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Product details

  • Paperback: 1 pages
  • Publisher: Crossway Books (1 May 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1433520095
  • ISBN-13: 978-1433520099
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 14.2 x 1.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 347,379 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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How are parents to raise children so they don't become Pharisees (legalists) or prodigals (rebels)? It's all about grace-filled, gospel-driven parenting, says the mother/daughter team of Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson. Christian parents, in their desire to raise godly children, can drift toward rule-centered discipline. There is, however, a far more effective method-a grace-motivated approach that begins with the glorious truth of God's love for sinners. In Give Them Grace, parents will learn how to connect the benefits of the cross-especially regeneration, adoption, and justification-to their children's daily lives. Chapters address topics such as our inability to follow the law perfectly, God's forgiveness and love displayed at the cross, and what true heart obedience looks like. Fitzpatrick and Thompson also discuss discipline, dealing with popular culture, and evangelism as a way of life. Parents will find this book a great resource for raising grace-filled, Jesus-loving kids.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book! 29 May 2013
By Bookman
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Very good gospel centred book on raising children, though I had read Ted Tripp’s books before and think I got more out of it. I think they should be read together.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Give them grace 4 Nov 2013
By MBoyce
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I was looking for a parenting book with Biblical grace based premises. I chose the book based on a title. However, as I read the book it's very apparent that grace is very much a theory and not yet part of the authors life. Almost as if Christ had NOT PAID ALL our sin on the cross and grace was given as a reward for good behaviour. I gave two stars as there are few good points but premiss is not grace where God deals with us as his children and disciplines us but not out of wrath. Also the author holds the view that unsaved person is not capable for any good deeds if God was not helping us. Humanists are extremely good people even though our human goodness is not an acceptable offering before God. So this is not well explained view among many other statements. I gave this book to someone else and they were discouraged even from first few pages. Grace based parenting by Tim Kimmel gives balanced view of Christian parenting.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.3 out of 5 stars  160 reviews
312 of 320 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Many Strengths, Several Weaknesses 16 July 2011
By E. Hankins - Published on
Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson explain what makes Christian parenting unique: it isn't merely about turning out "good" kids; it's about pointing all of our kids to the Savior. While rules are a necessary part of parenting, Elyse and Jessica say, they aren't the primary theme, the work of Christ is. The law doesn't transform the heart...It only hardens them in pride (because they're successfully obeying it) or despair (because they aren't pg. 68).

One of the strengths of Give Them Grace is that it not only encourages the parent to give grace to his/her children, but it also gives a good measure of grace to the parent. Here are a few quotes to whet your appetite:

We must trust in His "ability to transform hearts, not in our ability to be consistent or faithful...Freedom to love and enjoy our children flows out of the knowledge that God saves them in spite of our best efforts, not because of them. Salvation of the Lord" (pg. 53).

It's not up to me; it's a work of God. "When we're quietly resting in grace, we'll have grace to give our children, too. When we're freed from the ultimate responsibility of being their savior, we'll find our parenting burden becoming easy and light" (pg. 55).

Elyse and Jessica touch briefly on idolatry and unbelief as it pertains to parenting:

"We have far too high a view of our ability to shape our children and far too low a view of God's love and trustworthiness. So we multiply techniques and try to control the outcome" (pg. 57).

In Give Them Grace, Elyse and Jessica also make much of God. This book is encouraging, Gospel-centered, and grace-filled through and through.

In spite of all of the strengths of this book, I do have a few reservations.

1.) The authors don't make children apologize unless they are truly sorry (pg. 67, 101, 104) lest they be hypocritical.

"If we encourage our children to ask for forgiveness when their hearts haven't been stricken by the rod of the Holy Spirit's conviction, we are training them to be hypocritical. We are inadvertently teaching them that false professions of sorrow will satisfy God. God is never pleased with outward proclamations of devotions when the heart is far from him (Isa. 29:13; Matt. 15:7-9); in fact, he hates it. The truth is that we can never know with any certainty whether proclamations of repentance are true, because only God knows the heart (Jer. 17:5)...Rather than insisting on an immediate show of repentance, you should give your children time to respond to the prompting of the Holy Spirit" (pg. 104).

Although this looks good at face value, I could easily use this same logic to say that my children need not obey, attend church, sing praises to God, etc. unless they truly desired to, however, I don't think that this should be the case at all. John Piper has a very helpful article on this subject: "Why Require Unregenerate Children to Act Like They're Good?" @[...]

2.) The authors repeatedly assert that obedience results from a heart of gratitude for all that God has done for us in Christ without providing any Scripture references to support this notion (ex. pg. 48, 54, 83, 106, 108).

Again, I have found Biblical teaching from John Piper helpful on this subject. It has been a few years since I have looked over that material, but I need to review it again. An initial article that might help one begin to consider this topic is: "Is Gratitude A Bad Motivation for Obeying God?" @ [...]

3.) The authors make an unhelpful distinction between regenerate and unregenerate children (ex. pg. 48). A "Chart of Common Problems and the Gospel" includes suggested conversation for the child who isn't a Christian and the one who is.

Dan Cason articulates this concern quite nicely in his review for Westminster:

"I found the attempt to separate children into "regenerate" (Christian) and "unregenerate" (non-Christian) categories somewhat confusing. Presumably you determine what category your child is in based on his or her public profession of faith. They believe that, until you're able to discern that your child is a Christian, you cannot expect her or him to obey. Thus, you should only present the gospel."

This brings us back to reservation number one. ;)

I am still weighing the above matters and have not had sufficient time to ponder them in-depth. As a result, my thoughts are not well-articulated and severely lacking. However, my review is due, so I've treated the matters as carefully as I can at this time. I hope the links will help you to begin to study these matters for yourself.

Overall, Give Them Grace is an encouraging and thought-provoking read. I am still processing much of the material. While there is much to commend, there is also much to ponder and carefully weigh. I don't agree with others who have said that it is THE BEST parenting book, but God has used it as a means of grace to me and for that I am grateful.

*Many thanks to Crossway for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion!
94 of 99 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Written by Imperfect Parents to Imperfect Parents 27 May 2011
By John A. Bird - Published on
In the forward to Give Them Grace by Elyse M. Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson, Tullian Tchividjian says it's "the best parenting book [he's] ever read, because it takes the radical, untamable, outrageous nature of the gospel seriously and applies it to parenting." And the authors do take the gospel seriously. The difference between their book and other Christian parenting books, they say, is that theirs emphasizes grace rather than law:

"Most of us are painfully aware that we're not perfect parents. We're also deeply grieved that we don't have perfect kids. But the remedy to our mutual imperfection isn't more law, even if it seems to produce tidy or polite children."

These two experienced mothers don't pretend that they are perfect, that their children are perfect, or that they have the secret key to perfection. They don't give readers a formula for parenting; there are no "three steps," or even specified rod dimensions (though they do say that an open hand is okay, regardless of what other parenting books have said). Instead, they remind us that it is God, and not parents, who determines a child's destiny in this life and the next, and that we need His grace as much as our children do. They also give lots of encouragement to weary, imperfect parents:

"[God] doesn't treat his dear children as `disappointments' whose disobedience and failures take him by surprise or shock him. He does not suspend his love until they get their acts back together. He already knows the worst about you (in yourself) and loves and approves you nonetheless (in Christ)."

If applying the gospel can be overdone, these authors do it proudly: "We've encouraged you to dazzle [your children] with the message of Christ's love and welcome, and then when you think that surely they must be tiring of it, go back and drench them with it again."

The only problem with this is that when we apply the gospel to every event in life, and especially when we use it to correct, children will tire of it. Not every moment needs to be a "teachable moment." Do we need to bring up Jesus' agony on the cross every time our child acts like a child?

The authors give an example of how we might apply the gospel to a child who pouts after losing a baseball game: "Yes, losing is difficult....Jesus Christ understands losing because he lost relationship with his father on the cross....He's using this suffering in your life to make us both look up and see his love."

Besides the superficial view of suffering in the above quote, this loose way of applying the gospel, especially when often repeated, takes the power out of the message and can weary the children. Something sadder than a child growing up never hearing the good news is a child who grows up hoping to never hear it again.

Besides overdoing the application of the gospel, the authors are also guilty, like the authors of many of our Christian books and blogs, of overwriting. Some of their words have become so popular (peruse, enjoin, facets, eventuate), that I expect to see them in half the Christian books I read, though I've never heard them in real conversation. Add a few phrases like, "radical message of grace," "soul-satisfying repast of grace," and "construct a methodology," with extra doses of drama and intellectualisms, and an over-all good message becomes unpalatable to readers who prefer a simpler style.

Still, the most important things to be said about this book are that it leaves room for failure, emphasizes the superiority of the gospel over the law, and is primarily about imperfect parents glorifying a perfect God (rather than themselves or their children). These things put Give Them Grace above many other Christian parenting books.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Crossway in exchange for an honest review.
42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I Wish Give Them Grace Had Been Published 20 Years Ago... 6 July 2011
By TulipGirl - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is the book I wish had been published twenty years ago.

I've made plenty of mistakes as a mother, and I know I'll make plenty more. Yet each year the Lord seems to help me see more clearly my need for the grace of the Gospel in my life and in my parenting. I've discussed with friends, with my pastor, at church potlucks, "What does it look like to reflect the Gospel in our parenting relationships?"

Increasingly these discussion of the Gospel and grace in parenting are taking place among moms in playgroups, in churches, on blogs.

But very few books have been published that really address this question in a fundamental way; very few books to pass along to friends and to say, "Hey, this really encouraged me to look to the grace of the Gospel as a mom."

Enter Elyse Fitzpatrick and her daughter Jessica. (What a perk, writing as a team! One with the wisdom of experience, one with the fresh "this is what it feels like in the trenches" perspective.)

Key points that I really like about this book:

* Give them Grace differentiates between moralism and the Gospel: "Mormons, Muslims, and moralistic atheists all share the belief that law can perfect us, but Christians don't. Christians know that the law can't save us; what we need is a Savior."

* It warns against formula parenting: "Giving grace to our children is not another formula that guarantees their salvation or obedience. Grace-parenting is not another law for you to master to perfect your parenting or your children."

* It encourages going back to the what Christ has done (and often quotes one of my favorite books, The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name), "please stop for a moment and ask yourself what percentage of your time is spent in declaring the rules and what percentage in reciting the Story."

* It keeps reaffirming the centrality of the Gospel in all of Scripture, in all of life, "Parenting methods that assume or ignore the gospel are not Christian. The gospel must hold the center in all we think, do, and say with our kids."

* It reminds us that we, as parents, need the Gospel, too: "In our hearts we know that's true because the law hasn't made us good, either, has it?"

* The questions for reflection at the end of each chapter really ARE good for reflection, not just "learn the answer, fill in the blanks".

* Appendix Two: Common Problems and the Gospel. This is an excellent resource for helping parents re-frame their thinking and answer "What does it look like to reflect the Gospel in our parenting relationships?" Of course, considering the chart format, parents could slip into formulaic parenting... I think we all have that tendency. But it is more valuable as a resource than a harm, in my opinion.

That said, thit isn't quite the book that I hoped it would be. There are two main concerns that I have.

* I really wish this book had addressed children in the Covenant, and the theological implications of that. While I understand that this discussion would change the book and change the target audience, I had hoped this would have been at least discussed in part. Some of the sample conversations in the book between parent and child would have likely been a bit different had aspects of covenant theology been included.

* "Give them Grace" seems to lose sight of the fullness of what Christ has done when discussing punishment. I am disturbed by this sample conversation, "I am sad that I have to cause you pain. I know that you are sad too. I pray that you will understand that disobedience always causes pain. In fact, our disobedience caused the pain that Jesus felt on the cross, even though he had always perfectly obeyed and didn't deserve to be punished."

In effect, this sample conversation nullifies the punishment Christ bore on the cross for our sins and our children's sins. It is communicating to the child, "even though Jesus paid for your sins, it wasn't enough and you must be punished as well". This seems to undermine the overarching theme of the book. "I have to cause you pain. . ." even though Jesus already took the punishment for your sin?

This isn't a "to spank or not to spank" question, please don't misunderstand me. Christians of good conscience and careful study of the Bible parent both with spanking and without spanking.

The issue is a theological one of equating the punishment of a child with the punishment of Christ, and communicating to the child that they MUST be punished -- undermining how we communicate Christ's full punishment for us. . . even for their little childish sins.

In spite of these two concerns, I do give this book 5-stars and recommend it to Christian parents.

I remember some of the first parenting books I read, pulling them off the shelf when I was babysitting, reading them after the kids were in bed. Sadly, these Christian parenting books were devoid of the Gospel. It framed the parenting relationship for me in a way that led me to lose track of what was really important as a mother.

Through the years that has changed. "This is why you need Jesus, this is why Mommy needs Jesus. . ." these are the conversations I've been having with my children. . . slowly, growing to this place of giving my children the Gospel of grace. . . imperfectly.

If only this book had been on the shelf 20 years ago. . .
42 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Is Raising "Good Kids" the Point? 23 May 2011
By Greg A. Wilson - Published on
Elyse Fitzpatrick would answer "no" and so would I. In her latest book from Crossway, written with the help of her daughter Jessica Thompson (also a mom), Fitzpatrick argues convincingly that, "Christian children (and their parents) don't need to learn to be 'nice,' They need death and resurrection and a Savior who has gone before them as a faithful high priest, who was a child himself, and who lived and died perfectly in their place." In Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus, Fitzpatrick, a highly respected author and biblical counselor, confesses that she, like many of us, often employed the "Oh, yes, you will - or else!" approach to parenting when Jessica was a child. Granting that "initial, social, civic and religious" obedience is absolutely necessary to impart to our children, the authors are clear that obedience and law-keeping morality are not the goal of parenting that intends to be distinctively Christian. "If not rooted in gratitude for God's love for us in Christ," say the authors, "morality is deadlier to the soul than immorality." Instead of, "Oh, yes, you will - or else!", Fitzpatrick and Thompson devote Give Them Grace to unpacking a paradigm more deeply rooted in gospel truth, something more akin to, "You're right, you can't. Not without a Rescuer."

I've spent most of my adult life in youth ministry, discipling and counseling teenagers and their parents, but was a relative latecomer to the world of marriage and parenting. For many years I, like Fitzpatrick, would have to confess to teaching more morality than gospel, more law than grace. Although I believed the gospel and taught the gospel, I taught it more as something that one receives and believes and then moves beyond - to faithfulness and obedience. I had not yet grasped the fact that there is no moving beyond the gospel. I did not yet see that the minute we try to move beyond the gospel, we fall right back into legalism and negate the gospel. As Paul said to the Galatians, "Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?" (Galatians 3:3) What I didn't see when I would encourage a teenager in my youth group by saying something like, "you're a great kid," was how devoid of the gospel my well-intentioned encouragement was. I squandered many opportunities to tell those kids, "You're right. You are a mess and so am I. Let's pray right now and thank God that Jesus died for messes like us and then ask him to help us love Jesus better and follow Him more closely." It wasn't until I became a parent myself (at age 40), that the Lord began to show me my daily need for the gospel of grace in order to have any hope of living out it's beautiful implications.

Every Christian parent who desires to raise their children with gospel intentionality must read this book. Give Them Grace is saturated in the truths that salvation is of the Lord, the gospel is for sinners, we are all hopelessly incapable parents, and we serve a Savior for whom nothing is impossible. These are the truths that we must pray over ourselves and our children if we want to see their hearts transformed. If you are a parent, or interact with children or teenagers on any level, please read this book and give them grace!
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Much Needed Refreshment 8 July 2011
By Michael Leake - Published on
I agreed to review Give Them Grace for Crossway primarily because I feel exhausted in my parenting. It sounded like a much needed refreshment. But it also sounded like something to give me a few "how-to's" on applying grace in the lives of my children.

What is ironic is that I really want is not a book that is saturated in the gospel but one that is saturated with a list of rules for successful gospel parenting. How horrible that I have somehow turned gospel-centrality into a law or an idol that I bow to!

Because of this stupid obsession with getting a list of parenting tools to jam into my already bursting fanny-pack of Christian parenting tips, I felt a tad frustrated in the beginning of this book. It was a breath of fresh air but I didn't want a simple, "chill out, God is in control". I wanted simple answers that would put me in control of my children's fate.

Give Them Grace is not your typical parenting book. In fact it actually identifies what is wrong with many "Christian" parenting books. Most parents that read Christian parenting books do so with this mindset:

Their love for their children coupled with fear makes them want a guaranteed method of handling every situation with complete certainty. They are serious about being godly parents, and they really don't want to give themselves a pass if resting in grace somehow means that they aren't holding up their part of the bargain. They need grace to believe that there is no bargain, because if there were, they would never be able to uphold their part of it no matter how hard they try. No bargains, no meritorious works, just grace. Remember, parenting is not a covenant of works. (159)

Sadly, many books are quick to offer exactly what a desperate parent desires; namely, how to control their children.

Well, What DO I Do?

If I abandon the "carrot and the stick" parenting method (you know motivating through rewards and punishments) then what do I do as a parent? Fitzpatrick and Thompson, I believe, offer a simple answer: get grace yourself and extend it to your kids. This book is an attempt to encourage parents to draw deeply from the well of grace themselves and then as the gospel-saturates their hearts and lives they will be in a much better position to instruct their children in the gospel.

This echoes advice that I received from a professor in seminary. His children were already grown and out of the home. He was confessing to our class much of his "failed" parenting and how he regretted much of what he had done. He shared with us the one thing he wishes he would have done as a Christian parent. Ready for it?......Just chill out. Rest in Grace; that was his advice.

And it is this nugget of advice where this book really shines. As a parent I found much refreshment from this book. I was frustrated that it did not give me 10 simple steps of how to control my children for Jesus. But at the end of the day I am refreshed and reminded of the beauty of the gospel and the mercy of God in making me a dad. My children do not need me to beat them over the head with the gospel--what they really need is for me to get the gospel and let it overflow into their lives. I need to chill out. I need to rest in grace and enjoy myself--and hopefully in the process my children will catch on to the beauties of grace.

One Negative

The authors are very quick to point out that their suggested dialogue in the book is just that--suggested dialogue. But as I read through many of these I began feeling the weight of "saying it right" that is in many of the other parenting books. In my opinion the others are guilty of trying to make every moment a teachable moment and actually not living in the grace that they are speaking of throughout the book.

I had a real problem with this in the second chapter on "how to raise good kids". I absolutely agree with the underlying theology of this chapter. I do believe that so much of our parenting is an attempt to raise good little Pharisee and not Jesus-loving sinners. But I would have a hard time parroting some of their dialogue with my children:

"Rather than telling Rebekah that she's a good girl, we could say, "I noticed you shared your swing. Do you know what that reminds me of? How Christ shared his life with us. I'm so thankful for God's working in your life that way. I know that neither of us would ever do anything kind if God wasn't helping us. I'm so thankful." (42)

I get the intent behind this statement. But I am not certain that it is really necessary to speak in such a way. For one it does not do justice to the imago Dei. Yes, ultimately we must push our affirmation of others upwards to reach its true origin--the goodness and grace of our Creator. But there is a way of praising creation that echoes in praise to the Maker without explicitly debasing the creature.

Honestly, the greatest danger will be for people like me that pick this book up looking for 10 ways to control your children with grace, try to follow the verbiage to a tee, and miss the overall message of the book.

The overall message of this book is a much needed refreshment. I need to be reminded that the gospel is for parents too. I also need to be reminded that my children's salvation is dependant upon the God of grace and not my parenting. Yes, I want to parent to the glorify of God--but the way that happens is by drawing deeply from the well of grace.

I would encourage all parents to read this book. In fact I would almost encourage parents to get this book and stop reading so many other ones. Chill out and rest in grace. This book will, for the most part, help you to do just that.
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