A Book Review from Books At a Glance
by Paul Tautges
What’s the goal of parenting? is the most important question parents should ask, but, sadly, that is not always the case. “Truth be told,” the authors write, “many—even those who have been parents for many years—never take time to formulate their parenting goals or reflect on their parenting philosophy….many of us ‘fall’ into parenting (as one might ‘fall’ in love) and probably aren’t as effective as we could be if we consciously developed parenting goals and objectives.” Because this is too often true, the Köstenbergers set out to lay out a biblical foundation and framework to guide Christian parents through each part of the life-cycle of parenting.
3 Main Sections
This framework is divided into three sections.
- PART 1: Realistic Parenting – Waking up to the real world of parenting.
The main point of this section is to awaken parents to the sober realities of parenting; that is, that parents must aim to be faithful followers of God’s Word, since they typically reproduce after their kind. Parents need to understand their child’s spiritual nature as a sinner, and their greatest need for the Savior. “Kiss perfect, idealistic parenting goodbye. Say hello to parenting in an imperfect world” (p. 96). With this in mind, the authors root parents in God’s Word, in God’s goals rather than their own.
- PART 2: Relational Parenting – Loving your children.
The love of Christian parents is exemplified as correct and biblical when its aim is to lead their children into a relationship with God, and then to foster that relationship. The authors rightly state, “There’s simply no magic formula, or series of steps, that by itself will guarantee success as a parent….More than anything then, parenting is presence.” This kind of love is also marked by biblical peacemaking, not spineless peace-keeping: “If you want to keep the peace while shying away from conflict, your definition of ‘love’ is to do whatever it takes to keep your child happy” (p. 139).
- PART 3: Responsible Parenting – Guiding your children toward responsible adulthood.
In this third, and final, section the authors charge parents to be sure they are the ones who are guiding their children, not the other way around. This means governing them with wisdom and grace through the various seasons of life, which includes their children’s education. Though the authors state that the choice of schooling options belongs to parents, they do make it clear that they believe homeschooling is the best choice. Not all readers will agree with this personal conviction. However the authors’ graciousness helps their readers to welcome and apply much wisdom from this section.
This book contains much helpful counsel in a gracious, yet convicting manner. Never are the readers scolded, but consistently encouraged to take the parenting task seriously, while pointing the hearts of their children to the Lord, and relying upon His grace to daily do so.
This book has three particular strengths. First, it is written by a husband and wife, father and mother together. This is not always the case in books on parenting. Second, the book is more about discipleship than methodology. As the title suggests, parenting is not composed of simple how-tos, but a deliberate desire and goal to be used by God, in His grace, to lead children to mature adulthood. Third, the authors rightly believe that parents, not youth workers and others, are the God-intended primary influencers of their children. This assumes two prerequisites, however, that the parents are genuine Christians who are humble, godly followers of Christ; and they also understand that they are not the only influencers. Faithful Christian parents also understand and believe they cannot perform the discipleship task alone, apart from living in submission to the local church.
Paul Tautges is senior pastor of Cornerstone Community Church in Mayfield Heights, Ohio.
Buy the books
EQUIPPING FOR LIFE: A GUIDE FOR NEW, ASPIRING, & STRUGGLING PARENTS, by Andreas & Margaret Köstenberger