Review: Parenting by God's Promises: How to Raise Children in the Covenant of Grace

Parenting by God's Promises: How to Raise Children in the Covenant of Grace
Parenting by God's Promises: How to Raise Children in the Covenant of Grace by Joel R. Beeke

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I seldom give five stars here. Except for Calvin, Luther.

That's the caliber of this book. It is on par or better than the other two best parenting books I recommend: Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp, and Standing on the Promises by Doug Wilson.

Beyond a couple quibbles about using KJV, and overusing "must," "should," and ought," this is an outstanding book on parenting.

It is content-rich without being overwhelming.
It is Biblically balanced in resting parenting upon the covenant of grace, and calling out comprehensively our duties in that covenant. Chapter 1 starts strong with application to parenting from Genesis 15, of all places.
Chapter 2 may daunt some readers, with its theological discussion of the covenant, but it's a very important one, and he nails it without getting caught up in contemporary controversy about it.

After this covenantal foundation is laid, Beeke considers parents as prophets (teaching and training), priests (intercession and sympathy) and kings (discipline), then a few practical chapters on training children in piety, listening, speaking and siblings. Last comes a section for teens, and also preparing children for marriage, and parenting adult children and relating to grandchildren.

There is often an optical illusion in parenting books. One sixth of this book addresses the covenant of gospel grace. The rest is our responsibilities as parents. Some assume that that quantity alone makes the book moralistic, but they are sadly mistaken. The exhortation to what we are to do covers a lot of ground, illustrates often, and is soaked with grace and sympathy.

Here are a couple samples, which Beeke goes on to apply to parenting children.

"The Puritans believed a husband and wife had equal authority in the eyes of their children, though a wife was expected to practice biblical submission to her husband (Eph. 5:22; Col 3:18; 1 Peter 3:1-6). They had an orderly protocol for making decisions. If a husband and wife disagreed on a matter, they would talk over the issue until they came to a mutually acceptable solution. In the rare case when agreement could not be reached, it was the wife's duty to submit to her husband's authority in the matter. Of course, at times a Puritan husband might defer to his wife's opinion, especially if he was persuaded by her reasoning or if she felt more strongly about a particular matter than he did... In other words, the fact that the Puritans advocated strong male leadership did not mean a Puritan husband could simply have it his way. A wise husband, out of respect for his wife's intelligence, good sense, and practical experience, frequently deferred to her. Husbands and wives worked together as a team - as they should today." (171-2)

"One of the biggest obstacles to effective listening is self-absorbed pride. Instead of tuning our ears to what others are telling us, we tend to think ahead to our responses. Our own thoughts usually trump what others say. We care too much about our own ideas, opinions, preferences, and problems to take genuine interest in someone else's" (195-196).

"Sometimes we load unnecessary guilt on parents by turning general rules into absolute requirements - this will always happen if you always do that. The verse that is cited most often to support this faulty thinking is Proverbs 22:6... this verse is a proverb, not a magic formula to guarantee successful parenting. Despite the best upbringing, a child may rebel against his parents..." (133).

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