Scripture does not leave us to guess about the “best deals” for parents. In every season of our children’s lives—beginning when they are very young—we are to make training them up in the discipline of the Lord our primary aim (Eph. 6:1-4).
This is a tremendous task, and far too important a topic to sufficiently cover in this series. Instead, we would encourage—no—strongly encourage you to do some study on your own. We want to recommend our four favorite books on child-training, along with a few choice excerpts.
Carolyn’s Pick: The Shaping of a Christian Family by Elisabeth Elliot
Part memoir, part parenting advice, this book not only gives simple, biblical advice for child-rearing, but a beautiful picture of a godly, loving home. Elisabeth Elliot’s parents raised six children to serve God, and she weaves their wise counsel throughout the book. Here are a few thoughts to consider:
“The trouble with so many parents is that they do not begin early enough to insist on obedience, telling the truth, and respect for parents; and unfortunately many do not behave in the home in ways that inspire respect. Love, kindness, cheerfulness, and good times should abound in every Christian home, but these are stifled where there is disobedience, disrespect, and where the children’s will dominates. Parents are God’s representatives in the home and, like Him, they should keep the right balance between Law and grace.” Philip Howard (Elisabeth Elliot’s father)
“Called to be a mother, entrusted with the holy task of cooperating with God in shaping the destinies of six people, she knew it was too heavy a burden to carry alone. She did not try. She went to Him whose name is Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father. She asked His help.” Elisabeth Elliot (describing her her mother’s faith)
Nicole’s Pick: Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp
Elisabeth Elliot recommends this book for its “remarkably clear, biblical, and practical teaching.” I keep it in the basket beside my quiet-time chair and refer back to it often. Shepherding a Child’s Heart lays a biblical foundation for parenting and builds on that with biblical methods and training objectives and procedures for each stage of your child’s life. It is gospel-centered and infused with gospel-hope. Here are a few quotes:
You live in a culture in which there are opportunities for you to do things unheard of in history. You are presented daily with scores of opportunities. There is more than you could ever do. [But] to do this job of parenting well, it must be a primary task. It is your primary calling.”
“The child trained in biblical obedience is better able to understand the gospel. The power and grace of the gospel is most deeply understood, not by those who never face their biblical duties, but by those who do.”