One of the most frequent requests I get is a for a list of parenting books.
In some regards, this is a tough question simply because there are so many good books out there that have impacted my life personally and my perspective on my responsibility, role, and high calling as a mother! It is hard for me to exercise self-control in only mentioning a few, but I don’t want to overwhelm you.
I’ve decided to share my favorite books on parenting season by season. In this post, I will share the must reads for Christian parents and in the next post, I will share my favorites for parenting older children and youth.
Before I share my top eight Christian parenting books with you, I want to challenge you with just how vital it is that we remain humble-hearted in our leadership within our homes. What I mean is, as we read there will be things we are convicted on for sure and we all need to be honest and introspective with ourselves so that we can grow.
We need to ask God to cultivate teachable hearts in each of us.
One aspect of this parenting journey is the sanctification we undergo. Learning to trust Jesus and His will for our children, not succumbing to parental-peer-pressure, admitting when we are just plain wrong or when we sin and asking for forgiveness are all examples of different refining moments and lessons we get to experience as parents. There could potentially be some form of sanctification or refinement in every aspect and season of parenting, but we need to ask and desire for God to show us and teach us. So as you grab a book or two to read with your spouse, or alone, keep a teachable heart.
I don’t know about you, but I didn’t know the first thing about mothering or homemaking when I first became a mom. I was a young 20 years old newlywed when I found out we were expecting our daughter 17 years ago! My husband and I mutually agreed that neither of us knew what we were doing, so each season, each step of the way we looked to virtual and in-real-life mentors to advise and instruct us.
I am thankful that I didn’t know the first thing about raising a family because it wasn’t hard for me to admit and that truth was my motivation to learn. So instead of pretending like I knew what I was doing, I read like crazy while in the first eight years of my marriage, and I can say that it has made a HUGE impact on my marriage, my family, and the legacy that we are leaving.
I am who I am largely because I remained teachable versus having a know it all attitude and learned from those who had gone before me, who had the fruit that I desired.
Here are my eight most appreciated books on parenting.
- Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp & Handbook
- Sacred Parenting by Gary Thomas
- Gospel-Powered Parenting by William Farley
- Grace Based Parenting by Dr. Tim Kimmel
- Give Them Grace by Fitzpatrick & Thompson
- Don’t Make Me Count to Three by Ginger Plowman & Wise Words for Moms
- Teach them Diligently by Lou Priolo
There are MANY more I would highly recommend, but these books, if filtered through the Word of God and used to stimulate learning through the Bible, they are by far the best of the best for the beginning years of parenting.
I am pretty sure this was the third parenting book I read as a new mom, the first two being Dobson’s The Strong-Willed Child and the Baby Wise Series. Shepherding a Child’s Heart is my all time favorite, most highly recommended parenting book for parents. I think I have re-read this book at least five times over the last 15 years in addition to having attended and led workshops and studies through it. Mr. Tripp keeps the most important thing, our child’s heart, at the forefront of this biblically based parenting guide. He was the first I had read who put emphasis on recognizing that we don’t want to raise well-behaved children who don’t love Jesus. Rather our concern should be directed at the condition of our child’s heart. What does this look like? Read this book and find out.
This book is just beautiful, but so completely different from Shepherding a Child’s Heart. It is the book that reveals how God cares about our character as a parent and how He uses parenthood, motherhood, to refine us. I recommend this for any parent regardless of the season of parenting you are in. Gary made us aware of how theology is lived and breathed through parenthood.
This book caught me by surprise as I felt the presence of humility in his words. One of the reasons why I recommend this books is simply because of the heart attitude I sense in the leadership of this author. “My wife and I don’t write this book because we have it all together. As do all parents, we have learned from God’s gracious discipline that we are dependent on God’s Spirit to complete the parenting process. We have one job–faithfulness. It is God’s job to bring the results.” I believe as a parent, we each have responsibility concerning raising our children in the way they should go and that we will be held accountable by God for leading or not leading our children. HOWEVER, I also believe that we are only responsible for obeying God, it is the work of the Holy Spirit to move and call our child’s heart. God may use me as His ambassador in my child’s life, but I am not their personal Holy Spirit. Farley examines and exposes assumptions that invade our view of the role of parent and how that negatively impacts us in being obedient to God.
This book is busting at the seams with great truths and insightful examples of scenarios we should all examine in our homes. There are a few things that ring true for Grace-based homes according to author Dr. Tim Kimmel. 1.) Grace based homes allow kids to be individuals, to be different and unique. 2.) Grace based homes allow kids to be vulnerable, to share what is truly going on in their minds and hearts. I love both of these truths SO much. Within our family, we have seven children and all are unique and different. We constantly try to teach them not to compare or compete with one another but value one another’s differences as unique qualities given for the edification of the whole family (much like the Body of Christ). Our family is, after all, an image bearer of the Body of Christ! The other thing we have always striven for is for our kids to feel loved and safe enough to respectfully disagree and be vulnerable about their struggles, doubts, fears, and even disbeliefs about God or otherwise. This has taken intentionality to create in our home, but I believe that it is one of the most important messages your kids could ever remember: that there is nothing they could ever do or not do to make you love them any less or more.
I just love the tagline of this book, Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus! The first word that comes to my mind is application, application, application. Fitzpatrick and Thompson have given us example after example of how scripture applies to parenting. I especially appreciated the object lesson ideas used to teach children in a way that will make sense to them. Another observation was that the questions the authors ask parents to reflect on in this books are thought provoking and challenging. “Does my child understand that loving Christian brothers and keeping them from temptation is the fruit of Jesus’ work in her heart?” Or “How can you now partner with your child in the gospel?”
This little book by Ginger Plowman is a fantastic look at heart-oriented discipline. How many times have you heard a parent cry out 1, 2, 333333333333? I’m not going to lie; I tried a couple of times with our oldest until I got my hands on this message. I realized that the biggest flaw in it, as she mentions, is that all we are doing is training our children to wait to obey us until we count to three instead of teaching them to obey the first time. And in that midst of counting, what happens to the blood pressure of the parent? I am sure you have either witnessed it or experienced; the counting gets louder, more intense or even angry. I don’t want to tempt myself to discipline in anger; that is NOT ok. I realized that counting wasn’t giving me time to think through how to deal with my child but rather creating unnecessary frustration as my child still continued to disobey.
Ginger also has a beautiful handbook called Wise Words for Moms, which I highly recommend and have given to many young moms to place on the inside of a kitchen cupboard on tape onto their fridge. It is laid out like a calendar and designed to aid you in using the Scriptures to drive out the foolishness that is bound up in the heart of [your] child (Proverbs 22:15). It is a tool for your personal research of the Bible for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training your children in righteousness. It’s only $4 on Amazon, but invaluable.
I value this book by Lou Priolo because, like Wise Words for Moms, it is focused on using Scriptures and their sufficiency in child training and teaching! Have you ever had a talk with one of your kids and thought of the perfect verse to use to make the point clear? This book is full of this kind of insight. He teaches us how to define words like conviction, confession, repentance, forgiveness, and more in terms that our children will understand and with Scripture so that we remain biblical! Another great book to read through over and over again.
Well friends, there you have it, my first book list for parents.
We just love you and want to raise our family to love you and seek you with our whole hearts, minds, and strength. Would you guide us and teach us through the wisdom of Your Word in the Scriptures and affirm and confirm what we believe You to be telling us as we read these books. Help us to look to You alone for leadership and guidance, but be wise with teachable hearts willing to learn from those who have gone before us as your word says in Titus 2 & 3. Thank you for what you have done in these authors hearts and the sacrifices they have made to write out these experiences and truths for us to glean and learn from. May you bless them for their obedience to You. Amen.
What are your favorite biblical parenting books and why?
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