I’m lumping two books together here because they share many similarities- I started them as part of a Bible study group, I haven’t actually finished them yet, and they are both about communicating love and grace to your children and others in your life. The Blessing is a small group study based on John Trent and Gary Smalley’s book of the same name. It focuses on places in the Bible in which a blessing was imparted from a parent to a child, such as in the case of Jacob, or when it was withheld, such as with his brother Esau. The authors describe how we might apply this to our lives today by understanding the importance of giving and receiving blessings, and how it is done. I liked that this study included a lot of specific practical application while maintaining its depth and meaning- a difficult balance to achieve. In the past several months this study has made me think of not only how I can interact meaningfully with my son, but how I can interact meaningfully with other family members and friends too.
The second book, Grace Based Parenting, by Tim Kimmel, is about (surprise!) using God’s simple model of grace as a framework for parenting. This includes having a basis of unconditional love even during times of conflict. And the author describes how having a true understanding of grace as a foundation will help parents to avoid two common undesirable extremes- the legalistic and the boundary-less or completely permissive parenting styles. This book was really refreshing, because as the author points out, there is an abundance of legalistic, isolationist, and fear-based parenting advice out there, particularly in the Christian community. I love coming across authors like this who resist that whole one-upping competition (the “I get points for every person I can proclaim is wrong” disease) and bring simple truth.