In The Disciple-Making Parent, Chap Bettis presents the idea that parenting is essentially the process of helping our kids grow as disciples of Christ. The book is split into three large sections each containing short chapters that relate to a specific aspect of parenting. Bettis writes with great conviction and urges parents to take seriously the biblical command to raise their children in the fear of the Lord. The author begins in Part 1 with a broad overview of what gospel-centered parenting is and how the gospel needs to be the foundation by which parents build their framework to discipline, motivate, and encourage their children. In Part 2, Bettis moves on to discuss parenting in the context of the Christian home and how to train young hearts to love His Word and His people. The last portion of the book is largely practical such as training kids to understand and defend their faith along with age-specific aspects of parenting such as multimedia usage and friendships. The most thought-provoking idea Bettis suggested is the observation that parenting is a spectrum that progresses from intentional discipline in the toddler years to wise counsel as the children prepare to enter adulthood. Bettis laments that many parents either flips these two around or focuses solely on one parenting style throughout the childrearing years. The author notes that these approaches ends up becoming a hindrance to maturity and ill-equipping children to face life’s challenges when they need to make moral decisions on their own. Throughout the book, the author offers plenty of practical advice from his own experience but wisely cautions against following his suggestions unwaveringly as he notes that no human-conceived method can guarantee parenting success. Rather, Bettis asks parents to pour out their hearts to God and rely on Him as their source of strength and wisdom to make prudent parenting decisions. Furthermore, whether our children end up following or straying from Christ is not within our control thus parents need to learn to commit their children to the Lord while faithfully undertaking the weighty but joyful role of parent-disciple maker.
I readily recommend this book to all Christian parents looking for a concise yet comprehensive resource on raising children to be mature followers of Christ. Although readers may not agree with all the parenting tips, the book is full of valuable observations and ideas that will prove helpful for any Christian parent who hopes to raise God-honouring children that love the Lord and His people. Moreover, Bettis confesses his own failures and reiterates at various points in the book that childrearing issues need to be evaluated with wisdom and humility using Scripture and the Holy Spirit as trusted guides. The gospel informs our parenting in that we do not need to rely on our righteousness or faithfulness to be good parents. We, along with our children, are fellow recipients of grace through Christ who not only took on our sins but currently intercedes on our behalf before the Father when we fail as fathers and mothers. Rather than punishing ourselves for another unsuccessful attempt at family devotions, we can come to our merciful God to ask for forgiveness and strength to take up the task again.