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As a young mom, I would browse the parenting section of our local Christian bookstore only to become overwhelmed by all the choices. Brightly colored covers offered a new kid by the end of the week and tips on how to parent without going crazy. Other titles offered comfort with their claims to teach me how to be a calm and joy-filled mama. Some were written by experts and others were written by ordinary parents. Men, women, grandparents, teachers…they all were ready to share their advice. Quite often what had been meant to be a relaxing afternoon, away from the questions of my two-year-old and the cries of my newborn, turned into an exasperating outing. Still, I would buy one book at a time in hopes of finding answers to my questions from the trenches of motherhood.

As you can imagine, I have purchased many books over the past thirteen years in hope of learning to be a better mom and grow in my parenting wisdom. Some of those books left me very disappointed when I found their advice went against the Word of God. Others left me even more confused as I wondered how to balance training my children in obedience while at the same time demonstrating to them the grace of God.

I began to research each book before I bought or read it, and over time, I accumulated books that truly pointed me to God’s Word and how it applied to the changing of diapers and setting household rules. Soon, I had formed a list of parenting books that summed up the big picture while also giving practical application. I wish I could go back and read these books while I was still having babies and first establishing my role of motherhood. While I cannot do that, I rest in God’s grace of redeeming my mistakes and allowing me to point the young mothers of today towards Christ and books that will also point them to Him.

Over time, I accumulated books that truly pointed me to God’s Word and how it applied to the changing of diapers and setting household rules. Soon, I had formed a list of parenting books that summed up the big picture while also giving practical application. I wish I could go back and read these books while I was still having babies and first establishing my role of motherhood.

There are five books I want to share with you – each one complementing the others, but adding a different perspective. While you’re free to read them however you wish, I encourage you to read them in the order they are listed. I believe you’ll find them to be a beautiful blend of challenge and encouragement and I hope they will be good friends to you just as they have been to me.

Give Them Grace by Elyse Fitzpatrick & Jessica Thompson

I share this title first because I think it paints the biggest and broadest picture of all five in what it means to truly implement grace into your parenting. Elyse and Jessica walk through the foundational theology and some general application of what grace looks like in the role of parenting. I really appreciated how they broke obedience down into four categories: Initial, Social, Civic, and Religious. Understanding these four areas makes it easier to know how to cultivate obedience in our children. I struggled with such tension of feeling too legalistic or too gracious and this explanation relieved a lot of that stress.

Give Them Grace teaches you how to deal with the rebellious child, the compliant child, and your very own sinful heart that longs to just have the kids obey. It delves deeply into how the obedient child can often be more dangerous than the challenging child and points you to Christ dealing with both of them. I am sure it is a book that could be read over and over to continue the unpacking of its message and I heartily recommend reading a paperback copy of it with a pen in hand! If you struggle with a legalistic background and wanting to become more balanced, this is a must read.

“Religious obedience is probably the most difficult and dangerous form of obedience simply because it is so easily confused with conformity to God’s law.  It’s the place where most Christian families go terribly wrong.  Yes, we are commanded to teach the Word, prayer, and worship to our children, but their acquiescence to these things won’t save them.  Only the righteous life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ saves them.”
(Give Them Grace by Elyse Fitzpatrick & Jessica Thompson)

Glimpses of Grace by Gloria Furman

The tagline of this book is “Treasuring the Gospel in Your Home”. While this is not just a book on the role of mothers and parenting, it addresses so many topics that we mothers wrestle with on a daily basis and speaks truth into them. Gloria uses the first few chapters to give an overview of the gospel and then proceeds to write chapter after chapter on how it impacts those daily struggles. As you read Glimpses of Grace and take a good look at your own thinking and actions, I am confident you will see a change in the way you raise those little–or not so little–ones that God has placed in your life.

“We have so many good things in our lives – home, families, husband and children, friends, work, achievements, and gifts.  But if we think these things are god, or if we absolutely have to have these things in order to connect with God, then our heart has manufactured an idol.”
(Glimpses of Grace by Gloria Furman)

Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full by Gloria Furman

In this second book by Gloria Furman, you will be continuously reminded of the glorious gospel and its daily connection to your mundane parts of life. As a mother, it is so easy to become overwhelmed with the never-ending to-do list, the frustration of repeating the same phrases over and over again, and doing the same tasks again, and again, and yet again. Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full will draw your focus back to Christ and how He is enough for you right here, right now, wherever you are. Gloria will encourage you and show you how to look at life as a mom through the lens of eternity and let it form your every thought, word, and action.

“The gifts that God gives us serve this holy purpose – to direct our praise to the giver of those gifts.  If you enjoy the gift of your children and the gift of your motherhood, but your joy terminates in those gifts, then you’ve missed the point of the gifts.”
(Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full by Gloria Furman)

 Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full will draw your focus back to Christ and how He is enough for you right here, right now, wherever you are. Gloria will encourage you and show you how to look at life as a mom through the lens of eternity and let it form your every thought, word, and action.

Everyday Talk by John A. Younts

If by now you were still wondering if you are an imperfect parent or not, this will completely clarify that you are! However, it will also greatly encourage you, humble you, and fill you with a hope that through Christ you can point your children to God through the simplicity of your everyday talk. You may find Everyday Talk to be an even easier read than the ones already listed due to Yount’s casual, yet direct approach. He does not waste time trying to convince you of his ideas, but purposefully unpacks and applies Scripture to our daily challenges as parents.

I finished Everyday Talk with a clearer understanding of the daily issue that I face as a mother. My favorite chapters were 6 and 7, which deal with what I believe to be the most frustrating parts of parenting. I also appreciated his chapter on music which was short and got right to the heart of the matter rather than being an essay of someone’s personal opinion. I would sum up this book by asking one question: “Do I value God’s holiness enough to allow it to influence and direct my moment by moment parenting?”

The only caution I have concerning Everyday Talk is that Younts focuses a bit more on discipleship of children rather than the evangelism of children. I believe we need to be cautious in assuring a child of their salvation, rather allowing the Holy Spirit to comfort or convict. However, if you have already read the above three books I think you’ll quickly understand how to apply this all to your own family.

“Discipline without instruction will exasperate and lead to anger. Discipline and instruction is training without exasperating.”
(Everyday Talk by John A. Younts)

Don’t Make Me Count to Three by Ginger Hubbard

While this book is aimed at mothers of younger children, I believe it can be beneficial to moms at any stage. Ginger takes a very practical approach and makes the overwhelming task of teaching children obedience, very simple and understandable. She takes the reader to the Word of God and applies it to discipline – including the controversial topic of spanking. I appreciate how Ginger does not just talk about the principles but gives example after example of what it looks like to be applied to real life. While each one of these books I deem worthy to be read more than once, you may find yourself using this one like a reference book. Reading this will bring conviction to your heart, but it will also breath great encouragement to your weary soul!

“Discipline without instruction will exasperate and lead to anger. Discipline and instruction is training without exasperating.”
(Don’t Make Me Count to Three by Ginger Hubbard)

I would sum up "Everyday Talk" by John A. Younts by asking one question: “Do I value God’s holiness enough to allow it to influence and direct my moment by moment parenting?"

In closing, I want to remind you that these books are just tools.  They are written by imperfect humans just like you and I. God graciously allows others to be “iron sharpening iron” in our life as they point us to the Word of God and help us apply His truth to the various situations we encounter.

Do not substitute these reads for time reading God’s Word to us.  Don not pull out the wisdom of man and leave behind God’s wisdom.  Embrace these books as simply a group of friends walking with you towards Christ on the daily journey of motherhood.

Photography: JenniMarie Photography

2 Comments

  1. As someone who is in the thick of “young momming”, I so appreciate these suggestions. I’ve avoided a ton of parenting books because I felt like I would be overwhelmed by implementing everything (perfectionism speaker, here), but I know I need direction and encouragement. I love that many of these focus on grace.

    1. Oh Emily, yes, it’s so overwhelming to read books and try to implement their message. However, these are not really tip oriented, but heart oriented. They encourage your own change rather than focusing on changing your kids. Praying for you!

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