Customer Reviews: Peacemaking for Families (Focus on the Family)
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on May 19, 2004
The goal of this book is to awaken the reader's perspective of conflict as an opportunity to glorify God by seeking understanding and forgiveness. Ken Sande provides excellent life stories to illustrate the real struggles we face in relationships. He then seeks the Biblical answer to resolving the breakdown in those relationships. Each part ends with an "As You Grow" section that helps to bring the study into your own life.
Part 1 reviews the common responses to conflict using the slippery slope of Peacmakers. He then shows that conflict can arise out of idols that we have established in our lives including an excellent examen of conscience that reveals that sin of idolatry. He then reviews the basic goals and pattern for resolving conflict.
Part 2 explores the four vital aspects of a peacemaking marriage. Confession removes our old hackneyed and easy ways we confess "I'm sorry" and replaces it with a thorough and God pleasing confession. Confrontation walks through the most avoided but needed part of relationships. The section on listening is excellent. Wise words shows how cautious we need to be as healers. Forgiveness is the heart of this book for me. It points out that forgiving is not a feeling it is a choice and requires us to make for promises - not to dwell on it, not to use it against them, not to talk with others, not to allow it to be a barrier. The Young Peacemakers says it - Good thought, hurt you not, gossip never, friends forever. In fact in forgiveness we replace those negative and forgiven hurts with positive ones. Negotiation occurs when substantive issues needs to be worked out in a setting that is safe and seeks compromise and satisfaction between spouses.
Part 3 begins to apply the principles laid out in the book. The first sections focuses on how to teach the principles to your children seeking teachable moments and leading by example. Chapter 9 and 10 gives life story examples of how conflict can be resolves with a child or an adult.
Part 4 gives some warning signs to look for to diagnose a troubled marriage. He then helps to understand the difficulties of both parties going to counseling and how to use negotiation to approach the obstacles to that end. I found this section very insightful and right on with me and the marriages I've seen. He then makes a plead to churches to be involved in a failing marriage, to use discipline when necessary. Finally the author closes with the preventative "insurance" policies to support a strong marriage.
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on January 25, 2012
When sinners come into contact with each other, it is only a matter of time before conflict arises. Nowhere is this more apparent than within family life. Two sinners come together under one roof as husband and wife, and soon additional sinners enter the picture in the form of children. Before long, the home is crowded with sinners constantly interacting with each other, which inevitably creates conflict. If a family is to continue to love one another, they must be able to successfully manage these conflicts as they arise. To this end, Ken Sande's book Peacemaking for Families: A Biblical Gide to Managing Conflict in Your Home was written to provide families with tools specifically geared toward managing conflicts within the home.

There were several aspects of Sande's book that were very helpful. The greatest strength of his work was that Sande's grounded all of his practical advice for managing conflict firmly in the gospel. While there is no shortage of Christian books on the topic of conflict management, many of these works build their arguments using proof-texts about peacemaking rather than grounding their arguments within the metanarrative of Scripture. Their arguments tend to follow the following pattern: Christians should obey the Bible, and the Bible says to be a peacemaker, therefore Christians should be peacemakers. These books turn to verses such as Matt. 5:9 or Rom 12:18 to convince or encourage Christians to behave in this manner. Although there is no doubt that Christians should obey these passages, this line of reasoning runs the danger of ultimately making a believer's obedience man-centered rather than God-centered. By grounding his argument in the gospel, Sande is able to present the biblical commands regarding this subject in a way that is focused at its root on Christ and his peacemaking work that was accomplished at the cross. Why does God command his people to be peacemakers? He does so because God himself is a peacemaker and he wants his people's character to reflect his own. Although the practical techniques between the two approaches may be the exact same, the rationale for obedience is significantly different. One method asks for obedience in response to a command, while the other asks Christians to obey out of a response for what has been done for them. In a culture where legalism and moralism are ever-present dangers within many churches, this distinction is subtle yet critically important.

Another strength of the book is the "As You Grow" section at the conclusion of every chapter. These sections provide immensely practical and helpful material for furthering one's understanding of how the chapter applies to real situations in the reader's life. This section takes the material from the chapter and puts it into questions that the reader is then encouraged to ask of himself or of a conflict he is currently engaged in. This both reinforces the truths from the text as well as helps to make the transition from concepts and tools to real world application. It also serves to provide a reminder over the material that was covered in the chapter that can be valuable as people use this book as a tool for helping them to manage conflicts that arise in their lives later. Every reader knows the frustration of reading a good book and desiring to go back to it after a time to remind themselves of some item in the text, only to spend a great deal of time flipping through pages attempting to locate the desired passage.

Someone might read this book, benefit from it, and sincerely desire to put many of its techniques into practice in his own life. However, when the next conflict arises in his home, enough time has passed that he does not remember exactly the techniques and truths that were contained within the book. Instead of having to flip through a few hundred pages of text to try and find what he needs for the moment, these sections allow him to turn to the last page of every chapter and read these questions to both remind himself of the material as well as apply it directly to his current situation. If he still needs additional information, he can then turn to the specific passage within a chapter to read a more extensive explanation, but the overall time spent looking through the book has been cut down considerably. For a book designed to be helpful in tense situations where time could be a factor, this is very helpful.
One aspect of Peacemaking for Families that could have been improved is Sande's discussion over how to handle conflicts that originate from disagreements rather than sin. In the chapter on negotiation, Sande acknowledges that there are some conflicts within the home that are of this nature. He also wisely notes that these conflicts often start innocently but become sinful through "careless words, critical judgments, hurt feelings, and a lingering sense of bitterness and resentment" (95). To deal with this type of conflict, he gives five steps for negotiating a solution that can help resolve the conflict in a mutually satisfactory way. While this is helpful, it provides no assistance in resolving conflicts in which compromise is not an option. For instance, say that a conflict arises between a couple where the husband feels that God is leading them to move to St. Louis while the wife believes God is leading them to live in Oklahoma City. Assuming that their intentions are free from selfishness, how would negotiation help in this situation? If the wife compromises because her husband offers to let her choose where they will vacation, it would seem as though she may be sinning against her conscious. Nor could they compromise and to move to Kansas City as a middle ground. Negotiation is not helpful here. While this example may be contrived, similar situations are within the realm of possibility and Sande gives readers no other tools for resolving them. Luckily, however, God has provided for conflict resolution within the home in such scenarios by establishing authority structures with the husband charged with headship. Sande's work would have been improved if this biblical reality had been acknowledged and commented upon at some level.

Peacemaking for Families is a useful resource for helping Christians to understand how the gospel motivates and equips Christians to be peacemakers within their homes. It helps readers recognize that conflicts often arise as a result of one's idols and that the cure for this is not trying harder to be peaceable, but rather reordering one's desires around the worship of God. It also provides practical suggestions for managing and overcoming the conflicts that are inevitable when sinners come together in a family. While Sande's work has a significant shortcoming when it considers resolving conflicts not birthed out of sin, for the most part it is a valuable tool that can help Christians to do all they can to fulfill Paul's exhortation to be at peace with all men (Rom 12:18).
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on May 7, 2007
I was very disappointed in this book. The first half of the book was almost a verbatim reproduction of The Peacemaker. The second half of the book is a repeat of the initial repeat in the first half of the book but directed at dealing with children. There is no new information simply a change in wording that says the samething Ken Sande said in the Peacemaker and also in the first half of this book. The only hope for this book were the last two chapters that dealt with when your marriage gets in trouble and steps to protect your marriage. Both chapters were very vague and not very helpful. The author did say it was not his purpose to deal with marriage. However, my question is if that was not his intention why did he include a whole chapter on it? My recommendation is buy The Peacemaker and you do not need to waste your money on this book. It promises much and delivers very little.
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on October 5, 2008
I teach a Marriage and the Family class at a Bible college and I am planning on making this book required reading next year. I have already begun to implement the principles in my own marriage and it is truly transformational. My husband's biggest complaint is that I don't "listen" and I could never pinpoint what it was that gave him that impression. This book definitely clarified how to listen, and how to make a wise appeal (without coming across as challenging and opinionated). The stories he uses to illustrate really help make the principles concrete. Nobody ever gets formal instruction in regards to communication, confrontation, listening, and conflict resolution so people are just left to follow the "monkey see-monkey do" approach...hence the major dysfunction apparent everywhere. If everyone read this book and applied it, we'd have a totally different world. Best of all Christians could actually claim the promise of God's blessings upon themselves as peacemakers - for they shall be called the children of God (Matthew 5:9).
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on January 25, 2013
I borrowed this book from the library, expecting it to be filled with practical applications of Ken Sande's original "The Peacemaker" resource. I was disappointed to see that it contains the key concepts from the original book, with lesser detail, and only brief applications to marriage and children. If what you are looking for is a synopsis of "The Peacemaker" specifically directed at the area of family conflict, then it is a good read. However, if you are looking to apply the conflict resolution methods more broadly, and desire a more in-depth explanation, then read the original. It goes into the concepts of conflict resolution (slippery slope, the 4 G's, 7 A's to confession, PAUSE) in greater detail and the reflection questions are thoughtful and pointed.
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on March 28, 2014
Really liked this book and the only reason I didn't give it an excellent rating is because I found it became a bit redundant toward the end. There is one excellent quote that has stayed with me for months that describes this book in a sentence...."God is eager to display the wonders of the Gospel in the midst of our marital and family conflicts so that He can reveal the Life-changing power of His Son, Jesus Christ." I have used that quote serval times, giving Ken Sande credit (!), but I omit 'marital and family' and add suffering to the conflict section of that phenomenal statement.
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on July 2, 2013
See my review of The Peacemaker, the foundation book in this series. Sometimes people need a scenario-specific application to relate the Peacemaker principles to their own situations. This does it for family conflicts.
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on January 9, 2014
I like this book because it gives a practical approach to handling all different types of conflict within families - conflicts between husband and wife, parent and child, parent and adult child, siblings, etc. Although the examples given are geared specifically toware family conflicts, the guidelines are based on biblical principles and can be used in any conflict situation. The author gives many examples of family conflicts resolved and relationships restored. I found it to be both encouraging and helpful.
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on December 13, 2012
Peacemaker Ministries has hit another home run with this book. Taking the basic, biblical principles from The Peacemaker by Ken Sande, they have adapted them to application within a family setting.Good job, Peacemaker Ministries! In addition, being a pastor, I decided to use this book as a tool for premarital counseling with a young couple. It replaced a previous book on communication. I told them to not study the sections pertaining to children, but to read the sections for the married couple. Feedback from the couple is that this was one of the most helpful things that I used with them as they prepared for marriage.
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on December 3, 2015
These books every family should own & even though I am not in favor of books men write to say what God has said, these are a great reminder of putting into practice great biblical principles. A few cautions are his slants towards misunderstandings of scriptures, but overall a very good read & I am handing them out to others who need to make peace in their families!!
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