My Favourite Christian Parenting Books: Part 3 – Growing
A while ago (3 years ago in fact!) I wrote this post about my favourite parenting books that are written about the stage that spans from thinking about having children to birth itself. Now as I get ready to give away some older parenting books I realised I need to write about them as well before I get rid of them entirely! Part 2 about baby books is hopefully still to come.
I have read many books on parenting because I felt ill equipped and in need of help, even though God blessed me with great parents from whom I learned the basics. I am just going to mention here the ones that have helped me the most. I don’t necessarily agree with everything in them all, but gleaned what I could. I have put them roughly in order with the ones I would recommend the most first.
Any of these that take a hard-lined approach, please mix in with Biblical love and patience and grace for your children. The Bible tells us to discipline our children, but also to love and teach and not to exasperate them.
Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp
My copy of this has been mislaid, or else I have lent it out! But two things still stick out to me from reading this. One is that the important thing in parenting is reaching children’s hearts. So we shouldn’t just discipline them and tell them things. As they get old enough to understand, we should also explain why, so that we are teaching their hearts what is right and pleasing to God. Also it has a great section on how and when to discipline your children, which is really what I used as my guidebook for that, since it seems very balanced and Biblical.
Hints on Child Training by H. Clay Trumbull
This is a great practical book written in 1890 with lots of useful advice about all kinds of aspects of child-raising.
On the subject of friends, he says, ‘As a child will have companions, and as he needs to have them, it is doubly important that a parent be alive to the importance of guiding his every child in the choice of his companions and in his relations to those companions whom he has without choosing.’ p115
He also says sometimes it is wisest not to direct or say no but to let children alone. ‘The training of a child must go on incessantly, but a large share of the time it will best go on by the operation of influences, inspirations, and inducements, in the direction of a right standard held persistently before the child…’ p51
The Ministry of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson
This is a wonderfully inspiring book, mostly about a philosophy of child-raising – treating it as a calling to disciple our children just as Jesus did with his disciples.
Here is a paragraph I underlined and put a star by when I read it:
‘It is to Him (Jesus) that we will have to give an account of how faithfully we sought to pass on his message and his commission to our children. Giving our children the gift of inspiration – helping them understand their spiritual purpose, which is to glorify God and to make Him known – is one of the most crucial tasks of Christian parenting.’ p66
She goes on to say that ‘each of our children has been given a specific personality and a particular set of circumstances that will give shape to God’s purpose for his or her life. It is our privilege and responsibility as parents to help our children understand their particular fit in God’s plan. This means pointing out special skills and talents. It also means helping children realize that God didn’t give the such skills and talents just to use on themselves, but to glorify Him and bring others to Him through the stewardship of their lives.’ p66-67
The Shaping of a Christian Family by Elisabeth Elliot
I love Elisabeth’s Elliot’s writing, because she is so clearly ‘sold out’ to do whatever God wants, and is also very practical and direct. One thing I remember learning from reading this was how her mother would teach her children to ‘come’ when they first started to crawl, p137.
She says on p122, ‘If children learned early to respect, even to stand in awe of, their parents, they would be far less likely to get into trouble by defying other authorities God places over them.’
Child Training Tips by Reb Bradley
This is a very practical book, mainly about discipline and respect. One thing I remember from this book is how he says that children must learn to obey without knowing the reasons behind their parents’ instructions. He says, ‘If you habitually justify your instructions, you will find yourself enduring your child’s wrath if you fail to persuade him with your reasoning.’ p45
There is also a very interesting chapter on how children avoid personal responsibility with various defense mechanisms such as denial, guilt projection, rationalisation, changing the subject, self-pity, and many more.
Growing Kids God’s Way by Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo
What always sticks out to me from what I learned and read of this (there are other books written in this series besides the one linked to) was the ‘funnel method’. I no longer have the material on it, but basically it means that you don’t let children have complete freedom to do what they want wherever they are. You start off with the boundaries in very tight, and only loosen them as they show responsibility. I applied this, for example to shopping, where the funnel was very narrow and I made them stay in the seats in the trolley. I would gradually let them have more freedom once they proved they were capable of using it properly, but would not just let them out whenever they wanted. It does mean a bit more exertion in keeping them reined in, but generally means that their behaviour is better and they can earn more freedom as you go along.
I hope you may find these useful to you. To repeat what I said at the beginning in case you skip-read: any of these that take a hard-lined approach, please mix in with Biblical love, patience and grace for your children. The Bible tells us to discipline our children, but also to love and teach and not to exasperate them.
If you have a book that you found particularly useful for Christian parenting, please do share it in the comments. Thank you!