The Strategic Homemaker

learning to follow the Father, care for the clan, and redeem the resources

Double Book Summary and Review


We have officially entered the stage of child discipline in this household. Because I am very intimidated by this, I read three books on it, and now I am an expert ;).  Just kidding. Here’s the breakdown on two of the books. (The third was “Entrusted with a Child’s Heart, and it is 500 pages long–making it hard to do a brief summary.) In the interest of length, I’m going to stay broad, and not use quotes or pick out individual sentences. If you want to read those kind of reviews, check out the reviews on Amazon (which is where the pictures come from, fyi).

Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Ted Tripp


The book is divided into two parts.  The first part of the book gives overarching principles.

It points out the parent’s responsibility in teaching the child and pointing him or her toward God. It has you evaluate your goals in raising your children (e.g. to be happy, well-behaved, pray the sinner’s prayer, get a good education, etc. ) and see how they align with the Bible’s teaching. It points out that even if you tell your child that what is most important is to love and honor God, they pick up on casual things you say and do that teach them your real beliefs.

Another chapter walks through different methods of discipline, identifying them as either unBiblical or Biblical.  Tripp’s three methods of discipline he considers Biblical are communication, spanking, and appealing to conscience. Communication can be listening to understand, encouragement, warning, reproof, correction, instruction, or prayer.

The second section of the book has training objectives and procedures for ages 0-5, 5-12, and 13-18.

–Ages 0-5: Teach them obedience to your (and God’s) authority. Be consistent while giving them permission to appeal.Build the foundation of your relationship with them by being a good example of obedience to God and pointing them to God through discipline.

–Ages 5-12: Teach character. Evaluate their relationships to God themselves and others. Address the attitudes of the heart as you see it in their behavior, and appeal to their conscience when you address them like Jesus did.

–Ages 13+: Teach fear of the Lord, adherence to parental instruction, disassociation from the wicked. Your use of authority goes down while your use of influence goes up, so keep interactions positive, not protecting them from the consequences of bad choices, but always pointing back to the cross and hope. and don’t nit-pick, but address overarching problems.

Pros: This book has a lot of practical ideas. I also liked that it focuses on addressing the child’s heart issues, not just teaching their behavior to conform to some social norm.  Finally, it puts a big emphasis on building a good parent-child relationship, and being able to point to the Bible for the expectations you have and enforce with your child.

Cons: Tripp describes spanking as about the only Biblically acceptable form of discipline outside of communication, although he thinks this is acceptable only from parents, and doesn’t seem to use it at all with older children. So if this is the case, how would you discipline foster children? or students? Also, on page 180, he says that he doesn’t discipline for lying if the child doesn’t admit he lies after appealing to conscience (it’s unclear if this is with proven lies, or just suspected). He thinks it’s better to have the child growing up knowing you will believe him, than to discipline and break that relationship. I can see this to a point (I do remember a time in junior high I was telling the truth about something and a teacher told me I was lying. It did tick me off.), but I also think you could let your child become a pathological liar this way.

Give them Grace by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson

Summary: This book focuses on the communication and appealing to conscience aspects of discipline that distinguish Christians from non-Christians, that is, how to point your child to the gospel. It is pretty nichy, in that it’s definitely from a Reformed Baptist perspective, and it doesn’t spend much time address general discipline or much discipline for little children. The chapters cover the roles of law and grace, look at “goodness,” point out God’s ultimate role in changing kids’ hearts, and give examples of how to look to the gospel in many different parenting situations.

Pros: This book is a good reminder of God’s grace to us all the time. It constantly points parents to look to Jesus, as well as encourages parents to point their kids to Jesus and not just train them to be “good” kids. I appreciated the reminder.

Cons: First, due to the nichi-ness of the perspective, this isn’t a good book to recommend to just anyone. (Definitely not Mormons, who get called out in the first chapter. Ahem.) I’m from roughly the same perspective as the authors, and even I winced at the way some things were said and disagreed theologically with other lines.  Also, some of the examples of how you would point a kid to the gospel are really long; they’re pointed at either “Christian” kids or “non-Christian” kids; and they don’t make kids apologize if they aren’t truly sorry.  I think these might apply more when the kids are older, but I doubt it will help with young children.

Main conclusion after both books: They were both good books to read, even though you might not agree with everything the authors say.  I concluded that I need to pray for a lot more wisdom and trust God with the results. Who knew? 🙂 I realize that sounds like a cop-out, but there is no way every situation that may arise can be described in these books. The basic idea is to love your children, be consistent in discipline, and focus on their hearts and the gospel, not just on conforming behavior. Then ask God to help you apply that to various situations.

Do you have any books on discipline you’d recommend?


13 thoughts on “Double Book Summary and Review

  1. Though it doesn’t really give “practical” discipline strategies, we loved “Grace Based Parenting” for an over all philosophy/heart of raising our kiddos (especially as they get older). I did appreciate the practical advice in “Shepherding a Child’s Heart” for starting discipline when Isaiah was a toddler. We kind of tweeked it a little and he has responded well to it. We’ll definitely need to follow the Spirit’s leading (even more than books) as we try to figure out what’s best for EACH of our kiddos (maybe the same things won’t work w/Toby) through each phase of life. Praying for you as you do the same!

  2. We too have read Shepherding a Child’s Heart and found a lot of wisdom in it; however, I also find a need for more practical modes of discipline. Not all children respond to spanking, and if not administered extremely appropriately and sparingly, I see that it fails to reach the heart of my children.
    Heartfelt Discipline by Clay Clarkson is on my short list of books to read, and I believe it would be one with more of a focus on methods of discipline outside of corporal punishment. Anything written by him or his wife, Sally Clarekson, has stirred my heart with renewed passion to raise children who are in love with God and equipped to impact their world. I attended her conference last weekend and would highly recommend planning to glean from their wisdom and experience.
    I am currently about one-third of the way through Grace-Based Parenting by Kimmel, and while I haven’t made it to the chapter on discipline yet, it is a great read as well.

  3. Great summaries (I am working through Shepherding right now) and added bonus that the comments so far have provided more insights and recommendations!

  4. It’s been a really long time since I’ve read it so I can’t give specifics, but I liked “Don’t Make Me Count to Three” by Ginger Plowman (I’m thinking I should probably go back and re-read it!). She also has another resource that gives specific scriptures to use when dealing with different discipline situations – a smaller chart or pamphlet type thing. I don’t have it, but a friend of mine said she taped it to the inside of a kitchen cabinet and referred to it often :).

  5. i’ve read Shepherding and just started Grace Based. i appreciate your summaries. and your conclusion about praying, praying and more praying is my conclusion as well. i honestly wish i could see some real-life examples…but i know every child and situation is different. i have also read Don’t Make Me Count To Three (similar to Shepherding). I have heard decent things about Parenting with Love and Logic. And I just ordered The Art of Family to read with a group of friends.

    Now that our oldest is 3.5 yrs, i question our parenting and sometimes feel helpless and i wish i had more examples…and desperately feel the need for prayer!

  6. i do like Wise Words for Moms – it’s a little pamphlet that i think will continue to be a helpful guide as our boys get older.

  7. Thanks, Ladies! I will check them out!

  8. ps. i also read Simplicity Parenting (not a Christian author) and i REALLY liked it. i’m planning on re-reading it. it’s a different take on parenting and it’s not about training or discipline, but more about how you run your home as a family– rhythms/routines/toys/activities etc

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