Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus by Elyse M. Fitzpatrick and her daughter Jessica Thompson, is truly a must-read book. It is a parenting book that promises to rock your world! That’s my assessment after watching a 90 minute interview of Elyse Fitzpatrick on Desiring God Live.
The thing that struck me the most in watching the interview, was the author’s burden that we parent in a distinctively Christian way. She said something like this: “If your kids were transplanted into a Mormon home, would they notice anything different?” Mormons, Jews, and Muslims even, want their children to respect authority, be nice to their siblings, fit into society and grow up to be good, moral people. Is that all we’re after as Christian parents?
I thought immediately of Bryan Chapell’s point from his book Christ-Centered Preaching. He said something like: “If the sermon you preached could be equally preached in a Jewish synagogue, Mormon Tabernacle or Muslim mosque, then you didn’t preach a Christian sermon.” (I’m totally paraphrasing by the way….)
What is distinctively Christian about our parenting? Are we sending the wrong message when we chide our children for disobeying the rules claiming they should have been able to obey them? Do we expect our kids to have the power to just obey by will-power? Is that how we live the Christian life?
Fitzpatrick went on to say how there are two kinds of children, basically. Prodigals and elder brothers. The law has an effect on prodigals, it causes them to chafe and run. The law has an opposite effect on elder brother-types, the Pharisees. They enjoy the law because they can keep it, and it’s an occasion for pride to them. Both of these types of children (and there are often more than one type inside one kid), need to understand that mercy trumps judgment. Mercy is better than law. Sadly, too often, all we give either child is a healthy does of law with little idea of Christian mercy and God’s grace.
When we praise our children, too, we can subtly instill in them a love of praise and the notion that if they try hard and do well, they’ll earn favor. But this idea is antithetical to the Gospel and is NOT how God views them.
All this is from the interview, and it really makes me want to pick up this book. I highly encourage my readers to pick up a copy of it as well. For now watch the interview, it will be worth the investment of your time. Once I get the book, I hope to blog some more about the themes covered in this book.