Give Them Jesus: Parenting With The Gospel -- By: Andrew David Naselli

Journal: Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Volume: JBMW 17:1 (Spring 2012)
Article: Give Them Jesus: Parenting With The Gospel
Author: Andrew David Naselli

Give Them Jesus: Parenting With The Gospel

A Review of Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson, Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus. Wheaton: Crossway, 2011.

Andrew David Naselli

Research Manager for D. A. Carson; Administrator of Themelios

Moore, South Carolina

Jennifer J. Naselli


Moore, South Carolina

We’re parents of two young children with a third on the way. Andy is the second of seven children, and Jenni is the first of three. We’re cautious about parenting books because they often end up being a craze that either accommodates our culture or pontificates about how a specific method is the one and only right way based largely on anecdotal evidence that it worked for them.

Give Them Grace?

To begin with, we weren’t sure what this book’s title means: Give Them Grace. Does that mean “Give them a break, and don’t discipline your children so much” or “Lighten up: chuck the rules, and let the kids do what they want”? The subtitle clarifies that it means, “Give your kids grace by dazzling them with the love of Jesus.” But what exactly does that look like?

Elyse Fitzpatrick and her daughter, Jessica Thompson, explain in the book that giving your children “grace” means to “explain again the beautiful story of Christ’s perfect keeping of [the law] for them” (36). “Give this grace to your children: tell them who they really are, tell them what they need to do, and then tell them to taste and see that the Lord is good” (50). “Give grace to your children today by speaking of sin and mercy” (73). The book could be titled Give Them the Gospel or Give Them Jesus.

Tracing The Argument

The burden of the book is that Jesus is everything and that the good news about Jesus should permeate the whole parenting process. Many Christian parents desperately want to rear good kids—kids who almost always obey immediately, completely, respectfully, and joyfully. They want kids who don’t embarrass them, who make them look good, who aren’t losers. And if that’s the goal, then the typical means to reach it often work. But that’s the wrong goal, argue Fitzpatrick and Thompson, and those typical means are often counterproductive to the right goal.

Here’s a one-sentence summary of each of the book’s ten chapters:

(1) From Sinai to Calvary: Parents should require initial, social, civic, and religious obedience from their children, and they should also give God’s law to them but only to drive them to Christ and give them grace.

(2) How to R...

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