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Jesus, the Gentle Parent: Gentle Christian Parenting

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In this examination of mainstream Christian parenting practices and the doctrinal beliefs behind them, best-selling author, L.R.Knost, debunks common cultural and theological beliefs about spanking, original sin, sin nature, submission, authority, obedience, breaking a child’s will, and more, along with providing grace-filled, gentle solutions to behavior issues.


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In this examination of mainstream Christian parenting practices and the doctrinal beliefs behind them, best-selling author, L.R.Knost, debunks common cultural and theological beliefs about spanking, original sin, sin nature, submission, authority, obedience, breaking a child’s will, and more, along with providing grace-filled, gentle solutions to behavior issues.

30 review for Jesus, the Gentle Parent: Gentle Christian Parenting

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ricki

    Quit reading at 52 pages. I can't take a book seriously that does not take my God seriously. I want to give it two stars because I think the parenting principles are good, but the theology is SO BAD that I just can't even. This book is a fluffy, emotion-based defense of "gentle parenting" (attachment parenting, no discipline, etc) as a reaction to Christian training/discipline books. I am in Knost's camp and I do appreciate much of her material--I agree with her principles and even appreciate her Quit reading at 52 pages. I can't take a book seriously that does not take my God seriously. I want to give it two stars because I think the parenting principles are good, but the theology is SO BAD that I just can't even. This book is a fluffy, emotion-based defense of "gentle parenting" (attachment parenting, no discipline, etc) as a reaction to Christian training/discipline books. I am in Knost's camp and I do appreciate much of her material--I agree with her principles and even appreciate her sentimental poetic bits. (Although sometimes she does lay it on too thick when it comes to the perfect wonderful amazing joy of parenting--not everything is sunshine and roses.) But this book is trying to be an argumentative book and it completely fails, because L.R. Knost picks and chooses the Scriptures she likes and sweeps under the rug anything she doesn't (which is a lot). This is unfortunate because I do agree with her end points, but the way she's getting there is messed up. For instance, she spends a chapter on the doctrine of the sinful nature of humankind--that people are born with selfish desires and want to rebel against God and find their own way in the world. This theological doctrine is pretty common and is backed up by plenty of Scripture (e.g. Ps 51:5, Ps 58:3, Eph 2:3). So Knost quotes some Christian disciplinarian books about how your kid is sinful and you need to spank the sin out. In my opinion, she doesn't even have to make these authors look bad--the quotations speak for themselves. Her job is already half done! But then she overshoots and says there is no such thing as a sinful nature, using only the argument that she thinks it isn't logical: that children are God's work and God's "work is perfect... made in God's image... no in-built flaw from the hands of God... simply doesn't make sense. It doesn't add up in light of God's perfection, his love, his wisdom." As you can see, Knost uses her own human reasoning, and doesn't try to back up her opinions with any Biblical basis. She simply disregards the many Bible verses about the sinful nature used by the crazy authors she disagrees with. We've just gone from one end of the spectrum to the other. (As a side note, here's what I believe: there is such a thing as a sinful nature, and it can't be spanked out. But by our modelling God's love and forgiveness for our children even when they do wrong, we teach them that they can overcome that sinful nature with the help of the Holy Spirit within them.) Knost further uses dangerously bad metaphors such as Jesus as parent to his disciples (I disagree that Jesus' teaching relationship with adults is somehow attachment parenting and "skin-to-skin" "kangaroo care"); that Jesus overturning tables at the Temple is by definition a temper tantrum (to prove that temper tantrums are fine, even Jesus had one); the Old Testament as "Punishment-based Parenting" and the New Testament as "Connection-based Parenting." In this last section she says God uses the Law as "a big yellow highlighter" to show humans the message "YOU HAVE FALLEN AND YOU CAN'T GET UP." She compares the law to spanking and harsh punishment, but remember that "the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good" (Ro 7:12) and God gave the law so that he COULD come down and be with the people! God is a holy and righteous God, yet she calls him a "purportedly tyrannical parent" until Jesus appears on scene and is a "gentle parent." I agree that punishment-based parenting is wrong, but I disagree that God was wrong in His entire relationship with His people until Jesus. What a massive judgment to make! Knost must feel comforted by thinking that since God has changed, she can throw out anything God commanded or did before Jesus, because her view of God is simply too gentle and narrow-minded to accept the whole totality of God. And I too do not fully understand all of God's sovereign actions, but I would rather admit that I struggle with accepting all of who God is, than ignore all of who God is and instead worship my own image of God. Recommended for: people who already like "gentle parenting" principles and just want to be reinforced in this belief, and don't mind poor Biblical teaching.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Nicole

    This book has been really hard to read for me because of all of the excerpts from other "Christian" parenting books and anecdotes about how people are using mistranslated old testament scripture as an excuse to physically punish their children for simply acting like children. This book, of course, stands up against this, but I am already of the "gentle parenting" mindset (which to me is just parenting...why would I ever hit or withdraw my unconditional love from my precious child to "train" them This book has been really hard to read for me because of all of the excerpts from other "Christian" parenting books and anecdotes about how people are using mistranslated old testament scripture as an excuse to physically punish their children for simply acting like children. This book, of course, stands up against this, but I am already of the "gentle parenting" mindset (which to me is just parenting...why would I ever hit or withdraw my unconditional love from my precious child to "train" them? that's asinine.) I can see myself using this book as a resource if someone should suggest I parent differently than I do, especially if and when they quote mistranslated scripture or something that isn't even scripture at all like "spare the rod, spoil the child," which is not in the Bible. As far as this being a revealing source of info, all it revealed to me is how there are people out there taking advantage of insecure parents and teaching them to deny their instincts and emotionally and physically abuse their children as a method of "training." I feel physically ill after reading this book and am taking comfort in the fact that most young parents that I know do not subscribe to withdrawing grace and love from their children to train for "instant obedience," which is a crock of you know what. I am thankful that this book is out there as a resource for parents who want to follow their hearts and instincts and parent with grace and compassion.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    This is a very important book. It was also difficult to read. The first portion was mostly what not to do and why if you want to be a good Christian parent. It specifically focused on debunking other "Christian" parenting advice that advocates punitive, harshly authoritarian, and abusive practices. Reading the excerpts from those other books was so distressing! It's horrifying to think that people actually follow these abusive practices at all, let alone in the name of Christianity. I cried, I h This is a very important book. It was also difficult to read. The first portion was mostly what not to do and why if you want to be a good Christian parent. It specifically focused on debunking other "Christian" parenting advice that advocates punitive, harshly authoritarian, and abusive practices. Reading the excerpts from those other books was so distressing! It's horrifying to think that people actually follow these abusive practices at all, let alone in the name of Christianity. I cried, I held my baby closer, I lost sleep. The second portion was what to do. In this portion of the book, rather than quoting other parenting books that she disagrees with, L.R. Knost quotes heavily from her other, secular books on gentle parenting, with added scriptural commentary. I wish I could get every Christian parent to read this book, especially if they've been exposed to those other terrible "Christian" parenting books. It is a good book and an important book. I'm not sure how much I personally got out of this book, though. I was 100% on board with gentle parenting before I read this, and I'm still 100% on board, so the first part about how gentle parenting is a valid Biblical approach wasn't something I needed. I was already planning to read all her other books as well, so the second part that quoted so much from her other books didn't feel needed to me either. Ah well, it won't hurt to read those parts again when I read the other books, anyway. I feel kind of weird with this review, because on the one hand, I would definitely recommend this book to everyone, but on the other hand, I'm not sure that I found it worthwhile personally. I did make a lot of highlights and really enjoyed the gentle parenting perspective on all the Bible verses she quoted.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Paul Pacurar

    L.R. Knost is definitely a very good parent, psychologist and a sincere believer. I admired her attitude and I have to admit that so many issues have the roots in our attitude as parents. The book challenges to be honest and not to demand from the little ones what we ourselves lack. I can say I liked the book, and I would also highly recommend it. Still, I have some points I did not agree with the author, especially when it comes to theological issues. When she dives in too much, sometimes I thi L.R. Knost is definitely a very good parent, psychologist and a sincere believer. I admired her attitude and I have to admit that so many issues have the roots in our attitude as parents. The book challenges to be honest and not to demand from the little ones what we ourselves lack. I can say I liked the book, and I would also highly recommend it. Still, I have some points I did not agree with the author, especially when it comes to theological issues. When she dives in too much, sometimes I think she is wrong, very wrong. For example, [she says that:] God doesn't hate sin, but hates it only because he loves the believer; when sin entered in the world it didn't affect human nature in itself, but it brought the capability to sin (and I wondered how could sin enter this world if this capability was not already there?) - so, and this is a main point I don't agree with her, she doesn't see human nature to be fallen, so the kids are perfectly innocent no matter what they do.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Long

    I gave this book 2 stars bc L.R. walks on thin ice with her theology. For example, "those who have hurt you may not deserve forgiveness, but you deserve the peace forgiving will bring". None of use deserve forgiveness, yet we forgive bc Jesus forgave. Also, she claims children are born perfect, in the image of God, and choose sin later in life. So much scripture backs up all man being born "dead in sin". She has some interesting insights into spanking and scripture interpretation, but I can't ge I gave this book 2 stars bc L.R. walks on thin ice with her theology. For example, "those who have hurt you may not deserve forgiveness, but you deserve the peace forgiving will bring". None of use deserve forgiveness, yet we forgive bc Jesus forgave. Also, she claims children are born perfect, in the image of God, and choose sin later in life. So much scripture backs up all man being born "dead in sin". She has some interesting insights into spanking and scripture interpretation, but I can't get past her agenda filled theology. We are a minority in the church with our "gentle parenting", but I could never recommend this, unfortunately. Read it if you please, but it is no way life changing over here.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    Great book for those looking for biblical based reasoning for being a gentle parent, including an argument against spanking which is phenomenal and backed by scripture!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Carrie

    This book was life changing. It put into eloquent words what my soul had been crying for years. It is my new go-to baby shower present. I highly recommend it to anyone with children, young or old.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Joanna Horrar

    I will admit, it is not entirely what I expected. Overall, I really enjoyed it, and agree with most everything that I read. It is a great introduction to gentle parenting, specifically Christian gentle parenting. Pros: Really sweetly written; discussing the way Jesus treated his twelve “children.” Gives practical suggestions for different ages and stages. Talks about the whys of typical behaviors. Heavily references scripture. Cons: My biggest problem: this book should have come with a trigger war I will admit, it is not entirely what I expected. Overall, I really enjoyed it, and agree with most everything that I read. It is a great introduction to gentle parenting, specifically Christian gentle parenting. Pros: Really sweetly written; discussing the way Jesus treated his twelve “children.” Gives practical suggestions for different ages and stages. Talks about the whys of typical behaviors. Heavily references scripture. Cons: My biggest problem: this book should have come with a trigger warning. Knost quotes major Christian authors like Dobson, Ezzo, and Pearl to give an example of mainstream Christian parenting advice and then a counter with gentle Christian parenting advice. I recognize the need for this, but wow. The things I read made me sick to my stomach. I often had to skip those sections. This really was more of an overview than an in depth book. I should have expected this, given it was so short, but I did not. She references her other book at least 10 times. I supposed I will have to get that one. She gives outdated breastfeeding advice. Some may have issue with her theology, especially her views on original sin.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Natalie

    This book is basically a collection of quotes from her other books written within the context of the Bible. I loved that she goes back to the original Greek and Hebrew to clarify what the Bible actually says in regards to discipline.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jim Fulner

    Knost does one of the things I hate when authors due, quotes themselves and their other works in their own writing. Other than that it is pretty good. Gives a good argument for not being an ass to your kids and to not smack 'em even though you want to.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Colleen Mertens

    This was a practical parenting book filled with Scripture to guide you through all the stages of a child's development. It was written in a kind hearted, compassionate voice. It came across as an I've been there, Let me help guide. Good book for new parents.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jamie

    Uses hand-picked verses from the Bible to support a self-serving philosophy on parenting. Makes sweeping generalities and judgments without grace for alternative viewpoints.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Launa Hulse

    Great book! Loved reading this parenting book from a Christian perspective...and one that actually put the heart of Christ behind the parenting decisions not the struggling Old Testament Israelites. There is a Great Controversy and it is a battle of what the character of God is really like. This matters because it translates into how we treat our children and this book captures it all wonderfully. I only really disagree when she says children are born absolutely perfect. Even if they are born wit Great book! Loved reading this parenting book from a Christian perspective...and one that actually put the heart of Christ behind the parenting decisions not the struggling Old Testament Israelites. There is a Great Controversy and it is a battle of what the character of God is really like. This matters because it translates into how we treat our children and this book captures it all wonderfully. I only really disagree when she says children are born absolutely perfect. Even if they are born with a sinful nature...her argument still works that they should be treated with grace as Christ treats all of us fallen ones with grace.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Rhonda Wilson

    An excellent read. I completed it in one day - but expect I'll be jumping in and out of it many times So many lightbulb moments, plus a few moments of reflection on my own upbringing and learning how I wish to move forward now as a parent myself. Easy to read and thought provoking. I highly recommended.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Zamora

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Behan

  17. 5 out of 5

    Mary Dowell

  18. 5 out of 5

    Tae Shepler

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ashley Newberg

  20. 4 out of 5

    L.R. Knost

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kayla Mundt

  22. 4 out of 5

    Bekah

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kar Schmidt Holloway

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kristin

  25. 5 out of 5

    Patricia Concha

  26. 5 out of 5

    Leah Wells

  27. 5 out of 5

    Alyssa

  28. 4 out of 5

    Nick

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sara Wood

  30. 4 out of 5

    Gordon

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