So today, my topic is one I’ve been nervous to tell you guys about. Mostly because I had/have heard not-so-great things about it in the past (when I worked at EFREE in St. Louis mostly). But I’m breaking out today! Jeremy and I have been working through an EXCELLENT parenting Bible study with our HFG (aka Home Fellowship Group, aka small group Bible study) that was very controversal a few years ago and probably still is a bit in Christian circles today. It’s called Growing Kids God’s Way. There, I said it. I admitted it! AH! Gasp!
*Here’s my disclaimer though: The things I’ve heard in the past were that it (Growing Kids God’s Way) can be bad because people get a bit too legalistic about it and don’t balance the book with good common sense. In fact, the pastor at our church whom we spoke with before we did this Bible study made us promise we would not be legalistic in our approach to this study. However, those of you who know Jeremy and I well can probably attest that we are not the legalistic types and have a pretty good working base of common sense.
Since becoming a parent, I’ve found that what I (and Jeremy too) enjoy most is reading a lot of different books on parenting and then coming to my own conclusions based on 4 things: (1) my relationship with God, (2) my relationship with Jeremy, (3) how God created Cooper and (4) the good sense the Lord gave me. So far, so good. But this book has been a nice addition to that filing cabinet folder of ‘parenting’. I will say that I don’t agree with EVERYTHING they (Ezzos) say and there are a few things I think “blah” to; but the good deeply outweigh the bad if you are looking at the principles which the book is teaching. I will also add that we are not done with the book yet; we are on chapter 8, and we are doing the middle one called “Let the Children Come Along the Virtuous Way“. We didn’t do the baby one and I heard that one had a few issues.
This book has been so great as a Christian parent. I betcha that I am not alone (among those who are also Christian parents) in longing to see my child, and any subsequent children, come to a vibrant and loving, living and active relationship with Jesus Christ that will govern their hearts and minds for all their days. I can honestly say that is my deepest hope and desire for Cooper. And because that is my deepest hope and desire for Cooper, I think that Jeremy and I can unabashadely say that we are willing to go to whatever lengths necessary to see that happen and in addition, we are highly aware of the fact that the way we parent Cooper (and subsequent chitlens) has a direct affect on his/their introduction to Jesus and life relating with and for Jesus. That’s a weighty thought!
This book has been great because it has done 2 things for me; it has reminded me and retaught me WHY and WHAT the Bible teaches us, i.e. certain mandates and principles of holy living and (2) it has given me practical examples/applications of HOW I/we can accomplish leading Cooper in those virtuous ways of the Lord. That’s good because the why is obviously biblical and I agree whole-heartedly with their assertions (such as the idea that ALL people are precious to God) and because I am free in my relationship with Christ to disagree with the hows when they suggest a certain way of fleshing out that biblical principle.
It’s hard sometimes as a Christian parent to think of ways to practically flesh out your faith in your family. I hope that doesn’t sound too dumb. I know that Jeremy and I are always looking for ways to bring our world-view into our parenting. Let me add that while I don’t believe that I would have a good perspective if I read this book and this book alone (in fact I still highly recommend Dan Allender’s book, “How Children Raise Parents”), I certainly think it offers a wealth of information in those aformentioned practical applications.
Let me show you the break down in the table of contents;
- How to Raise a Moral Child
- Right Beginnings
- Touchpoints of Love
- The Father’s Mandate
- Your Child’s Conscience
- Character Development: Respect for Authority and Parents
- Character Development: Respect for Age
- Character Development: Respect for Peers, Property and Nature (*here’s where we are now)
- Principles of Obedience
- Discipline with Encouragement
- Discipline with Correction
- Consequences and Punishment
- Repentance, Forgiveness and Restoration
- Discipline Issues (Part One)
- Discipline Issues (Part Two)
- The Appeal Process
- Building a Healthy Family
Probably one of the best things the Ezzo’s have said in this book that was incredibly eye-opening to me was based on Deuteronomy 6:4-7. He said that if you’ll notice, we as parents have a tendency to reprimand/teach our children in moments of conflict. I.e, when they have done something wrong and are in need of correction. However, when you look at Deuteronomy 6:4-7, that’s not what God tells us to do! As parents we are to teach our children principles of godly living by talking with them “when we sit in our house, when we walk along the road/way and when we lie down and rise up”. Isn’t that convicting?
Before this study, I don’t think I took the time to talk to Cooper about what was expected of him as my son in the moments where we were just hanging out. But this is the time when he is the MOST responsive and attentive to what I have to say. I’ve noticed a huge difference in him as Jeremy and I have taken the time to talk to him about important biblical principles (in a kids version of course) outside of a moment of conflict or correction. He does so much better when we explain to him what is expected and when we offer the why. And then, if correction is necessary, we defer back to our previous conversation as a reminder to him that this was already discussed.
One more thing to share and then I’ll close it up. Here is a direct quote from the first chapter that was very beautiful to me:
“There are many wonderful religious and ethical teachings in the world, but the motive for doing deeds of righteousness is the pursuit of salvation – man seeking favor with God. For many, individual acts of goodness are but steps to heaven. Not so for the Christian. We do right because positionally we have already come to the city of God, the heavenly Jerusalem (Hebrews 12:22-23). We are to set our affections on the things above (Colossians 3:1-2). Our goodness, then, is a love response to God rooted in our relationship with Christ. ‘We are to love one another, for love is of God’ (1 John 4:7a). Therefore, we who are targets of God’s love ought to be targets of one another’s love. This is the summation of the Ten Commandments and the duty of man as stated by Jesus-love God and love your neighbor (Mark 12:29-31).”
Isn’t that a beautiful statement? WOW! What a high and beautiful calling we have as parents; to teach our children how to love God and how to love their neighbor. Anway, that’s my schpeel for today. I have found this book to make the most beautiful statements and reflections on the importance of our roles as moms and dads. I hope you’ll check it out. It’s a little old fashioned and hokey at times (we’ve made fun of it a-plenty doing the video series as it was filmed in like the early 80’s), but it has encouraged me as a mom both in how I relate to God, to Jeremy, to Cooper and to those both in and outside my family.