Friend, your salvation is not your own doing—it is a gift. Likewise the salvation of your children will be the same. We go to the Giver to ask for that gift!
I underlined so much of this excellent chapter that I can’t possibly even share a small portion of the authors’ good thoughts with you. I’ll leave you with this:
We are always to do our best, striving to be obedient and to love, nurture, and discipline (our children). But we are to do it with faith in the Lord’s ability to transform hearts, not in our ability to be consistent or faithful. 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. (Give Them Grace, page 53)
What did you learn from this chapter? What part of these salvation truths do you struggle with? Do you trust the Lord with your children?
Chapter Four ~ Jesus Loves All This Little Prodigals and Pharisees
I thought this chapter really clearly portrays two sinful heart attitudes—that of the selfishly rebellious (the prodigal) and of the selfishly self-righteous (the Pharisee). Amazingly, I have the capacity for both attitudes. Still, we tend to see one or the other manifested in each of our children. Do you find it easier to praise the Pharisee than the Prodigal? I know I do. After all, a little Pharisee is obeying while the little Prodigal is just a lot of work. Yet both need the gospel and the saving grace of Christ.
I found the section on personal transparency helpful. Here are a few quotes that resonated with me:
Being specific about the ways you are simultaneously proud and disobedient will help your children understand the gospel is for sinners. (Give Them Grace, page 71)
Consistent, transparent, and specific confession of sin will help children see how their parents struggle with sin in the same ways they do. (Give Them Grace, page 71)
Most parents know enough to confess their anger to their children. But do we regularly confess our self-righteousness and pride? (Give Them Grace, page 72)
How can you help your children understand both the sins of rebellion and anger and of self-righteousness and pride? How does chapter four encourage you to point your children to the gospel?
What do you think about chapters two-four? Comment below, or join the discussion at the Family Discipleship Community with admins from six blogs committed to family discipleship (in no particular order): Me (surprise!), Tauna from Proverbial Homemaker, Amanda – owner of Kids in the Word, Ticia from Adventures in Mommydom, Anne Marie of Future Flying Saucers, and Joyice from Raising Boys Homeschool.
I look forward to continuing the discussion, friends.
Check out Sound Words ~ A theology program based on the Westminster Catechism from Proverbial Homemaker!
You can find Give Them Grace at:
Other parenting books reviewed on Thinking Kids
- You, Your Family, and the Internet by David Clark
- Raising Real Men by Hal and Melanie Young
- Organic Outreach for Families by Kevin G. and Sherry Harney
- Engaging Today’s Prodigal by Carol Barnier
- Intentional Parenting by Tad Thompson
- Your Child’s Profession of Faith by Dennis Gundersen
- Parenting Against the Tide: A Handbook for 21st Century Parenting by Ann Benton
Or just check out the Thinking Kids book review indexes for
Thinking Kids Pinterest Book Boards
- Christian Books for Preschoolers
- Christian Books for 4-7 Year Olds
- Christian Books for the Middle Grades
- Christian Books for Middle School
- Christian Books for High School
- Christian Books for Kids’ Devotions
- Christian Books about Parenting
~ Danika Cooley
Danika Cooley is a children’s writer with a love for God’s Word, history, wisdom and small people. Her work has appeared in magazines including Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse and Clubhouse Jr.; Upper Room Ministries’ Pockets and Devozine; CBH Ministries’ Keys for Kids, and Cobblestone Group’s FACES and Odyssey. Her work also appears in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Magic of Mothers and Daughters.
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