By Elisabeth Elliot
Thoman Nelson Publisher
$19.00, 264 pages
To date, Elisabeth Elliot’s classic The Shaping of a Christian Family is my favorite parenting book. It is filled to over-flowing with so much inspiration on how to raise a family. The four pages of glossy family photos in the middle of the book of Elliot and her family over the years really brings it down to earth. It is nice to know this book is about a “real” family with real people and problems, and not just a bunch of well meaning, gathered advice from one individual. Many might find the information in this book slightly overwhelming; however, I find it as something to strive for. As Elliot states in the afterword –
“Some may have read right through, finding principles which make sense which they would long to follow, yet feeling quite hopeless about doing so… this story is of one man’s family, meant to be a description, not a prescription” (Elliot 214).
When I first started reading, I got slightly confused as it started giving a background, slight biography on Elliot’s mother, Katharine G. Howard. I thought I was reading a parenting book, instead I felt as if I was reading a biography (my first clue should have been the large “biography” sticker on the binding of my interlibrary loan copy book – I apparently chose to ignore this sticker). It was not until chapter eighteen, or maybe nineteen, that Elliot actually branches away from more of the biography-ness of the book to more the of “parenting” advice (although every piece of advice is given with a story from her childhood). Elliot addresses issues such as sacrificial authority, trust, love, work and play, and courtesy (these were just some of my favorite chapters. The book covers so much more than just these topics).
Another thing that I quite enjoyed about this book is that not only was this Elliot’s re-telling of how she was raised, but notes from her mother were also included throughout. Not only were these principles simply given to be taken at face value, but many were backed up with scripture which is much more encouraging and convicting than just one person’s account of how you should raise your children.
I would highly recommend this book whether you are newly-married and just beginning to think about starting a family, a family with toddlers, or a family with mostly teenagers. This book is enlightening!