The Myth of the Biblical Parenting Method (and free book give away)

There is a huge difference in Biblical parenting principles and Biblical parenting methods.

Method: a specific procedure, technique, or practical way of doing something.

Principle: a fundamental law or general truth from which others are derived and determined.

Methods are drawn from understanding and applying principles. In terms of Biblical parenting, I and my friends are longing for methods. We are longing for someone to tell us the tangible, practical techniques that will aid us in rearing our children in Christ and the Word. My mom’s group Bible study is looking for a PRACTICAL study on Biblical parenting. Readers of this blog ask me regularly for PRACTICAL techniques they can use with their kids. And I long for it myself – someone please hand me a grace-based, gospel-centered MANUAL of methods. Enough with the principles. Enough with inspiring me to parent my children the way God parents His in light of the gospel. I’ve got it. I understand the principles. Now tell me what to do when my 5 year old son decides to relieve himself on the back of my 13 year old dog at 6 am in the morning. What specific procedure, technique, or practical way of handling that fits with the fundamental truths of my Christian faith?!

As each day passes, I am becoming more and more convinced that there will never be THAT book. There will never be a practical manual of specific gospel-centered techniques for parenting our children. At least not one I can recommend to others. I’ve seen it tried a time or two, and it inevitably fails. I loved Shepherding a Childs Heart … until it got into specific techniques. It made great points on the Biblical principles at play, but it broke down when it got into methods, particularly on the topic of the rod. Then there is Ezzo’s Babywise and the Pearl’s To Train Up a Child – both heavy on method. Many would argue the Pearls’ in particular is horrible, abusive method contrary to the gospel, to which I heartily agree.

In contrast, I have read many great gospel-centered parenting books, but the really good ones seem to understand that a gospel-centered approach doesn’t lend itself well to specific, quantifiable methods. Examples are different than methods, by the way. A good author who understands the difference in the gospel and law guards themselves from breaking down the line between what worked for them (example) and what will work for you (method), between what they found helpful and what they project onto you that all good parents should do. Here are some books that I have found helpful with principles and overarching foundational Biblical truths.

Families Where Grace is in Place

Give Them Grace (Elyse Fitzpatrick does offer practical ideas and examples and even has a section at the end with specific words to use. Knowing the heart of man, this section runs the risk of becoming what most attempts at method have become in the Church – more law. Also, she distinguishes between believing and unbelieving children with her strategies. This will be problematic if you hold a covenant view of your children. Otherwise, this one gave me a lot to think about in terms of the Biblical difference in law and grace in my parenting and is the one we will likely use in our mom’s group Bible study this quarter.)

Parenting is Your Highest Calling: And 8 Other Myths That Trap Us in Worry and Guilt

Grace-Based Parenting

Instead of finding a Christian parenting book with gospel centered methods, I’ve had more success learning practical ideas from secular resources. Then I’m not tempted to adopt those methods as the righteous choice, as a spiritual law. When the resource is secular, I feel freedom to adopt methods for my family because they work in light of our Biblical parenting principles and no guilt at all when I discard a method that is not working for our family or does not fit our principles. There are a ton of resources on positive discipline, which is the secular buzzword in my experience that will give you the most ideas of methods that fit a truly Biblical, gospel centered paradigm for parenting.

In terms of Biblical principles, here are the big picture, overarching themes that I want to govern my parenting.

Parenting my children the way God parents His
In light of the gospel
That teaches there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus …
And equips us to do unto others with grace
Under the greatest command of loving God and loving others.

I know these principles, these truths, and I hold them dearly. My secular cooperative preschool is the place I have gotten the most helpful practical ideas that I could use in my family under these overarching principles. I listened to the parent educator and watched the teachers at work. So many of their methods fit right into my gospel-centered principles. It was positive, proactive discipline, not shame-based, reactive punishment. I chose the methods that worked for our family based on my convictions and my children’s personalities. And sometimes, the same things don’t work two days in a row. Methods have to be open handed things, while the Bible principles never change.

Here’s my final thought on this topic. We are never going to get a set of METHODS that works for the long haul. And be very wary of teachers or other parents who try to convince you they’ve found some. Principles work for the long haul. Methods do not. And parenting our children the way God parents His is much more about relationship than method. I don’t think God has methods and strategies for me. He has a relationship with me, and He interacts with me and disciplines me out of that relationship. Doing that with our kids as fallen parents requires wrestling with the principles in play, wrestling with our children’s personalities in light of the gospel, and wrestling with our Father in heaven. Don’t cop out and accept an easy answer. Stay engaged in this life long commitment called parenting and don’t get frustrated that it doesn’t come easy. As Paul Miller said in A Praying Life, I do my best parenting of all when I’m wrestling with God over the gospel for my children on my knees. I guess if there is any method I recommend, that’s it.

**I have a free copy of Give Them Grace to give away. Please just leave a comment and I will draw a name around midnight EST Monday evening. **

***The book has a new owner now. Thanks to all who commented!***

78 Responses to The Myth of the Biblical Parenting Method (and free book give away)

  1. Karen September 5, 2011 at 2:16 am #

    Like you, I try to follow God's example and principles when parenting. I wish there was the perfect how-to parenting method or book out there, but there's no substitute for being intentional about building a godly relationship with your children.

  2. Jane September 5, 2011 at 2:19 am #

    So what did you do when your 5 year old son decided to relieve himself on the back of my 13 year old dog at 6 am in the morning?

    (Sorry couldn't resist 🙂

  3. Daisy September 5, 2011 at 2:19 am #

    This was a fabulous and much-needed post. Another great book on parenting that I enjoyed and specifically states that children need relationships and not 10-step plans was “Heartfelt Discipline” by Clarkson.

  4. kaseye September 5, 2011 at 2:21 am #

    I have also enjoyed Paul Tripp Instructing Your Childs Heart

  5. Kathi Hayes September 5, 2011 at 2:25 am #

    I appreciate your remarks about parenting. It is definitely a life-long commitment that requires dependence on the Lord.

  6. Being A Butterfly September 5, 2011 at 2:30 am #

    Thank you for this post! It has been very helpful and informative.

  7. Prasti September 5, 2011 at 2:35 am #

    And parenting our children the way God parents His is much more about relationship than method.

    Amen! I agree. Thank you for this insightful post.

  8. Nancy H. September 5, 2011 at 2:39 am #

    Thanks for your (as always!) thought-provoking post, Wendy!

  9. strengthfortoday September 5, 2011 at 2:42 am #

    “Give Them Grace” is exceptional, IMO. Currently leading a discussion group through it.

  10. the three wise menn September 5, 2011 at 2:44 am #

    Ahhh…parenting. Just when I feel like I'm doing okay my kid tries to steal snack in Sunday School. 😉
    Seriously though, I have read pretty much all of the first list of books (babywise, tedd tripp) although I steered clear of the abusive one.
    And I have read Grace Based Parenting. I am finding after three years of parenting that I basically have no idea what I'm doing some days and just choose to do my best to obey what I believe the Bible calls me to as a parent, and pray that God would make up for what I lack.
    If somebody ever figures the rest out let me know. 🙂

    Andrea

  11. Katie September 5, 2011 at 3:07 am #

    As a young woman expecting my first child soon, I'd love a book that lays out biblical principals for parenting! Our church is pretty good on principals not methods, but I'm a reader and would love to have it all in print.

  12. Wendy September 5, 2011 at 3:22 am #

    Jane, that was an interesting situation! Of course, I got it all wrong at first. Accusation. “How could you do that?!” “WHY did you do that?” Angrily cleaning it up. I sinned and had to preach the gospel to myself first. After the initial crisis and a few cups of coffee, I leaned into relationship and worked with him on telling me the truth as the most important thing in that moment. Turns out they were trying to trap the dogs and had them cornered downstairs, and he forgot “to listen to his pee message.” (one of my favorite preschool sayings). So mostly it was an accident, though we've talked about not corralling the dogs anymore. There's no manual on that one, though!

  13. leslie g. September 5, 2011 at 4:10 am #

    thank you for another encouraging post 🙂

  14. Mom of 8 September 5, 2011 at 4:40 am #

    I love Give Them Grace so far. My mom is asking to borrow my copy, so maybe this way I can get her a copy! 🙂 Great recommendations – I will have to check them out! Thank you – I am in the middle of a great paradigm shift in my parenting!

  15. Ana Brooks September 5, 2011 at 8:20 am #

    Thank you for this writing this; it's really helpful.

  16. Anonymous September 5, 2011 at 12:40 pm #

    Great blog posting. Love your writing and perspective. I would love to win a copy of the book.
    Jennifer in Pa

  17. Alicia M September 5, 2011 at 12:43 pm #

    Thanks for this post. I'm a new mom of an 8 month old little boy. I have struggled with feeling uncomfortable with the reasoning behind many of the popular supposed biblical methods commonly taught in the church. I still long for methods, because it seems much easier, but I know in the long run, I would rather see the fruits of relationship over methods.

  18. Anonymous September 5, 2011 at 1:06 pm #

    Grace, my, my, my………….lots of moms, christian or not practice grace every day, not knowing it, it's instinct, it comes from God and no one can define it clearly. As CS Lewis wrote, “defining grace is like nailing smoke to a door”. Thank you for directing moms, new and old to this focus. Please consider me for a free copy. Thank you and God bless.

  19. Raine September 5, 2011 at 1:39 pm #

    Thanks for this post. I found myself shocked at the advice in many of the books recommended to me by other Christians, so I've mostly been just trying to figure things out on my own. So far, so goo,d but he's only 17 months, so I can use all the help I can get. 🙂

  20. Leaksinthename September 5, 2011 at 1:44 pm #

    I am thankful for you and this blog. I am a pastor and teacher and link to you often for the benefit of my congregation. Blessings on your work and thank you for this good post.

  21. Melissa B. September 5, 2011 at 1:51 pm #

    I'm still trying to shake the image of your son peeing on the dog! LOL! I'd love to win the book as I have kids 7-17 and don't think I've ever gotten it right!

  22. Aimee September 5, 2011 at 2:00 pm #

    Loved Grace Based Parenting, would love to read Fitzpatrick's book, too. This post is describing the conclusion I have been coming to, also. My oldest is 7, and I feel that we have been parenting our 3 trying to please my in-laws, which is definitelly a more law, less grace way. I often think over the years that have been wasted, the years in which I have begun to encourage my children to be Pharisees. Ah, well, Grace IS a wonderful thing, and I think we as parents also need to give more to ourselves!!

  23. Marcy September 5, 2011 at 2:02 pm #

    I would LOVE to win this book!!

  24. js September 5, 2011 at 2:04 pm #

    Love your blog. So encouraging to me. Would love to be encouraged by this book as well!

  25. Alyssa September 5, 2011 at 2:10 pm #

    thanks Wendy! good thoughts, as always.

  26. Eliz. K September 5, 2011 at 2:38 pm #

    encouraging post– thank you!!

  27. Erin L. September 5, 2011 at 2:48 pm #

    I beleieve no perfect book on methods will exist becuase no child is the same and just as God deals with us according to knowledge so must we with our children. I have tried various methods without regard to personality and it has been sadly counterproductive. I am greatful for good suggestions, but must both know my child and have the wisdom to decern the “fit” of the method. Thanks for the post!

  28. Bethany R September 5, 2011 at 2:58 pm #

    Thanks for your comments and book offer. Always helpful and thought provoking to read your posts. I look forward to reading this book whether or not I win it.

  29. Anonymous September 5, 2011 at 3:28 pm #

    Your Paul Miller quote is right on, and more so as your children get older.

  30. Billy September 5, 2011 at 4:23 pm #

    Very encouraging post. Thanks.

  31. Sadie September 5, 2011 at 4:56 pm #

    My husband and I are expecting our first next month and are very excited to read a grace based parenting book, we've heard this is a really good one.

  32. Melynda September 5, 2011 at 5:16 pm #

    I'm due with our first baby in November, and even though we have some time before we practically implement discipline techniques, building a foundation is so important to me. My hope and prayer for our son is that he would see how good God is, I didn't grow up in a Christian home so at times it feels daunting to communicate Gods truth and love to this little person, but I also find peace in knowing that ultimately God is the only one to change and grow hearts. Thanks for the post!

  33. Seasonsmom September 5, 2011 at 5:40 pm #

    What a great, thought provoking post! Please, do enter me in the giveaway as well. While I have my reservations with a lot of principle based books as well and agree with the myth of a Biblical parenting method I also learned not to throw away the entire baby with the bath water. For me personally when throwing something totally aside was bringing in too much bitterness. A lot of them do offer hands on every day situations (if we read btw the lines. Take for example the infamous To Train up a Child, in the follow ups of it there are-No greater joy 1,2,3,4 all have parents asking questions and the authors giving their opinion, that's where you, the parent, become the decision maker, acting on someone else's interpretation of discipline and grace or asking the Lord to show you if that is acceptable and what He desires for your children and family. While I am not endorsing the Pearl's Method as being it, the author has done a good job demonstrating punishment and grace in light of the gospel on may occasions. I have to give them credit for it. They did try to emphasize grace and love in the entire unpleasant process of disciplining, especially AFTER the use of the rod. I wish in their book they emphasized more the need for a parent to draw final decisions on the discipline method by the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I found a couple of those in their first book, but not enough. Thanks for being so candid. I love your blog!

  34. smilau September 5, 2011 at 5:41 pm #

    I wavered about whether or not to comment. I've been sincerely blessed by many of your posts, and I want to be careful in my response. However, after reading this post as well as your post on the “rod,” I had the feeling that a Scripture that is no longer “politically correct” was being explained away. My heart goes out to anyone who has been inappropriately spanked, but words can also be horribly abusive. Just because some misuse a Biblical method does not mean that the Scripture is wrong.

    A few years ago, I asked my mom why she avoided giving out advice to young parents. She said, “They rarely really want to hear the truth.” How sad – she and my dad raised five children who are all now adults, with jobs, happy marriages, homes, and children of their own. All five of us love God and our parents.

    We are vastly different from each other in personality (one of my brothers has Down Syndrome). Some of us required more discipline than others, but consistency was key and spanking was a part of that discipline. None of us ever felt abused or unloved, and spanking definitely wasn't their only mode of discipline. I've heard people say that they wished their parents would have just disciplined them and gotten it over with instead of dragging a punishment on for days. As much as I disliked a spanking at the time, it allowed the punishment to happen, get over with, and for us to more forward as a family with a happy life. Spanking, when done in a non abusive manner, is Scriptural and effective.

    Non believers frequently tell me, “You were so lucky, you had the greatest childhood.” I wholeheartedly agree.

  35. Mel September 5, 2011 at 6:06 pm #

    My husband and I have been reading (a reprint of) H. Clay Trumbull's “Hints on Child Training” lately. And I've been surprised at how relational his suggestions are (while de-emphasizing whipping and controlling methods). He sounds so modern and “politically correct” for an old guy (originally published 1890!!)

    Oh how human nature *longs* for a check-list!! 🙂 But grace is messy and unpredictable. Self-sacrificing!! Thanks for the reminder that methods are not the answer.

  36. Joy K. September 5, 2011 at 6:15 pm #

    Great insight. Thanks for the post!

  37. K September 5, 2011 at 6:48 pm #

    Thanks for this post. I'd love to read the book!

  38. Karon September 5, 2011 at 7:22 pm #

    I really liked what you said about choosing ideas from secular books, and applying them within the guidelines of the Biblical principles you use in your family. I would love to read the book you are giving away!

  39. Kristi September 5, 2011 at 8:16 pm #

    While I was never able to have children of my own, I would love to have a copy of this book (DH and I heard a great interview by the author when it was first released) so I can be a super aunt to my nieces and nephew!

    Love your blog! Thank you!!

  40. southernbelle825 September 5, 2011 at 8:44 pm #

    THANK YOU for this post! Also, will you please elaborate on what you mean by having a “covenant view of your children”?

  41. Katie T. September 5, 2011 at 8:47 pm #

    Thank you for these words! You've laid out perfectly how I've felt in 3 short years of parenting.

  42. Wendy September 5, 2011 at 8:58 pm #

    Thanks for the great comments! Smilau and others who mentioned the rod, the main point I want to make is that while some may be trying to explain hard Scriptures away to be politically correct, the truth from Scripture itself is that spanking is never commanded. It's allowed, but that's VERY different than saying it is commanded and that you are a bad parent if you don't spank. Ted Tripp was irresponsible with Scripture in his chapter on the Rod. He basically says that parents who do not spank are not properly disciplining their children. And that is dead wrong. I discipline my children ALL THE TIME in accordance with Scripture's instructions, but spanking may or may not be in the equation and is not the standard for whether discipline is Biblical or not.

  43. Becky September 5, 2011 at 9:50 pm #

    Thank you for this post. I have read most of the books you mention and have gained valuable info from each (yes, even the Pearls'; I agree with a previous poster that they do apply much grace and freedom in the Q&A books). You have to apply wisdom and much prayer for yourself.

  44. Ashley September 5, 2011 at 9:56 pm #

    I have been wanting to read “Give Them Grace” for a while now, so I'd love to win a copy. Thanks for the very encouraging post!

  45. Roberta September 5, 2011 at 10:58 pm #

    Thank you for sharing this book, I would love the chance to win a copy.

  46. margaret September 6, 2011 at 12:35 am #

    Please…pick me, pick me!! Thanks for each of your insightful posts. We appreciate you so much!!

  47. Greg Verrall September 6, 2011 at 12:49 am #

    Hi Wendy,
    I am in Australia, so I don't expect to qualify for the free book.

    I teach parenting at our Church. We have about 100 children under 13, and about the same number in their teens.

    What you say is correct, there will never be a book on parenting methods, as they change so regularly, and are different for each child, and change from day-to-day on the same child. A sound knowledge of the principles is necessary, and then the parent (who knows their own child better than anyone else) can form the methods from there.

    One of the things I have done is setup a Gospel Centred Parenting Group on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Gospel-Centred-Biblical-Parenting/126262249424) to help parents to share ideas, thoughts and methods in relation to parenting, if anyone reading this is interested.
    This page has about 720 followers now, most of which are not in Australia, and not on my friends list.

    Some parenting books that I recommend are:
    The Jesus Storybook Bible – Lloyd Jones
    Shepherding a Childs Heart – Tripp
    Don't make me count to three – Plowman
    Teach the Diligently – Priolo
    Age of opportunity – Tripp
    Gospel Powered Parenting – Farley
    Grace Based Parenting – Kimmel
    Instructing a Child's Heart – Tripp
    The Parent Adventure – Wilson
    Disciple like Jesus – Melton
    Everyday Talk – Younts
    and there are probably others that slip my mind at the moment.

    Hope this helps in some way.

    Greg

  48. Wendy September 6, 2011 at 1:01 am #

    Greg, thanks for adding some awesome resources!

  49. pw2005 September 6, 2011 at 1:38 am #

    I am starting a new mom's group study tomorrow that challenges us as mom's to be gospel-centered, but I too have been yearning for more direction on gospel-centered parenting. I would love to win a copy of this book . . .especially if it is something my husband and I both can read and agree on! I look forward to checking out Greg's suggestions as well.

  50. carissa September 6, 2011 at 2:42 am #

    I just joined a discussion group on “Give Them Grace” and I'm so challenged to pt my kids to the cross and the gospel in all areas! Thanks for writing this.

  51. Esther September 6, 2011 at 2:56 am #

    Great post, my husband taught a parenting class with similar content at our church last year. Thanks!

  52. thankful4adoption.blogspot.com September 6, 2011 at 3:31 am #

    I am often asked what parenting book we use to create our discipline strategy and my response has been that Paul Millers, “A Praying Life” is the best parenting book I have ever read. Thanks for this post!

  53. Wendy September 6, 2011 at 4:36 am #

    Smilau is the winner of the book give away. You can email your address to me at theologyforwomen@gmail.com. Thanks, all!

  54. Rachel September 6, 2011 at 4:37 am #

    This post is an answer to prayer! Thank you for taking the time to write this thought out piece- I was very encouraged by it – I just finished Grace Based Parenting and started reading Shepherding a Child's Heart… Excited to have more recommended titles from you to try!

  55. Kristie September 6, 2011 at 11:23 am #

    Great post Wendy – Thanks!

  56. Lyn September 6, 2011 at 12:29 pm #

    Thanks for this Wendy – great insights! I have the same question as SouthernBelle825 and am wondering if you could further explain the “covenant view” of children? I came to faith later in life (when my kids were teens) so my parenting has undergone some interesting changes… but I've never thought of children as unbelieving. Thanks!

  57. Pia September 6, 2011 at 1:38 pm #

    From one, too, who has at times longed for method……..If we, human beings created in God's image, could be raised by method alone then God could be understood. I'm glad we serve a God we can't understand.

  58. Pia September 6, 2011 at 1:47 pm #

    Oh, forgot to add a recommendation, which I don't see above:
    Like Dew Your Youth by Eugene Peterson

  59. Salena September 6, 2011 at 9:56 pm #

    Love this…thank you!

  60. Roberta September 6, 2011 at 11:04 pm #

    I'm a grandmother. A book that helped me is called “Help! I'm a Parent.” It is by Bruce Narramore. I don't know if it is in print anymore.

  61. Luma September 7, 2011 at 1:03 am #

    Wendy, I'm grateful for this post, I need a continual reminder to walk by grace in the light of the gospel and not to fall back on man-made methods.

    I read Elyse Fitzpatrick's “Give Them Grace” this summer. Last year I read “Grace Based Parenting” by Kimmel, that was my first exposure to (for lack of a better word) grace-based parenting. We spent too many years practicing methods that either didn't fit our children or loaded us up guilt and sent us spiraling toward frustration, anger, and harshness. I thank God we never bought into the Pearls' methods. They can call it Christian discipline all they want but that is NOT Christ-honoring love.

    I really liked “Give Them Grace” even given the fact that we hold a covenantal view of children. It gave us another opportunity to think through what we believe and why we believe it. I also thought she did a good job stressing to the reader NOT to turn her practical advice to law.

    Kimmel's “Grace Based Parenting” was actually very good, in spite of the fact that I differ from him theologically. It helped me to love and pour much grace on my 17 year old. She is living with her dad now, but I will always be grateful that her last year with us was one filled with love, compassion, and true gospel-centered living. I owe a lot to Kimmel for that.

    I wanted to point out a few things:

    1. There's been almost a conditioning within some Christian circles that to read a secular book on parenting is somehow paramount to turning from God and his ways. We really have to fight against that type of guilt (whether it's coming from ourselves or others). God gives much common grace and wisdom to unbelievers sometimes. As Christians we should be clever and be open to pick up some of their wise techniques without espousing their worldview. “Plunder the Egyptians”

    2. You are blessed that the Lord gave you the wisdom to see these things now before you spent years raising children according to some method that ends up eclipsing the gospel in your family life.

    3. One of the things I say a lot to younger moms (only the ones that actually ask me) is: “Parent them the way God parents you” then I go on to give examples of what that would look like in certain situations.

    Well done, Wendy! 🙂 I'm glad for all the other resources mentioned also.

  62. Anonymous September 7, 2011 at 1:06 am #

    Read the only REAL Book, His Holy Word; build a relationship with Him who created both you and your children, and He will direct your parenting path! God is not about methods (those are the Pharisees), but God is relational; seek Him, find Him and know peace!

  63. Wendy September 7, 2011 at 1:11 am #

    Good point, Anonymous. We assume everybody is starting with the Word itself, but it needs to be emphasized again and again, which I didn't do in my post.

    Thanks, Luma, for your encouraging words!

  64. Jessica September 7, 2011 at 1:11 am #

    Love your blog, and so I was glad to read this post and your book suggestions. I would love to win this book!

  65. Wendy September 7, 2011 at 2:20 am #

    In regards to a covenant view of children, I'm trying to organize a coherent blog post that explains it, but it may take me some time as I am moving this week.

  66. Saralyn September 7, 2011 at 4:14 am #

    Amen, amen, amen, amen!

  67. Kathy September 7, 2011 at 4:36 am #

    Thanks for the ideas and book suggestions… we're ever struggling to balance grace and the consequences of disobedience in our family in a godly way.

  68. Anna September 7, 2011 at 11:45 pm #

    Thank you for this post. I think that your comment that some of the secular ideas on discipline are what you have found most helpful is true for me too. I had never heard that put into words before! Also, that things work for a time and then you need to move on.

    PS I'm in Australia too, so I won't be expecting a book either!

  69. Maria September 8, 2011 at 3:43 pm #

    I love your post, and I am going to share it on FB. Thank you for writing it so eloquently. 🙂

  70. dulce de leche September 8, 2011 at 4:30 pm #

    Biblical Parenting by Crystal Lutton is my absolute favorite. Another good one is The Complete Book of Christian Parenting and Child Care by the Sears.

  71. Montana Wildflower September 8, 2011 at 5:19 pm #

    Excellent and very true.

    I am the mom of 8, four of which are legal adults. I also have 2 preschoolers, so with a 12 year gap between my 5th an 6th, I'm starting over. (I also have a child who passed away 4 years ago, this is why the numbers don't really “work” but I always include him in my count. I just can't leave him out.)

    Anyway, yes, it is about principle and the fewer you have, the better. Over the years, I think mine have developed this way.

    1. Treat your children with kindness, the way your Heavenly Father treats you.

    2. Be steady, be firm and follow through.

    3. Admit your mistakes to your children when you have mistreated them and ask their forgiveness. Then move forward.

    4. Trust your instincts as a parent. God gave them to you for a reason. Kids don't come with manuals and you aren't supposed to know everything anyway. If you did, then how would you learn anything?

    5. It's not about you. Raising children with the fear that you don't want them growing up to be an axe murderer, is really more about what people would think about YOU than what is best for your kids. It's the wrong principle and the wrong focus. Focus on them, what's best for them, and don't pay too much attention as to what people will think of YOU. This is how the teachings of people like the Ezzos and the Pearls get a foothold.

    6. Child rearing is a journey. There are many many ways to get to the final destination and each one takes you to different places along the way. Even on the straightest roads, there are delays for road construction (character building), scenic tours(learning opportunities), potty breaks (physical needs and growth), detours (adapting and acclimating) and visiting relatives (creating and fostering relationships). Relax. You've got at least 18 years to get there….and you will. There's no big hurry. But it will go much faster than you realize and then it will seem that suddenly, you are at your destination and you'll wonder how it happened!

    Maybe your journey is like The Lord of the Rings or maybe it's like European Vacation. Either way, there are choices and situations that offer learning and growth and in the end, and if a lesson is missed at one point, you usually get another crack to learn it if you missed it the first time.

    And at the end, you find you have these amazing relationships where the bond was made stronger through by sticking together through it all. At the end, where your offspring ceases to be a child and has in front of your eyes, become an adult, ready to teach their own children, you realize that everything you worried about that you thought would have eternal significance, probably wasn't as big of a deal as you thought it was at the time.

    Whew, didn't mean to go on and on. Hope this is somewhat useful in any case.

  72. Anonymous September 8, 2011 at 6:24 pm #

    Loved this …”Paul Miller said in A Praying Life, I do my best parenting of all when I'm wrestling with God over the gospel for my children on my knees”

    I'm reading “Gospel Powered Parenting” by William Farley right now and just the first few chapter have been so helpful in understanding the implications of the Gospel on parenting.

  73. Andi September 9, 2011 at 12:00 am #

    One of my favorite “practical” (& secular) parenting books has been “Raising Your Spirited Child”. I found it be to be very grace-based & insightful- not only about my children, but about ME.

  74. Laura September 10, 2011 at 7:56 pm #

    I would love a copy of this book… thanks for entering me in the drawing!

    Laura
    the_peanut_patch at yahoo dot com

  75. Stephanie September 10, 2011 at 9:47 pm #

    I would love to win a copy – my husband and I were just married this summer and we are very excited about starting a family as the Lord provides.

  76. Kristie September 11, 2011 at 11:14 am #

    Thank you for this, and I also recently re-read your post on repenting to your children, so very helpful at a time when I really need it.

  77. Carolyn September 11, 2011 at 2:10 pm #

    I would love a copy of this book!

  78. rebecca @ altared spaces September 12, 2011 at 5:50 pm #

    I just found you while bumping around the web. Can I just say: breath of fresh air! I had some struggles in the Christian church because of people who were so busy following the letter of the law they forgot about that relationship piece.

    I believe you've found your motherhood best with this sentence: “His is much more about relationship than method.” Yes. God is more interested, I believe, in meeting each of us where we are and figuring out the dance. That's why there IS NO single method. And that's the beauty (and the bane) of parenting.

    It's what has carved out of me a mother. It's been a transformative ride and you've articulated a reason for it here today. Much gratitude.