Final parenting review.  This book kind of got me off to a bad start, because, in true American-mainstream-Christian nonfiction book style, it jumbles up all kinds of pop psychology and vague use of the Bible.  If you remember from my previous posts, I believe that the Bible’s teaching about the main aims of parenting are that we are to raise children who love and serve Jesus.  While we certainly are told not to exasperate them and to love them, at the end of the day, the goal is not to have kids who feel loved, so much as children who love Jesus. (I have especially been noticing this since reading When People Are Big and God Is Small.)

So I have issues with Kimmel’s main point, which is that the goal of parenting is to meet the three driving needs of your children.  These are:

1. A need for security
2. A need for significance
3. A need for strengthWhile I don’t doubt that children (in fact, most people) need these three things, I don’t see that this is the be-all and end-all of the Bible’s comments on parenting.

However, I found that as the book went on, the book actually did improve.  Kimmel is arguing for a style of parenting that enforces rules and moral boundaries, but at the same time, also lets your children know that they are loved, and that they can make mistakes.

The problem for any potential readers will depend on what your starting point is, and what moral absolutes you think you should impress upon your children.  If you’re the type of parent who wants to protect your children from the world, make sure their hair is kept to a suitable length, monitor their music closely, watch what they wear, etc. then you will probably find this book far too permissive for your liking.

If, on the other hand, you think teaching your children grace means letting them get away with everything, well then, this book will challenge you as well.  On the whole, I found by the end that I understood a lot of what he was talking about.  The problem is, quite simply, that if he wants to take in strong fundamentalist parents who are very strict with their children, then Tim Kimmel needs to be much more exegetically sound.

I’ve seen books written by Christians against rock music, daughters wearing jeans, etc. and believe me, they back up their assertions chapter and verse from the Bible, quote Scripture in every paragraph.  A bit of talk about grace is not going to convince people.

However, most people I know are not that strict.  In which case, you’ll probably agree with most things in this book.

4 out of 5.


5 thoughts on “Book Review: Grace Based Parenting (Tim Kimmel)

  1. I do believe that you have to be a parent a lot longer than you have to be able to criticize this book.

    Read it again in 10 years.

  2. 10 years huh? Doesn’t sound like a grace-based comment.

    Some people are prone to look down on others for not being experienced parents. “Oh, you’ll understand when you’ve got kids of your own.” “Oh, you just haven’t been a parent long enough.”

    The reality is that many long-time parents haven’t got a clue, while many non-parents or new parents have insight just as good, if not better. This can be true for a range of reasons, such as: they’ve been around many children (perhaps lived among nieces and nephews they’ve helped raise), are keen observers, students of human nature, well-read, well-grounded, etc.

    As a Christian parent I found the review balanced and helpful — thanks Matt.

  3. Hey, just stumbled in searching for a book review on this…It sounds balanced from what you’ve written.

    I agree completely, it’s not the length of time you’ve parented. In fact, I know many young couples (parents or not) who are (or will be) better parents than their parents are/were- by God’s grace.

    Thanks for doing the review.

  4. People “quoting” the Bible to “prove their point” is exactly what I DONT like seeing in Christian parenting books. If you haven’t noticed anyone can find verses, ect to proof their perfect idea of parenting and then label it “God’s way”. Its just wrong. This book was refreshing….

  5. Matthew,
    Thanks for your review. We appreciate hearing from the Aussies on the book. I will email you because our ministry would love to send you another resource to try…
    Karis Murray
    Family Matters
    (Dr. Kimmel’s Ministry)

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