This post was originally titled A Comparison of Goals, as posted on the Grace Church Children's Ministry parenting blog. I thought it was worth re-posting, with some edits.
Whereas I highly recommend Shepherding A Child's Heart, it is, of course, not the only parenting book that I've read. I have read other books that I mostly agreed with, and some that I mostly disagreed with, but I feel that just about every resource has something to offer.
Such is the case with Parenting by The Book, by John Rosemond. The author gives some strong principles, many of which are parallel to those in "Shepherding." For example, Rosemond is especially keen on stressing that a child should be given responsibility in the family, and that children should learn to esteem others more than they esteem themselves. Additionally, he gives a number of specific applications which can be implemented and helpful for many families. We have incorporated some in our family.
However, the big difference in these two books seems to be the motives behind the parenting. Rosemond's apparent goal is to help make the job of parenting easier and less stressful for parents, while producing responsible children who will grow up to be productive members of society. While those may be noble goals, I do not believe that they should be a the forefront of our minds. How I parent should not be about my own happiness (or about the happiness of others), but about the glory of God.
Instead, I agree more with Tripp that the main goal for parents should be Gospel-oriented life change. I believe that it is only the Gospel -- and not tips from any person (including Tripp, Rosemond, or any other source of counsel) -- that has the power to change the hearts and lives of our children. While we are called to love and lead our children, we can actually do nothing to cause them to have a heart that is repentant and humbled before our Lord.
Rosemond may agree with the need for Gospel-oriented life change, but I don't see it as a theme throughout his book. In fact, a couple of years ago I heard Rosemond speak on parenting, and in about 90 minutes of teaching, I distinctly remember that he never even mentioned the word "Gospel" even once. His main themes (as in Parenting by the Book) were that proper parenting should make life easier for you, and that "Biblical parenting" is equivalent to how people parented 50-60 years ago. I don't see any basis for either one of these in the Scriptures.
Here is the tension: even though there is nothing we can do to make our child trust in the Gospel, this must always be our main goal as parents. The best we can do is to live out what it looks like to be a disciple of Christ, to create a fertile environment where our child's faith can grow, and to cry out to our Father to have mercy on the souls of our kids.
Rosemond's book offers many good applications and therefore can be useful to you. However, make sure that you start with a theology that is closer to that in Shepherding a Child's Heart or Don't Make Me Count to Three!
Have you read any of Rosemond's books or other resources? Do you think I'm missing something?