Read an interview with the authors at the Biblical Counseling Coalition - Give Them Grace.
A guide to help Christians parent their children with grace and an emphasis on the cross.
How are parents to raise children so they don't become Pharisees (legalists) or prodigals (rebels)? It's all about grace-filled, gospel-driven parenting, says the mother/daughter team of Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson. Christian parents, in their desire to raise godly children, can tend toward rule-centered discipline. There is, however, a far more effective method--a grace-motivated approach that begins with the glorious truth of God's love for sinners.
In Give Them Grace, parents will learn how to connect the benefits of the cross--especially regeneration, adoption, and justification--to their children's daily lives. Chapters address topics such as our inability to follow the law perfectly, God's forgiveness and love displayed at the cross, and what true heart obedience looks like. Fitzpatrick and Thompson also discuss discipline, dealing with popular culture, and evangelism as a way of life. Parents will find this book a great resource for raising grace-filled, Jesus-loving kids.
Includes a Foreword by Tullian Tchividjian
About the Authors
Elyse Fitzpatrick holds a masters in biblical counseling from Trinity Theological Seminary. She is a member of the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors, is a retreat and conference speaker, and is the head of Women Helping Women Ministries. Fitzpatrick has authored nearly a dozen books, including Because He Loves Me.
Jessica Thompson is a member of an Acts 29 church and has been homeschooling for the past two years. She is married and has three children.
Publisher: Crossway/Good News Publishers
Publication Date: June 2011
ISBN 10: 1433520095
ISBN 13: 9781433520099
Elyse and Jessica want parents to get the gospel so parents will give grace to their children. It's a good wakeup call for those who might be confused about how parenting and the gospel go together. For almost two decades I have professed belief in the need for gracious parenting but my children have not seen a consistent walk accompany my talk. This book will remind you of how parenting is about the gracious work of God and putting your hope and trust in Him. It will remind you that Jesus came to save sinful, Pharisaical parents like me and you. If you're feeling good about your kids, you will be challenged. If you're feeling bad about your kids, you will be comforted.
Pastors and small group leaders will need to thoughtfully address two issues:
1) The book does not appear to adequately appreciate the third use of the law as a guide for Christian living. In their desire to keep parents from settling for "good" children Elyse and Jessica lack clarity on how you actually give grace yet encourage "faith working through love" (Galatians 5:6). Questions 86, 114 and 115 of the Heidelberg Catechism may be helpful here.
2) I found the attempt to separate children into "regenerate" (Christian) and "unregenerate" (non-Christian) categories somewhat confusing. Presumably you determine what category your child is in based on his or her public profession of faith. They believe that, until you're able to discern that your child is a Christian, you cannot expect her or him to obey. Thus, you should only present the gospel. In appendix two, "Common Problems and the Gospel" they provide ways to respond to your children. For covenant children, this section is helpful if you disregard the "If she/he isn't a Christian" examples. I'd say if you have a professing atheist in your family then you might consider this approach. If not, encourage age appropriate expressions of faith in your children and give credit to the Holy Spirit when you see Him at work. Stephen Smallman expresses it well:
"But once we understand that regeneration is a hidden work of God, then we can pray and believe that the Spirit would begin that work very early in our children's lives. It will probably be several years before our children express that faith in a public confession. But that doesn't mean the Spirit hasn't been at work from a very early point in their lives. I think many parents are particularly zealous to press their children to make some sort of 'decision for Jesus' because they think that such a point marks the beginning of their spiritual lives. Actually, the beginning is the mysterious work that only the Spirit can do."
If you are interested in reading more, I would commend Smallman's booklet, How Our Children Come to Faith, as a useful summary of how Gospel promises relate to and can be communicated to children in a Christian home.
- D. A. Cason, Westminster Bookstore Staff, 2011
Read a review at the Biblical Counseling Coalition -
Give Them Grace.
“So many Christian parents fall into the trap of asking the law to do in the hearts of their children what only grace can accomplish. Armed with threats, manipulation, and guilt, they attempt to create change that only the cross of Jesus Christ makes possible. It is so encouraging to read a parenting book that points parents to the grace of the cross and shows them how to be instruments of that grace in the lives of their children.”
- Paul Tripp, President, Paul Tripp Ministries
“Elyse Fitzpatrick continues her never-ending quest to churn out grace-filled, Christ-centered, gospel-saturated books. And now she’s done it again with her daughter, Jessica, coauthoring this excellent parenting book! If you are a parent, get online and order your copy of Give Them Grace today!”
- Deepak Reju, Pastor of Biblical Counseling and Families, Capitol Hill Baptist Church
“The authors—mother and daughter—remind us that parenting is not only hard but also impossible. Yes, we need to nurture, teach, discipline, train, pray, and model, but we must not depend on our parenting skills to change the hearts of our children. Instead, they counsel parents to ‘rely on the faithfulness of Jesus, our great high priest, to change their hearts.’ Grace for both parents and children flows through the pages of this book; I only wish I had read it at the beginning of my parenting instead of the end.”
- Rose Marie Miller, missionary; speaker; author, From Fear to Freedom
“This is not just a book on parenting; this is deep training in the gospel. Elyse Fitzpatrick shows parents how to model themselves after the heavenly Father, who changed his children not by wrath and the law but by grace. A lot of books talk about gospel-centeredness in theory; this book shows you how to apply it to one of life’s most important relationships.”
- J. D. Greear, Senior Pastor, The Summit Church, Durham, North Carolina
“In our human attempts to raise good and godly kids, we often forget that God extended his best grace to us. We are not full of grace on our own; we desperately need his grace. Elyse Fitzpatrick and her daughter, Jessica, provide a great tool to guide parents down the road of gracious parenting. I commend it to you.”
- James MacDonald, Senior Pastor, Harvest Bible Chapel, Chicagoland Area; radio teacher, Walk in the Word