"How is Christ being formed in you, individually, and in us as a family?"
That simple question shines like a beacon of light through of the fog of parenting philosophies.
If asked, many people would say that parenting is harder today than ever before, and there are myriads of voices shouting "solutions" all around us.
I've read a good selection of family-living books myself, and it's a rare one that grounds all its insights in the revelations of the Gospel.
This one does.
Now, as the cover states, this book begins by describing six dysfunctional parenting styles.
This is not a book preoccupied with teaching you how to spot and stomp out dysfunction.
Instead, Michelle Anthony says that when you choose anything less than God, you're choose dysfunction by default.
And the way to break the patterns- of control or lack thereof, shame, fear, anger, manipulation- is to absorb and spread the truth, grace, and love of God.
The majority of this book actually focuses on the character of God, the way He works with us and in us, and what that means for the way we live with our family.
Building a legacy, changing the atmosphere of our homes, swapping dysfunction for health, that can't be done in our own strength or with human ideas alone. God must teach us, lead us, equip us.
My three favorite chapters were.....
"A Time to Bless."
Openly recognizing God's work in your child, affirming their value as a person, and pointing to their vibrant future.... that has such power.
All it requires are a simple words, spoken from a heart that tunes in to what your child needs to hear.
"Living a Meaningful Family Mission."
This chapter asks that we look to God, look at our world, look into our family, and decide how we want to live in the time we have together.
A mission statement, sincere and intentional, lived out in daily actions, would become a touchstone for the family's growth.
"Beyond Good Behavior."
Picture this: A haggard Mom with a rude toddler and a withdrawn seven year old.
Now this: A quiet, respectful, obedient child with their clean and mannerly parents.
Now, about which one do you think "Good Christian home right there!"
There's a lot of pressure and prejudice when you children's behavior is under the magnifying glass.
Yet if we focus only on behavior, on enforcing it and programming it, we'll raise squeaky-clean unregenerate church goers.
There comes a point in your child's walk with Christ when their attitudes and actions will reflect Him because He's transforming them.
There will be mess, there will be poor choices, there will be raised eyebrows from onlookers.... but what the kids have will be real.
Thank you Litfuse Publicity, David C Cook, and Michelle Anthony for my review copy.