Parenting against the tide
Star Rating: 5
This is an excellent handbook for parents. Ann Benton writes with a wealth of experience — as a parent, teacher and school governor. She also writes with a clear-sighted passion to help other parents in the awesome task of child-rearing in the twenty-first century.
As the title suggests, the author is aware that the Bible’s pattern for parenthood (which she helpfully unfolds) is at odds with much contemporary teaching. She confronts these issues head-on.
She challenges the arrogance of governmental policies that imply the state knows better than parents how to bring up children. She also ably refutes the myth of modern self-esteem philosophies and exposes the moral muddle created by relativism.
However, the book is more than an attack on unbiblical approaches to parenting. There are helpful chapters on delighting in our children and instilling obedience (using corrective discipline where necessary), and a useful discussion on gender distinction.
Other chapters address further areas where modern society presents a challenge to biblical parenting. These include issues concerning sex, social media, the internet and what the author calls ‘the perils of living in an affluent society’.
The question of how we teach our children the truths of Christianity is the subject of another chapter. We are encouraged to think about, talk about and teach God’s truth to our children. The suggestion that this is some sort of indoctrination is dismissed (in that no one is neutral in these matters).
A balanced and thoughtful discussion of home-schooling versus secular education is the topic of a further chapter. There are a number of useful points made, although in my view as a father of four who attended a Christian primary school and secular secondary school, the lack of consideration of the place of Christian schools limits the overall value of the discussion.
The penultimate chapter of the book challenges us as to whether we are aiming for the right things for our children.
The closing chapter offers encouragement in this difficult task, with Benton concluding: ‘The biggest mistake we can make in parenting is to think that we have everything sorted. Speak less to your kids and more to God. He is a better parent than you or me. To him alone be the glory’ (p.240). In short, I highly recommend this book.