Give Them Grace

I started reading this book late in 2014 and finished January 2015. Those months of off and on reading have been filled with some of my hardest times as a parent and some of my greatest times of growth too.

The book, Give Them Grace, was written by Elyse Fitzpatrick (one of my new favorite authors) and her daughter, Jessica Thompson. Elyse offers the majority of the writing with the on-hand and current parenting of her daughter as well.

This book is different than any parenting book I know of and more than helping me to "be a better parent," it has shown me the magnitude of God's grace and opened my eyes to the awesome privilege I have to show his grace daily to my children that they may come to love God themselves.

You should read this book! Not because you may be a struggling parent. Not because you want to read one more of the thousands of parenting books out there. But because it will remind you (or lead you for the first time) of God's goodness in the grace he shows daily to us and how we can extend His grace - and not our own - to others. I think the major realization that I had while reading, though I have always been aware - was my repeated attempts to parent/live my life in my own strength and only crying out to God when I felt helpless or at a loss for what to do. Increasingly in my life there have been many parenting (and otherwise) moments of desperation which is why I finally read this book. I wish I could say that now everything is "fixed" and I don't struggle anymore. But we all know that's now how life works - even though sometimes we wish so much for the "magic bullet." I can say that I am more aware of God's grace in my life and I look for situations where I can speak the gospel into my children''s lives. I cherish my role as parent even more.

Some quotes or main points from the book that I love; though I can't quote the whole book (stepping on the toes of plagiarism here) or summarize every point so you feel like you don't have to read it. Please read it for yourself, you can borrow my copy if you want.

  • "You are a christian parent but is your parenting christian? Grace, or the free favor that has been lavished on us through Christ, ought to make our parenting radically different from what unbelievers do."
  • "Even though our children cannot and will not obey God's law, we need to teach it to them again and again. And when they tell us that they can't love God or others in this way, we are not to argue with them. We are to agree with them and tell them of their need for a Savior." 
  • "Raising good kids is utterly impossible unless they are drawn by the Holy Spirit to put their faith in the goodness of another. You cannot raise good kids, because you are not a good parent." 
  • "We want to free you from the unbelief and works righteousness that rob you of the comforts of grace... we want to encourage you to live by faith in the Son of God, who loves you and gave himself for you (Gal. 2:20), not by your own efforts." 
  • speaking on prayer: "Because of Jesus, your Father delights to hear the sound of your voice, the same way I love to hear my grandchild's voice, except exponentially more so." 
  • "As his children we long to make his glory known by our faithful obedience. That is a good desire, but a strong, successful family may not be the way he has chosen for us to glorify him. Perhaps his goal is that we glorify him by demonstrating weakness and even failure." 
  • "Our weakness is the place where we learn to depend on his power." 
  • "I asked her, 'How would you raise your children if all you had was the Bible?' 'Well, I guess I would love them, discipline them, and tell them about Jesus.' I smiled and answered, 'Right.'"
  • "Parenting in grace is not parenting on the basis of your own consistent gospel-centeredness. It is just the opposite. Parenting in grace is parenting on the basis of Christ's consistent perfections alone." 
The authors do give 5 categories of parenting and an appendix in the back with examples of what you can say and do when your children do "this or that" so part of my desire for a checklist of helps was appeased. She gives examples from the Bible and verses to encourage. She also has a whole chapter with hypothetical situations to deeper show you how grace should affect your parenting.

The last section of the book is an amazing retelling of the gospel, called The One Good Story. So it's worth it just for that alone.

One last quote: "So go ahead. Freely dazzle your babies with the cross of Christ. Give them grace when they succeed and grace when they fail. Show them how much he loves little children, like you... Then, when you give them grace like this, you'll find yourself dazzled by his love and grace, too."