Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus: A MUST-HAVE Parenting Resource!

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Today is my birthday! To celebrate, I want to give away a copy of one of the best, if not THE best, book on parenting and discipline I’ve ever read…and I’ve read a bunch!

Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson is a true treasure.

I’ve always been a researcher. When I found out I was pregnant for the first time, I read everything I could get my hands on about pregnancy and birth. When I decided to homeschool, I did the same. It’s just how I operate. In my 13 years as a parent, I’ve read literally dozens of books on parenting, discipline, and so on, and I must say that Give Them Grace stands out from them all!

This book truly represents a paradigm shift in how we approach obedience and discipline with our kids. If you’ve read Because He Loves Me: How Christ Transforms Our Daily Life by Elyse Fitzpatrick, you’ll recognize the concepts of gospel indicatives and imperatives and applying the truths of the gospel to every situation in our lives. In a nutshell, Give Them Grace takes these same gospel principles and applies them to parenting.

We’re all legalists at heart. Even if we grasp the principles of the gospel in other areas of our lives, we tend to resort to performance-based, rules-driven parenting. The problem is, our children will respond to this the same way we respond to the law without grace:

Most of us are painfully aware that we’re not perfect parents. We’re also deeply grieved that we don’t have perfect kids. But the remedy to our mutual imperfections isn’t more law, even if it seems to produce tidy or polite children. Christian children (and their parents) don’t need to learn to be “nice.” They need death and resurrection and a Savior who has gone before them as a faithful high priest, who was a child himself, and who lived and died perfectly in their place. They need a Savior who extends the offer of complete forgiveness, total righteousness, and indissoluble adoption to all who will believe. This is the message we all need. We need the gospel of grace and the grace of the gospel. Children can’t use the law any more than we can, because they will respond to it the same way we do. They’ll ignore it or bend it or obey it outwardly for selfish purposes, but this one thing is certain: they won’t obey it from the heart, because they can’t. That’s why Jesus had to die. (p. 17)

It’s the premise of this book that the primary reason the majority of kids from Christian homes stray from the faith is that they never really heard it to begin with. They were taught that God wants them to be good, that poor Jesus is sad when they disobey, and that asking Jesus into their heart is the breadth and depth of the gospel message.  (p. 18)

Our children need to understand that the gospel is so much more than just a set of facts to believe in order to be saved, it’s the fuel for all of life! We communicate this, not through more rules, but by applying the truths of the gospel to every situation…by “giving them grace”, not law.

Granted, this requires humility and transparency that may make some parents uncomfortable. But the mother-daughter team of Fitzpatrick and Johnson skillfully navigate parents through the process with uncommon graciousness and insight. They freely discuss their own mistakes, the appropriate use of rules and different disciplinary measures, and common scenarios we may face. Every page is saturated with practical, grace and gospel filled words of wisdom!

For example, I really appreciated the discussion of prodigals and pharisees in chapter 4. The authors use the familiar story of the prodigal son in Luke 15 to illustrate that our children (and we!) may most identify with either son. The “younger brother” types struggle to obey while the “older brother” types are rule-keepers (represented by David and Susan in the following quote). Both desperately need Jesus:

So, how can we teach our children to rejoice in God’s generous mercy and love? We know that we need to train them in rules for obedience; that’s obvious. But how can we teach them about something so outside the norm, such as God’s joy in being merciful to sinners?
The first way we do that is to see and confess our propensity to live like one of the two sons. Confess to your David that you, too, break the rules and that you always justify yourself for doing so. Alternately, confess to Susan that you, too, love to rely on the rules and to feel superior to others. 

Being specific about the ways you are simultaneously proud and disobedient will help your children understand that the gospel is for sinners. The gospel is not good news to those who pride themselves on their hard work. It is infuriating news. But it is good news to younger-brother types who are tempted to turn away from the faith early on because they don’t think that the gospel is for sinners. They think it is for good people who like being “gooder.”

Consistent, transparent, and specific confession of sin will help children see how their parents struggle with sin in the same ways that they do. This dynamic is especially important if there is a highly successful elder-brother type in the home. Teaching David that he and Susan and Mom and Dad are all lost, all sick, all in need of salvation is so very crucial, whereas saying things like, ‘Why can’t you be more like Susan?’ obliterates the gospel message. It tells David that there is something intrinsically wrong with him that isn’t wrong with Susan. It destroys his hope of ever hearing God’s benediction of goodness over his life. It breeds unbelief and despair. And, it is false.

God finds great joy in welcoming dirty, starving Davids to his table. And because they feel their lostness so keenly, they may more easily recognize their need for the Rescuer. Their lives are usually messier and more dramatic, but they’re also more authentic and can be greatly used by the Lord because they know they’ve been forgiven for so much. 

As much as David needs to hear about your struggle with sin, Susan needs it even more. She’s usually the parent pleaser who honestly enjoys making you happy and thinks that your happiness and God’s are analagous. What she desperately needs to realize is that her parents are deeply sinful, even though the gospel has made them love holiness. Specific confession of pride, judging, criticism, envy, and selfish ambition will help Susan understand her own propensities to fail in the same ways, while praising Susan for being a ‘good girl’ will breed toxic pride in her heart. It will teach her that she isn’t all that bad. She won’t recognize her need for the Rescuer, although she may say that she’s a Christian. What does Susan need to hear? She needs to hear that her desire to prove her own worthiness is one of the greatest hindrances to faith that she’ll ever face. (p. 71-72)

I can certainly see this dynamic at work in our family. We have children who fit into each category and it’s so easy to let the rule-keeper slide and crack down on the rule-breaker! Not to mention, we as parents can respond to our kids both as lazy prodigals and demanding Pharisees, often in the same day, as this chapter goes on to discuss.

Each chapter ends with a short section titled “Remembering God’s Grace”, containing several thought-provoking application questions. An appendix lists specific, common problems parents face, such as lying, disobedience, blame-shifting, etc. and clearly outlines how to address them with the gospel.

If we want more than just outwardly obedient, well-behaved children, then they must grasp the magnitude of the gospel, which means that the gospel must transform our parenting!  Give Them Grace is a not-to-be-missed resource for Christian parents…and Crossway has graciously provided a copy for me to give to one of you!

The giveaway is now closed, so hop on over to Amazon for your copy of this must-read! 🙂

Here’s how to enter:

  • Check out the book details at Crossway, then leave a comment telling me what appeals to you about it.
  • Subscribe to Home With Purpose using Google Connect (in my sidebar), Feedburner, Networked Blogs, or by email.
  • Like the Home With Purpose Facebook page.
  • Post about the giveaway on your Facebook page.
  • Tweet about the giveaway. Here’s a sample tweet you could use: “Free copy of @GiveThemGrace by @ElyseFitz an essential resource 4 every parent! #Giveaway by @KmamaTX & @CrosswayBooks: http://bit.ly/nSgoaF
  • Display my button on your blog’s sidebar.
Each action is worth one entry, meaning you can enter up to six times. Be sure to leave a separate comment for each entry!
The giveaway will be open until next Wednesday, July 13th, at 11:59 PM CDT.
If you just can’t wait to dive in, you can order a copy from Amazon.

Thank you so much to Crossway for providing both review and giveaway copies of the book!

 

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Comments

  1. Oh, this could be the answer to prayer I've been waiting for. I'd like this book because I couldn't get past the first sentence about not wanting our kids to be Pharisees!!

  2. Signed up to follow you (with my 'real' email 😉 )!

  3. Already Like you on FB!

  4. The appealing aspect of this book is the undoing of works-based parenting which can and often does lead our children to seek to please God through works-righteousness.

  5. I am following you on your blog also!!

  6. Liked on FB tweeted and posted on FB!

  7. They also discuss discipline and dealing with popular culture. I want my kids to be grace filled, Jesus loving kids! Sounds like a wonderful book! Thank you for your recommendation and the opportunity to win a copy!Andanbre at gmail dot com

  8. I subscribe using Google Connect and by email.Andanbre at gmail dot com

  9. I'm a facebook fan!Andanbre at gmail dot com

  10. I shared about this giveaway on my Facebook page!Andanbre at gmail dot com

  11. I tweeted about the giveaway!http://twitter.com/#!/Andanbre/status/88829958583103488Andanbre at gmail dot com

  12. I've added you to my "Blogs I Love" on my sidebar http://simpleblessingsathome.blogspot.com/Andanbre at gmail dot com

  13. This looks amazing. I struggle with getting to my kids' heart. Not growing up in a Christian home and being a child myself who just wanted to please people — I often feel at a loss on how to parent my kids' heart.

  14. Following you on GFC.

  15. Posted about the book on my FB page.

  16. Hi! Happy birthday (one day late)! I'm just popping in from the TOS crew. I'm excited to get to know you this year! I've added your button to my blog!

  17. Liked you on FB!

  18. Liked you on FB!

  19. Just posted on my FB page about your giveaway!Kari Berryman

  20. following your blog now via google!

  21. I put your button on my blog http://www.wheremytreasure.blogspot.com

  22. I have to admit that I sometimes go to one extreme or the other, and this book seems to take a really great stand. I love books like this with a Christian perspective on things rather than worldly.ruthaw_1974@yahoo.com

  23. follow you on networked blogs ruthhill74

  24. like you on facebookruthhill74

  25. Happy Birthday Kara! Sorry I missed it! Hope you had a wonderful day! I am enjoying this book. It is challenging me.

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