There is a plethora of resources available to Christian parents today, which is both a blessing and a problem. How do you know which are the most biblical and which may steer you in the wrong direction? After all, you want to be right on track with what the Bible says about parenting! You don’t want to realize that you missed the target when your children are leaving the house, but you want to “…bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Eph. 6:4) I encourage you to make it your goal to read at least one of these books this fall! Here are my current Top 10 Biblical Parenting Books…
Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp has become a classic biblical parenting book. If you are only going to read one parenting book this year, or if you have never read this, I can’t urge you more strongly to start with this one. There is also an excellent Study Guide available that really expands upon the book in a simple manner, written by Tedd Tripp 10 years after the original publication, and will help you to practically work through some of the topics in your own family.
“Don’t Make Me Count to Three!” by Ginger Plowman is my wife’s favorite parenting book. It takes the biblical principles in Shepherding a Child’s Heart and makes them extremely tangible. My favorite quote is from the Foreword, “I’ve heard many ‘experts’ proclaim that the Bible has very little to say about raising children. Perhaps they have spent too much time earning their degrees and too little time learning the Scriptures. God’s Word has plenty to say to parents if we diligently read it, apply it, and reap its fruits.” (pp. 16-17)
If you are looking for a “theology” of Christian parenting, this is your book: What the Bible Says About Parenting. John MacArthur faithfully and clearly explains the Scriptures that God has given us regarding parenting. Don’t let “theology of Christian parenting” turn you away though–in my opinion, this is one of John MacArthur’s best books. He is practical and passionate when he talks about the family and raising children God’s way, and it shows in his own family.
Your Family God’s Way by Wayne Mack. If you are having communication struggles within your family, whether in your marriage, with your children, or teens, this is the book for you. The subtitle, “Developing & Sustaining Relationships in the Home” belies that it deals with more, but the way that Wayne Mack practically explains the biblical principles of communication is worth this book’s weight in gold.
If you are struggling with being pessimistic about your family or your role as a parent, Disciplines of a Godly Family by Kent and Barbara Hughes is biblically joyful and positive. It is chock full of ideas for enjoying your family, learning and growing together, and living for the Lord. It is not as much of a parenting manual as some of the other books, but I highly recommend it if you need to move beyond a foundation, or if you need hope or ideas.
See my earlier blog post regarding The Duties of Parents by J.C. Ryle. It is available in a free download as a PDF here! It is an excellent booklet and is only 38 pages. The only caution I give is that Ryle sees Proverbs 22:6 as an absolute promise from God rather than as a divinely inspired proverb that explains how things generally work. If it were a promise, however, there would be no faithful parents with unfaithful children. It is well worth reading though and it will be helpful with your parenting.
The title of Gospel-Powered Parenting: How the Gospel Shapes and Transforms Parenting by William Farley intrigued me enough to get it on my bookshelf. I am confident commending it heartily as my Pastor, Mike Pohlman, recommends it. See his blog post here. Farley says in his Introduction, “In my experience, the most effective parents have a clear grasp of the cross and its implications for daily life.”
The Faithful Parent: A Biblical Guide to Raising a Family by Martha Peace and Stuart Scott is written by the same author that I have trusted enough (Scott) to read The Exemplary Husband three times! In an interview about this book Scott remarked that it is written from a “different yet biblical perspective: God’s and the parent’s faithfulness rather than the ‘product’ or the outcome.”
In Age of Opportunity: A Biblical Guide to Parenting Teens, Paul David Tripp hopefully titles the first chapter, “Age of Opportunity or Season for Survival?” Certainly it is the former. Ken Sande explains that this book “…provides a superb road map for raising teenage children…[and] experiencing with them the challenges, victories, and joys of our journey to maturity in Christ.”
Growing Up Christian by Karl Graustein is not a parenting book. It is actually written to teens who have grown up in the church and subtitled, “Have you taken ownership of your relationship with God?” It is well written and a book that would be perfect for a parent of a teenager to read simultaneously with their teen and discuss over coffee or a meal together. It would be a great way to shepherd your child’s [teen’s] heart!