As promised, I’m posting my favorite books regarding the topic of biblical parenting. Several friends have requested this lately and a good conversation with our pastor’s wife last week made me realize I should take the time to list out these books and why I’m so indebted to them. Now, first let me say that I think the Bible itself is completely sufficient to teach us everything we need to know to parent our children in the way that the Lord commands. But I’m also thankful that God has led Bible-believing Christian parents to write good and helpful books that shed light as to how I should carry out God’s commands in my daily life with my four little people.
So, first on my list is Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp. If you only read one book about Christian parenting in your entire life, this should be it! What Tripp does so well is reiterate over and over that our task as parents isn’t to create well-behaved children, but to expose the sin in our child’s heart that forbids them from a relationship with the Lord until they repent and trust in Christ. So, Tripp reminds us again and again that it is our job to draw out the child’s heart through consistence discipline when the child disobeys and subsequent conversation about how that particular act of disobedience exposes the sinful heart.
Second on my list is Don’t Make Me Count to Three by Ginger Plowman. I wasn’t sure whether or not to continue recommending this book as Ginger Plowman took a leave from public ministry because of marital issues. I’m still not sure of the exact details, but this book is what I would consider the practical application of Tripp’s book. Tripp gives you the philosphy, Plowman gives you the practical. One of the most helpful techniques I gathered from Plowman’s book was that of re-enacting situations between the children. For example, suppose Miles’ snatches a toy from Molly Kate and Molly Kate then screams at Miles in a more-than-aggravated tone. After talking to each of them about their various offenses (stealing a toy from another and speaking harshly to a sibling), I require the children to re-do the entire scenario. Molly Kate pretends to play with a toy and Miles walks over and asks “Molly Kate, may I play with that toy now?” Molly Kate, knowing that part of God’s command is that we put others’ desires ahead of our own and that she has had sufficient time with the toy, replies, “Okay Miles” and then hands the toy over. If she had just started playing with the toy, then she is allowed to say “Miles, I just began playing with the toy but I’ll give it to you when I’m finished” and Miles responds “Thank you Molly Kate.” I know…it definitely takes more time to re-enact these situations but after several times, its amazing to see the children respond and begin to do it right from the start. It is rare now that my children ever squabble over anything, but they have learned how to exercise self-control over their desires and kindly ask one another when they want to play with one another’s toys. This idea can be applied to many other daily situations (like when a child physically hurts another child or fails to serve someone, etc). Whatever the situation, it has been so useful and Ginger, being a mom, understands the daily demands of parenting, yet remains faithful to train her children according to the Scriptures. For that, I love her and am so thankful for this book.
My third book is The Mission of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson. I’m such a task oriented person and can so easily get caught up in training my children, homeschooling and managing our home that I forget to just love an play with my children. This book made me stop and think about the ways that I daily make life more beautiful and joyful for my little ones. I was confronted with my selfishness and recognized ways that I needed to love my children with a sacrificial love. I also love that Clarkson wrote this book once her children were older, so she’s seen the fruit of her labors and is able to share wisdom from years of parenting. She reminds me that giving all of me to my children is the exact grand purpose God designed me for and daily equips me for. If you pick up this book, I promise you won’t regret it!
Fourth on my list is Teach Them Diligently by Lou Priolo. While I didn’t love Priolo’s writing style, he definitely hits home how to use the Scriptures for regularly training your children in obedience. After reading this book, I began memorizing specific verses with the children to help them with specific disobedience areas (i.e., Colossians 4:6, Philippians 2:14, Proverbs 15:5). When a particular act of disobedience was committed, we could easily call to mind the memorized verse and the children were instantly confronted with the way they had transgressed God’s Word. This is one of those books that takes Tripp’s writing a step further and you probably won’t need until your children are out of the toddler years. Nevertheless, it has been vital to my parenting and thus, I have to recommend it as a must read!
My final book is A Mother’s Heart by Jean Flemming. I love this book and I always will. This book paints the grandeur picture of my calling and causes my heart to rise to the challenge. Again, I’m such a task-oriented, Type-A person that I need to be regularly reminded that my children need my love, my praise and my adoration. Flemming makes me heart and my head remember the bigger picture and when I feel myself pulled by the myriad of daily demands as a wife and mother, I pick up this book and read a few chapters…it never fails me!
Again, I have to make clear that these books are not the end-all…only the Bible can be our ultimate source for wisdom. But I also believe that God has gifted specific writers to help us apply His Word to our life and these books have helped me “train up my children in they way they should go”. I hope you might be encouraged to read them as well and that God would encourage you in the mighty work He as called you to, dear friends!