Gospel-Powered Parenting

Our church book club is reading Gospel-Powered Parenting: How the Gospel Shapes and Transforms Parenting this month (and if you’d like to join us we’d love to have you, leave a comment or email me and I’ll send you specifics) and I do hope some people come to the discussion because parenting is one of those topics that you always have to keep up with and it’s hard to get into really theological aspects of it when you’re having normal parenting conversations about things like how to potty train and where to find good piano teachers.

The book works from the central assumption that parents should equip their children for life NOT by “changing and controlling their environment” but by being concerned with their children’s hearts.  The idea, which you can find in other parenting books as well, is that when you only control the environment, but neglect the heart, you produce kids who believe in what surveys term “moralistic therapeutic deism” rather than having true life-changing faith.

I thought the author made really strong points about how the ultimate end of parenting is not well-behaved children.  It is to help your children see their own hearts and understand their need for changed hearts.  In other words, it is the gospel.  The gospel, Farley says “makes parents increasingly humble, consistent, and affectionate” with their kids.  Rather than feeling like their worth or success is riding on their kid’s behavior, gospel-powered parents are free to love and shepherd their children without fear or panic.

Another interesting point is Farley’s examination of who should be the “chief parent.”  These days, it’s often assumed that Mom is the chief parent and Dad is the assistant.  This is especially true if Mom is home with the kids all the time, up with them every night, quit her job to be home, and all that.  It’s unfortunate, as Farley points out, because children need the influence of their fathers, and Biblically fathers are called to be involved with their families.  Mothers may naturally be more nurturing or may have an edge on childcare if they are with the kids all day, but the Bible addresses quite a bit of parenting advice to fathers and does not leave mothers standing there holding the bag for bringing up the children.  What this looks like in different families may vary of course, and I think it depends greatly on the parents’ attitudes and partnership, but it’s a good question to consider.

I did disagree with the author on a few points, primarily in degree of emphasis and in some areas where I felt his meaning could be easily misconstrued and taken to unbiblical conclusions, but overall I found the book helpful and I think it would be interesting to discuss.  If you’re in central Indiana and are interested in the book discussion, don’t forget to let me know and I’ll send you the details.


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5 thoughts on “Gospel-Powered Parenting

  1. This looks like a thought provoking book. I’ve realized now that I have teenagers that, in fact, perfect behavior is not the goal. It is about raising children to think for themselves, ask the right questions and realize that there is Truth. It is God’s job to sanctify them, not mom or dad:) We have the huge job of placing opportunities before them, at times protecting them from themselves and modeling what it means to walk with Christ. I so wish that I lived on your side of town. I’d love to read and discuss this book.

  2. I hope you have a good group of parents for your discussion! I thought this was a very good parenting book, and entirely agree with your review. The first friend that I had who reviewed it mentioned that it didn’t have lots of how-tos or prescriptions for your parenting but lots of the gospel. However, I’ve found that since I’ve read it I’ve used the author’s ideas/words as I’ve disciplined my children, and in other specific ways. At the same time, it is true that his main focus is simply and powerfully the gospel, which is so lacking in most Christian parenting books with their, “Do A,B, C and your kids will turn out great” talk. I thought he gave some good examples for how to live out and talk about the gospel with your children right in the middle of life as it happens. I’ve just found that I seem to be good at talking with my children at the level that they need up until they are about 4. Now that I have older ones, taking the opportunities to talk about anything and everything and getting deeper and to the heart of what’s really important is much more difficult for me. This book gave me some practical help that I wasn’t expecting but am grateful for.

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