Legacy is the topic of Dr. James Dobson’s latest book, a book he considers his capstone work. Your Legacy: the Greatest Gift traces the spiritual legacy left to him by his great-grandfather, grandfather, and father. Dr. Dobson shares how these men of the faith raised their families and impacted his life. He then goes on to examine just how they transmitted the faith through four (going on five) generations and how we as parents can also pass on a strong legacy of faith to our children.
Dr. Dobson says the spiritual training of children is “to be the highest priority in living for parents and grandparents who are committed Christians.” This is a subject he has touched on in other books, the subject he considers his central theme. As soon as our children can talk, we should be teaching them the fundamentals of the faith. He uses personal examples to show how this looked in his own family, and Scriptural examples of fathers who were great men of the faith—but failed to pass it on to their children. He also shares the stats from researcher George Barna that “it becomes progressively more difficult to influence children spiritually as they grow older.”
Despite that, Dr. Dobson does share tips in the next chapter for reaching our “prodigals.” Most of this chapter is a story shared by two parents whose son became rebellious in university. Dr. Dobson interviews them about what happened and how they reached out to their son until his return to their home and his faith. He then uses the story of the Prodigal Son in the New Testament to give further advice on reaching children who chose a path different than the one we taught them.
Throughout the book, Dr. Dobson is honest about the challenges that today’s parents face in raising their children with Christian values. In “Words Matter,” he looks at the impact that words have upon our children’s lives—and we can create a close-knit family. He notes that it is “doubly important to build relationships with kids from their earliest childhood. Your sons and daughters must know that you love them unconditionally and that everything you require is for their own good.” He emphasizes the importance of family fun and the fact that “the most meaningful activities in a family are often those simple interactions that build lasting connections between generations.”
Chapter Twelve is a Q&A with Dr. Dobson on “the Spiritual Training of Children,” containing a variety of questions from parents and Dr. Dobson’s practical answers. This chapter covers everything from the debate on letting our children decide for themselves on matters related to God, to more questions about prodigals, to helping children face the violence that happens in our world today.
Finally, at the end of the book, Dr. Dobson wraps up everything he has been saying by looking at “The Deeper Meaning of Legacy.” Here he reiterates the fact that the most importance legacy we can leave to our children is a spiritual legacy. He notes the dangers of large monetary inheritances, which can cause greed and jealousy and fighting between siblings. In closing, he tells parents, “let me urge you not to be discouraged by temporal cares. Accept the circumstances as they are presented to you. Give the highest priority to the spiritual training of your sons and daughters. They deserve your best.”
Your Legacy ends with two appendices to give parents further resources on training their children. The first appendix is “Strategies to Build Your Legacy” and the second is “Stories to Build Your Legacy.” Both give parents concrete action tips and inspiration to apply what Dr. Dobson has been talking about throughout his book. Overall, this is a book that provides parents with much food for thought, practical advice, and inspiration in raising their children to serve God.
Dr. James Dobson is a New York Times bestselling author of more than 30 books, including Bringing Up Girls: Practical Advice and Encouragement for Those Shaping the Next Generation of Women. He has a Ph.D. in child development and served for many years at the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles and at the University of Southern California School of Medicine. He has seventeen honorary degrees and is the founder and president of Family Talk.
I received this book for review courtesy of the publicist; all opinions expressed are my own. This post contains affiliate links.