During my pregnancy with our twin daughters, I was given a sweet book themed baby shower. As I slowly untied the bow and removed the outfits from one particular box, I was shocked to see a book for me beneath the frills. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love books, but I was used to receiving Goodnight Moon and Llama Llama Red Pajama. This gem, written for parents, was a great addition to the dozens of sweet books I received for our girls. And although I was incredibly appreciative that day, I had no clue that as I pulled Give Them Grace by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson out of the box, that I was being given the gift that would impact my parenting style the most.
When I first learned that I was pregnant with twins, I read countless books on how to get our babies to sleep, what to name them, how to feed them, and what I could expect during my pregnancy. A few years later when my sweet precious daughters turned into strong-willed toddlers (have mercy), I bought a slew of behavioral modification books, both Christian and secular. And I have to tell you, the book I keep returning to is the one that points me to Jesus while in the trenches, that wonderful baby shower gem.
Give them Grace, isn’t a parenting “how-to” book; instead it develops your framework for parenting as a believer. It functions as a grace-filled survival manual, and differs significantly from other parenting books in that rather than focusing on obedience, sleep habits, or how to fix behavioral issues, it equips you with a foundation full of grace that comes from knowing the gospel (which the authors refer to as “the good story” throughout the book).
According to Fitzpatrick and Thompson, the primary theme of our parenting isn’t to raise good kids who contribute to society and our churches; rather Jesus Christ and the work He’s already done is our primary theme. One of the most convicting moments for me was when they encouraged the reader to evaluate the percentage of time spent on declaring the rules in comparison to the percentage of time spent rehearsing the good story. When I sat down and realized how little my parenting had to do with the good story, I was so disappointed with myself! Yet Fitzpatrick and Thompson don’t leave the reader in despair. That same grace that we display to our children, is rooted in a realization that we the parents need it too! And praise God for the good story and His grace!!
Another useful characteristic about this book is that although it does cover a vast amount of content (e.g. types of obedience, categories of parenting, prayer, discipline, rehearsing the story, and so much more), it has a very practical side as well. For example, Thompson gives multiple real-life scenarios in which you can see a concept brought to life. Although, yes, some of these examples can be cheesy, they are still extremely helpful! The point of the examples is not that we are given a script, but that we are equipped with fully understanding grace-filled concepts and how they can play out in our daily lives. You won’t find a twelve-step process or specific lines to use, but you will be given a framework for allowing grace to transform our hearts so deeply that it changes how we love and shape our children.
My favorite pages in the book can be found in the appendixes, which is saying a lot because I can’t rave enough about the content in the chapters! After having read the book multiple times, I love picking it back up and looking at the appendixes when I need a quick refresher on grace-filled parenting. These pages are rich with tools that help reinforce the concepts learned in the book. There is a brief written rehearsal of the good story which can be read aloud to your kids (and adults too!). And there are pages with charts depicting eight common problems that are evaluated in light of parenting categories explained in chapter five.
This book is a breath of fresh air and has become a staple baby gift in our family. And when confused new moms look at me like I’m a crazy person for giving them a parenting book that has little to do with eating or sleeping, I just smile. Because although many of the situations described in the book will feel like they’re YEARS away, time will fly and in a blink of an eye they’ll be cracking open these pages to build the foundation of a grace-filled parenting.
To anyone with children or anyone who works closely with children, this book needs to be on your shelves. And to the tired mama in the trenches, read this book and be refreshed!
Blessings on your grace-filled parenting endeavors!