The funny thing about parenting is that I could never come to a point when I can finally say that I have it all together. If I’m truly honest, I know there is always something to be improved upon. I could certainly do a whole lot better in how I react to misbehavior or unexpected turn of events.
Over my short stint as a parent, I have acquired a number of books that have shaped the way I view and raise my children. While I read theology books most of the time, I also regularly read a lot parenting books in order to glean from the wisdom and experiences of those who are more mature in the faith.
Shepherding a Child’s Heart
Tedd Tripp in Shepherding A Child’s Heart has taught me the importance of Biblical discipline and emphasized that much of what we do as people stem from hearts that are marred with sin.
The central focus of childrearing is to bring children to a sober assessment of themselves as sinners.
Show Them Jesus: Teaching the Gospel to Kids
Jack Klumpenhower in Show Them Jesus has compelled me to diligently teach my children the wonderful story of Jesus from all the pages in Scripture. While it is not exactly a “parenting” book, but teaching the Gospel forms a big portion of a parent’s role in raising their children.
We’ve been dispensing good advice instead of the good news. Eventually, kids will tire of our advice, no matter how good it might be. Many will leave the church. Others will live decent, churchy lives but without any fire for Christ. We’ll wonder why they’ve rejected the good news, because we assumed they were well grounded in it. In fact, they never were. Although we told stories of Jesus and his free grace, we watered it down with self-effort—and that’s what they heard.
Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Really Change Your Family
Paul Tripp in Parenting has shown me that every instance of seeing sin in my children is an opportunity to share the wonderful news of the Gospel.
Parents, if your eyes ever see or your ears ever hear the sin and weakness of your children, it’s never an accident, it’s never a hassle, it’s never an interruption; it’s always grace. God loves your children and because he does, he has placed them in a family of faith so that you can be his tool of convicting, forgiving, and transforming grace.
Parenting by God’s Promises: How to Raise Children in the Covenant of Grace
Joel Beeke in Parenting by God’s Promises has reminded me to see my children as part of God’s covenant community, and I should raise them according to the sign and seal of God’s promises that was placed upon them during baptism.
It is no small benefit to be born within the sphere of God’s covenant. As such, our children hear God’s Word in the home, at the table, and from the lips of their parents. They are brought up in church, where they hear the Word preached, and attend schools (whether Christian schools or at home) where they hear the Word taught. Being born into the sphere of the covenant means their entire lives are saturated with the Word. That is an incredible benefit.
The Duties of Parents
Bishop J. C. Ryle’s timeless wisdom echoes throughout the ages. The Duties of Parents is a book that I read regularly, and it alway slaps me back to reality as it reminds me of my all-important task of rearing my children in the Lord.
Love for the souls of your children is the quintessence of all love. To pet and pamper and indulge your child, as if this world was all he had to look to, and this life the only season for happiness—to do this is not true love, but cruelty. It is treating him like some beast of the earth, which has but one world to look to, and nothing after death. It is hiding from him that grand truth, which he ought to be made to learn from his very infancy—that the chief end of his life is the salvation of his soul.
It is also available online.
Let the Children Worship
Jason Helopoulos in Let the Children Worship helped me understand the foundations and Biblical reasons for bringing the little ones to Jesus in corporate worship.
The more our children dwell in the presence of the means of grace, the more their souls benefit. God promises to work by these means. We don’t want to miss any opportunity for their working in the lives of our children.
Building a Godly Home: A Holy Vision of Raising Children
Originally titled as Of Domesticall Duties, William Gouge is a classic for parents that any one who purports to be Reformed must read. It includes practical guidelines on showing respect to parents, and getting parents’ permission. It handles objections on admonishing and nurturing children.
Rude upbringing makes children to be of a crooked, perverse, stubborn, unteachable, sullen, snappy disposition. On the other hand, good nurture of this kind produces openness, friendliness, courtesy, and kindness. If those who are rudely brought up are children of parents claiming to hold to true religion, they bring a stain upon their claims to be Christians.
Everyday Talk: Talking Freely and Naturally About God With Your Children
John A. Younts’ Everyday Talk is a valuable book that teaches parents how to bridge conversations and make it all about God. Younts has encouraged me to talk gently to my children and make every effort to make small talks into Gospel conversations. It is filled with examples upon examples on how to respond to everyday situations.
God is not just a Sunday God; He is for every day. If you live in awe of Him, your children will see that. If you love Him and serve Him, you will talk about Him every day, and your children will hear that.
The Life We Never Expected: Hopeful Reflections on the Challenges of Parenting Children with Special Needs
Andrew and Rachel Wilson has written a book chronicling their journey in parenting two children with autism. I read it one sitting and cried buckets of tears because it filled my heart with hope from the Gospel as a fellow parent of a child with special needs.
I love my kids most not by loving them the most but by first loving God. As soon as I take my eyes off him and my attitude falters and I begin to believe that I alone must push for them and control their destinies, the unbearable weight of playing God soon becomes apparent. When I put my eyes back on the One who always deserves my attention, then whatever fake battles are being lost around me, the true one is being won. It makes all the difference.
Preparing Children for Marriage: How to Teach God’s Good Design for Marriage, Sex, Purity, and Dating
Josh Mulvihill in Preparing Children for Marriage has actually taught me not just to prepare my children for marriage, but also for singlehood. That’s one of the biggest reasons why this book made a distinct impression on me.
Many parents are fearful to declare the whole counsel of God to their children. Parents often reason that children are not developmentally ready to hear the full teaching of Scripture. Parents and pastors break from the biblical pattern when they teach limited portions of Scripture to children. Could it be that one reason young people are doctrinally ignorant, spiritually confused, and living with a syncretistic faith system is that we have reduced our teaching to the couple dozen moralistic stories found in most children’s Bibles? Our children need the soul-gripping, life-altering, meat-based, Jesus-centered teachings of God’s Word.