I began this book one move, one pregnancy and five summer birthdays ago. Needless to say, it should have been a quick read but with all we’ve had going on these past six months or so, I wasn’t able to finish it in a timely manner! I’ll begin my review by noting that I have read a lot of parenting books…biblical parenting books, adoptive parenting books, psychological and developmental parenting books and transracial parenting books. I feel like I have a fairly good grasp on the variety of wisdom that’s out there for today’s Christian parent who wants to think carefully about the way he or she rears their children. But in all my reading, I had never run across a book that so clearly puts God’s grace as witnessed in the gospel of Jesus at the forefront. So, from even the first chapter, I was convicted, encouraged, refreshed and intrigued. I certainly recommend this book as a must-read for parents desiring to daily minister the gospel to their children. And yet, I would still stand by my conviction that Tedd Tripp’s Shepherding a Child’s Heart be the first book a new parent (or a parent new to thinking about how to teach their children about Jesus) reads. I know that reading Give Them Grace opened my eyes to see how often I spout out rules to my children without ever really showing them what it means to trust in the finished work of Jesus on the cross for my sins. But I don’t feel like I would know how to put these thoughts into the context of the parenting already established in our home (which by God’s grace, He is using to work truth into the hearts of our children) had I not read Shepherding A Child’s Heart so many years ago, which really laid the foundation for where we wanted to go as parents. In my opinion, the two books compliment each other beautifully and I wish I had been able to read them back-to-back to have been given the full picture of what it means to shepherd my children in the gospel truths while giving them grace as we go.
Here are a few of my favorite quotes or excerpts from the book. Perhaps they’ll help you see why I enjoyed it so much and why I think you would too!
Again, that doesn’t mean that we don’t teach our children God’s law. We are commanded to do so but not to make them good. We are commanded to give them the law so that they will be crushed by it and see their need for a Savior. The law won’t make them good. It will make them despair of ever being good enough, and in that way it will make them open to the love, sacrifice and welcome of their Savior, Jesus Christ. p.36
The one encouragement we can always give our children (and one another) is that God is more powerful than our sin, and he’s strong enough to make us want to do the right thing. We can assure them that his help can reach everyone, even them. Our encouragement should always stimulate praise for God’s grace rather than for our goodness. p.43
We are always to do our best, striving to be obedient and to love, nurture and discipline them. But we are to do so with faith in the Lord’s ability to transform hearts, not in our ability to be consistent or faithful. p.53
Most parents know enough to confess their anger to their children. But do we regularly confess our self-righteousness and pride? Saying something like, “I can’t believe you would do something like that!” or a slight coldness followed by a disapproving look, should be followed by, “Please forgive me for forgetting that you and I are just the same. We both sin. When I say things like that, I am being self-righteous and forgetting that Jesus had to die for my sins too. I’m sure that my words were demeaning, but that’s not all they were. They were also against the truth of the gospel. Please forgive me and pray for me that the Lord will help me remember all the ways that I sin too and that he’ll make me humble and thankful for grace. pp. 72-73
In the same way, we can ask the Holy Spirit to help us see our children like he does, with great hope and love. We can ask him to help us be “grace detectives,” to be more aware of the Lord is working in their life than in how they are failing. p. 136