Taking a step back from the ‘do’s and don’ts’ of parenting, Harriet Connor explores the bigger picture of what the goal of raising our children is.
This is not an instruction manual, but rather an exposition on the Bible’s theology of parenting. Some of the areas the author explores are the purpose of life and parenting; our parenting in relation to the Fall; the values Christianity upholds, and passing those on to our children; and finally, having a look at the Christian family, both the family unit and the wider church family.
As a Christian parent, this book didn’t say anything particularly new and revolutionary; however, it was refreshing to read something that didn’t leave me with a giant to-do list and a sense of my shortcomings as a parent.
The people this book would appeal to most are new parents or newly converted parents looking for help in shaping their family life to reflect their Christian beliefs. The writing style is simple and assumes the reader knows little about Christianity, so it could be used for both Christians and non-Christians.
I appreciated the author’s assessment of why parenting has become so hard in the 21st century (chapter 8). We are essentially parenting on our own, whereas, in the past, raising children was a community affair, with the local support of other generations to learn from. This departure from traditional ways means we need to depend even more on the Bible’s wisdom to help us parent as God would have us do so.
To quote the book: ‘As parents we want to protect our children from feeling unhappy. But current research confirms what the Bible has been saying all along — that happiness makes a wonderful long-term by-product, but an impossible short-term goal…
‘Parenting is not about helping children to feel good, but to do the good that they were created to do. And ironically, doing this — giving children a sense of purpose and connection with God, creation and others — is actually the best way to help them find lasting happiness.’