Chip Ingram --- prolific author, pastor and father of four grown children --- tells befuddled parents that it’s possible to raise exceptional children in a world gone wild. He opens his text by backtracking some years ago when the television sitcom “Roseanne” was all the rage. Ingram explains that while the American public laughed at this family's obvious dysfunction, somehow they also resonated with their struggles as well. As Ingram notes, "Here was a family in crisis who could laugh about it."
Ingram then poignantly points out that what is laughable at a distance is frequently devastating up close. Perhaps most disconcerting is that the majority of parents seems to live in crisis mode, only reacting to one problem after another rather than proactively planning and leading their children to and through God's life-giving principles. Ingram shares that moms and dads first need to develop clear-cut objectives whereby they are aiming for God's best and highest purpose to be fulfilled in each child's life. Holiness, not happiness, is God's goal. However, parents often get sidetracked by the world's definition of life success that is in large part exactly the opposite of what God's written word commands. Another "must" for parents is to practice what they preach. As the old adage goes, "Character is always more caught than taught. Always."
The author spends a good amount of space describing, through personal retelling of his family's events and that of others, how to learn God's plan for effective discipline, punishment versus discipline, and words that discipline. Each chapter also includes practical steps for moms and dads to incorporate into their daily routine that will strengthen the bonds between parents and children.
Readers will find especially helpful Ingram's section on "Five Smooth Stones," in which he dismantles five life myths and offers the biblical alternative to each. Included are these valuable life lessons:
* First Stone: Teach them to suffer well by instructing children that suffering is a normal component of this life.
* Second Stone: Teach them to work "unto the Lord" by explaining how every person is created to work.
* Third Stone: Teach them to manage their wealth wisely by underscoring that everything is a sacred stewardship and ultimately owned by God.
* Fourth Stone: Teach them to make wise decisions by reaping God's best through the habit of daily holy living.
* Fifth Stone: Teach them to live grace-filled lives by embracing the principle that everyone is created to receive and give grace.
Ingram's text is full of instruction, but as is his custom, his voice of encouragement consistently takes readers by the hand and walks them to a more hope-filled place. As he notes, "Even God's parenting is messy," so we humans should take heart and not give up.
Reviewed by Michele Howe on November 13, 2011