This is the third volume of a three volume series and focuses on the responsibilities of both parents and children. It is subtitled ‘a holy vision for raising children’. It is an edited and modernised edition of a book originally written by the Puritan, William Gouge (1578-1653).
This book is worth reading, it has insights and applications which modern parenting books do not have and is thoroughly Scriptural. It is not just a book of ideas based on general Biblical principles but the teaching is regularly backed up by Bible references. Five chapters focus on child responsibilities. Chapters include…’Children Showing Respect for their Parents’ and ‘Children Giving Back to Parents’. The other five chapters focus to Parents responsibilities to their children. Chapters include… ‘Parents Loving, Praying and Providing for children’ and ‘Parents directing their children into adulthood’. It gets the right balance between parents and children duties and therefore stands against today’s child centred age.
The book helpfully has subheadings, lists and points and sometimes questions and answers. You will need to focus and avoid distractions if you are to take everything in. There are too many useful points to mention but they include: a section on parents weaknesses, the things contrary to love, a balance between indulging and nurturing, the need to make a will and a helpful recognition of the limitation of a child’s obedience as it must be consistent with obedience to God.
For all its plusses there are some weaknesses. Overall I think the book needed more updating and some parts relating to the author’s time could have been omitted. While having useful parts, I think the section on parental consent for marriage goes too far in putting the onus on the parents to provide a marriage partner. The section on parents correcting and admonishing their children is a balanced treatment of Biblical teaching but some interaction with current laws (mostly limited smacking) or a footnote regarding restrictions on corporal punishment would be more helpful. Infant baptism is the position of both the original author and the publisher and there are quite a few pages written on this which comes across as very dogmatic. I don’t think an updated edition of this book needed to go through this reasoning in such detail. For those of us who disagree it would be helpful to have some acknowledgment of the value of praying for and committing a young child and parents to the fellowship of the church.
Overall a good Bible centred book which helps counter the prevailing liberal attitudes to parenting.