Let’s start off with pure honesty… Parenting is difficult! Every parent that I have spoken to has explained how becoming a parent was and still is the most difficult thing that they have ever done, but at the same time children are also one of the greatest gifts from God. But wouldn’t we all love a ‘how to’ manual on raising children? I don’t even have children yet and I’d love to read that kind of manual.
I have read a number of books on parenting and on how to interact and serve children for the sake of the gospel, but because I’m not a parent I haven’t reviewed any of them due to my inexperience in this area. But I was recently sent a copy of Raising Kids in the way of Grace and thought that I’d review it because I know that many of you who stumble across this blog are parents.
When I first picked up the book the title intrigued me, and I was not disappointed.
Kellemen takes the word ‘grace’, uses it as an acronym, and in each chapter takes one letter and expands on that principle. The acronym is made up of 5 practical marks of grace–focused parenting:
G—Mark 1: God–Dependent Parents—Parental Dedication
R—Mark 2: Revelation–Based Parental Wisdom—Parental Discernment
A—Mark 3: Affectionate and Affirming Grace Relationships—Parental Devotion
C—Mark 4: Care–fronting Our Children’s Heart—Parental Discipline
E—Mark 5: Equipping Our Children for the Race of Life—Parental Discipleship
Whilst this book is written specifically to parents, even if you are not a parent, don’t let that stop you from reading it. The principles laid out in this book are relevant for every Christian because as Kellemen states at the outset of his book:
“to become a more powerful parent, we must become a more godly person: a person dedicated to dependence upon God”
Kellemen bases his book on Ephesians 4:6 “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” (NIV), and takes principles from there but also looks at other parts of Ephesians.
He starts by stressing the importance of being dependent on God and the necessity of knowing who your enemy is – the devil. As I have journeyed through my few years in life and in church one of the things that I have seen countless times is that Satan hates families, couples and individuals who are trying to live out a God–glorifying life. Kellemen uses the armour of God in Ephesians 6 to help parents see how they can defend themselves from the devil and live a life dependent on the grace of God.
“Consciousness of our final victory [through Christ] provides us with a future hope which keeps us going through present turmoil”
Kellemen goes on to say that a parent’s life should be based on a true knowledge of, and devotion to God, that way their parenting will be revealing who God is to their children. Children learn about God from the examples that they have at home. Just as God is our Shepherd so parents are to shepherd their families and constantly point them to the glory of God as revealed in Jesus and in Scriptures. This isn’t easy, when you come home after a hard day’s work, or after being in the house all day without speaking to another adult. The hardest thing to do is to example Christ to your children, but that’s where depending on God and His strength comes in.
The way parents communicate with children is important; we don’t want to appear like we have life sorted, we don’t want to have a ‘social media fakeness’ about us, but we want to be real and honest about our lives.
“Our honesty about our sins and imperfections will send a message to our children that they can sin and find grace and that they can mess up and have hope, for all people are imperfect.”
Kellemen touches the thorny issue of discipline but he doesn’t give a list of do’s and don’t’s, rather he speaks about how parents are God’s moral ambassadors and should be training their children to set them up for a life lived well for the glory of God.
Finally, Kellemen speaks about equipping your children for their life ahead by teaching them about God, His Will and His Word. From my own experience the best thing a parent scan do is point their children to the eternal truth of God, teach them to worship Him accordingly and pray that the Holy Spirit would be drawing them to God.
It’ll take you about 2 hours to read this short book, but the biblical principles that it tells will stretch to help you over many years as you try to point children to our Great Father.
This review by Alistair Chalmers first appeared on his blog ‘Chalmers’ Blog’.