First of all, stop what you’re doing now and go buy this book. If you’re a parent, you need to read this. If you’re not a parent but you’re a Christian, you need to read this. We need to be constantly reminded of the gospel and so I want you to stop reading this book review and go buy the book.
Ok, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let me say first of all that I appreciate the message in this book and the sincerity of the messengers. Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson, a Christian mother and daughter, did not write this book to give a method or set of steps to improving your child’s behavior. If you’re looking for Twenty Ways to Change your Kid in Twenty Days you are going to be sorely disappointed. In fact, if I had to summarize the book’s message in one sentence, it would be this: Believe the gospel and preach it to your kids.
So often as parents we just want our kids to behave—in my case, I just want quiet. We focus on encouraging good behaviors and punishing bad behaviors and, as the book points out, this kind of training is necessary and has its place. However, what most of us tend to do as parents is focus on doing good and not doing bad as a goal as if it’s the be all end all of existence. In contrast, the gospel tells us the exact opposite. The gospel tells us that we are lost, sinful, and wretched and could never do anything good enough, let alone good. The fires of hell will burn for all eternity all around many good, moral people who showed up on time for work, never talked back to authority, helped little old ladies across the street. If all we do is teach our kids to be good, or worse, to feign goodness when someone is looking, we have failed our children and failed God in the calling He has given us as parents.
Rather, as the authors point out, we should look at our children’s misbehavior and recognize our own sinful heart and open rebellion against our heavenly Father. Further, we should use those opportunities to encourage our kids to see their own sinful heart and remind them that their sin condemns them before God but that God loved us. Because God loved us, He sent a Savior, Someone to rescue us from our sin. This is not to say that we don’t discipline our children and correct them when they misbehave, but rather that we don’t just stop there. We need to preach the gospel to ourselves and our children and using their own sin to remind them of their need for a Savior is a great way to do just that.
In short, I would recommend this book to anyone for that very reason—these ladies explain the gospel clearly and remind the reader of the depths of human sin. They also explain effectively the dangers of moralism. Those are two lessons no Christian can hear too often.