Nearly 20 years after he promised to never write another book on parenting, Paul Tripp has once again entered the world of parenting—and his book is well worth your time. His book is centered on the type of parenting that brings lasting change. He writes in chapter four:
Here’s the bottom line for every parent: the change that has to happen in each of your children, you can’t create…This means that you and I have to be willing to let go of those old, human-power parenting habits. We have to stop with the loud voices, the escalating threats, the subtle name calling, words of condemnation, ever-worsening punishments, telling our children how much more righteous we are than they, the silent treatment, and withholding affection when they’ve upset us.
From the very outset, Tripp points to the sobering reality that all children belong to God and not to their parents. This foundational truth will enable parents to recognize their roles and responsibilities in the task of parenting from a gospel lens as opposed to a worldly approach. Only then will parenting be meaningful and God glorifying.
How many times have you witnessed parents who work hard at scaring their children into a certain type of behavior suitable to them? Maybe you’ve also witnessed the bribing mother who lures her children into an approved behavior through money or other material possessions. In either case, such parenting approaches the child in a wrong manner that will not bring God honoring change. Only through a direct parenting style that’s focused on the heart of the child will the parents see genuine change that honors God.
Tripp also points out the need for parents to value their children and to demonstrate that value by their investment of time. To show love to a child involves a real time investment that’s more than passing one another in the living room of your home. Tripp’s book on parenting is centered on a certain type of gospel centered discipleship. We are called to make disciples, and what better place to begin than in the home with the children entrusted to your care?
Tripp unfolds this discipleship model from the very beginning of the book as he makes a clear and powerful statement at the beginning of the first chapter. He writes, “Nothing is more important in your life than being one of God’s tools to form a human soul.” Tripp explains that your children’s capacity to worship is “the most important biblical insight for parents” (157).
I recommend this book as a resource for parents of all ages who desire to disciple, shepherd, and lead their children to Christ while raising them to be faithful parents in the future. Discipleship involves more than shouts and threats. It involves spiritual care and instruction that leads children to see their corruption in God’s law and their singular hope in Jesus Christ.
Paul David Tripp. Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2016. 224 pp. $22.99.