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Thursday, August 23, 2018

"The Lifegiving Parent" (Clay and Sally Clarkson)

TITLE: The Lifegiving Parent: Giving Your Child a Life Worth Living for Christ
AUTHOR: Clay and Sally Clarkson
PUBLISHER: Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2018, (256 pages).

Children are God's gift to parents. Lifegiving is a two-way path. Whether it is the struggle through challenges, enigma of choices; joy of chuckles; or grappling with changes; parents will always be parents, albeit, evolving roles. What is Christian parenting? How can parents continue their role of giving life after each growth phase? Is Christian parenting more than simply giving faith? Having written books and given conferences to Christian mothers, author Sally Clarkson has teamed up with her husband Clay to provide answers to both sets of parents. This third book in the "Life giving" trilogy addresses parents and shows us what it means to be lifegiving parents. In a nutshell, lifegiving parenting is not just about giving children the faith in Christ but giving the life of Christ. Sharing their personal stories of parenting amid tumultuous career and personal upheavals, they tie in their faith victories with powerful parenting lessons of wisdom. These lessons are marinated with both successes and failures. The key theme of this book is that parenting is less about what we do and more about who we are. That is why the authors spend the bulk of the book talking about the eight "heartbeats of parental lifegiving." The logic is simple. We parent out of who we are.

The first heartbeat is about "numbering your child's days." Oddly titled, it is essentially about the crucial ten-year period of a child. Knowing the limited timeframe helps us plan our priorities accordingly. This is particularly helpful for those of us who are perpetually busy and frequently multi-tasking everything instead of prioritizing the key important items. The second heartbeat is about nurturing, not exasperating. It is about "discipline and instruction, training and admonition." The third heartbeat helps the child to guard his/her heart, to help set direction instead of the destination. It also means setting boundaries that protect them. The fourth heartbeat is about renewing the child's mind even as they get ready to engage the world at large. The home is the best school for kids. This heartbeat is essential to equip the child to see the world from God's perspective. The fifth heartbeat aims to strengthen the child's faith in actively believing. In fact, it is not just about believing. It is about believing that in Jesus, everything changes for the better. The sixth heartbeat shapes the child's will from self to God's.  The seventh and eighth heartbeats are about character building and imagination respectively. Clay and Sally end the book with a clarion reminder toward four priorities:

  1. Know ourselves as a parent
  2. Know our child as good
  3. Know that God is faithful
  4. Know that our times belong to God.
My Thoughts

There is no doubt that society is rapidly changing, demanding the ways we parent adapt to these changes. Christian parents have a responsibility to parent with godly wisdom and biblical guidance. At the same time, they need help with regard to sharpening the parenting focus. Three things strike me.

First, there is the sense of purpose in the parenting curriculum. Beginning with an awareness of a limited timeframe for parenting, each heartbeat builds upon the previous to help parents keep a systematic framework in their parenting effort. There is a gradual shift from teaching to showing; from telling to guiding; and from protecting to enabling. I appreciate the part about belief instilled from a young age. In our society, it is easy to be lukewarm about everything to the point of conviction about nothing. Such a mood reflects a society torn apart by false secular ideals and flawed sense of inclusiveness. We need to teach our children to be bold in their belief and not be easily swayed by the shifting mindstorms everywhere. Conviction is not something parents can instil but it is definitely something that parents could begin with themselves.

Second, the authors have many resources that readers can take advantage of. There are books, weblinks, Whole Heart Ministy resources, and their workshops. Parents will need all the help they could get and the Clarksons definitely gift us with a conveniently packed materials rolled into one book. More could be found at wholeheart.org.

Third, be patient. Even the ten-year nurturing timeline need to be adapted according to the child's uniqueness. Parents will always be parents. Physiologically, children will grow up faster than we may mentally comprehend but there is always a need for spiritual guidance. Patience is a virtue that will not be chained by time.

Clay Clarkson is executive director of Whole Heart Ministries which he founded in 1994 with his wife Sally. He is also a singer, songwriter, worship leader, and storyteller. Sally Clarkson mothers four grown children and is a popular speaker at conferences.

Rating: 4.75 stars of 5.


This book has been provided courtesy of Tyndale House Publishers and NetGalley without requiring a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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