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Parenting Is More Than a Formula Paperback – February 13, 2015
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Jim Newheiser has given us a little gem of parenting wisdom and grace in this booklet! Don't be fooled by the size, because the content is rich and radical. Jim cuts through all the fog and hype of so much of the Christian parenting materials and gets to the heart of what God's Word actually says that is sometimes less than what we parents were hoping for! Jim brings clarity to what we as parents can and should do, while cautioning us to take a step back from all the 'formulas' that too often spur us to charge in with a detailed plan to that too often nothing more than legalism and pride cloaked with a biblical veneer. Caution: Don't read this unless you want to be reminded of just how weak and dependent we are on God's grace and mercy in this whole parenting process! But remember when we are weak He is strong (2 Cor. 12:10)! -- Brad Bigney, Senior Pastor, Grace Fellowship Church, Florence, Kentucky
About the Author
Jim Newheiser (MA, DMin, Westminster Theological Seminary) is director of the Christian Counseling program and associate professor of practical theology at Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte. He a fellow of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC) and a board member of the Fellowship of Independent Reformed Evangelicals.
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In his excellent little book, Parenting Is More than a Formula, Jim Newheiser cuts through the confusion and winsomely points parents back to the gospel. After acknowledging the strengths, weaknesses, and varying results of leading “Christian formulas,” Newheiser lists important principles for discerning the good and bad of any given formula— including cautions against: being unduly persuaded by inspiring stories or by Scripture taken out-of-context, jumping on parenting bandwagons, letting other Christians impose subjective opinions, or relying on legalistic or short-sighted formulas.
Newheiser strongly warns parents against expecting guaranteed results from any formula that (at best) is not in the Bible or (at worst) conflicts with the Bible. He explains: “Deterministic parenting methodologies will ultimately fail. Parents who were proud at one point of their apparently successful efforts may be driven to despair when their children turn to the world. Children who were outwardly obedient when they were young often rebel when they reach adulthood.”
The book concludes by explaining that parenting is ultimately about gospel grace, not extrabiblical formulas. Newheiser writes with credibility (as a pastor of 25 years, as a husband of almost 40 years, as a reputable author and Christian counselor, and as a father of three adult children), but he doesn’t once depend on his credentials. Instead, he urges constant, grace-dependent reliance on God: “One of the benefits of having children is that they daily drive you to your knees as you realize your own weaknesses, sins and inability to control outcomes.”
The last few pages of the book are gold. Newheiser transparently admits:
“There is no task in life that will humble you before God more than being a parent… We have been broken by our own sins and weaknesses, often realizing that we could not measure up to what we knew we should be as parents. We have been humbled by the fact that we do not have the power to change the hearts of our sons. We have been humbled by many challenging situations in which we were not sure what we should do.
God has blessed us with several unexpected benefits along our parenting journey. He has given us a compassion for others who suffer, especially for those who grieve over lost and wayward kids. None of us has to pretend to be the perfect parent. Instead, we can openly share our struggles with one another. God has also taught us about love and grace. By loving children who have broken my heart, I have learned something of how God has graciously and sacrificially loved me, though I am completely unworthy… God has used the exposure of my weakness in parenting to drive me to seek my strength and my identity in Christ, whose grace is sufficient for me.”
“Parenting is not about following a formula to accomplish your agenda for your kids. Through your parenting experience, God is at work in your life and in the lives of your children in ways beyond your present comprehension. We are not promised a particular outcome, but we are called to honor Him by being faithful to His Word. We and our children will often fail, which will remind us that our hope is in God alone.”
Best Use of This Book:
This is one book you won’t feel bad giving to busy parents. It’s a fast, easy-read full of clarification and encouragement for overwhelmed and despairing parents. The book contains plenty of examples and interactive questions which both single parents and couples will find useful for personal reflection or discussion. This book is an ideal gift for any first-time parents in your church (especially in the nine months before the craziness starts!), but veteran parents will also be refreshed and encouraged by its clear focus on the gospel.
Reviewed at: thebookgiraffe.wordpress.com.
This is not a complete work on parenting, but more of a short pamphlet reminding parents that our goal as parents is not to be successful, but rather that our goal is to point out children to Christ. He is the only one who can change hearts.
"The important thing," writes Jay Adams, "is to always sharply distinguish God's commands from your suggestions.
"When experts teach that their particular formula is "God's way" while failing to acknowledge that other approaches may be equally valid, they create extrabiblical "law".
"Children...don't need to learn to be 'nice.' They need death and resurrection and a Savior."
"Our children can be saved only by the work of God. They cannot be saved by our good works of parenting, nor can they be saved by becoming "good kids."
A very different book than what I was expecting. This book does a lot of asking of questions regarding views and determining if something is something that is actually written in the Bible or is just based on the principles. There are a lot of book out there with great parenting information that is based on biblical principles, but is often toted by the adherents as the "only way." This is a helpful tool to evaluate your thoughts and actions in regards to different methodologies even in regards to education. We often think that how we do something is best, that it is the only way.
It was fun to see different books that I've read mentioned, even if not in name, but by the method. Some of them were good books with good advice; some not so much. The authors point is to not make your style "law" when it may not work for every family or even for every child in a family.
A good read overall just to reevaluate what you are doing. There is some sections of application and advice, but it isn't a long section. A quick read if you don't answer the questions every few pages or so, but if you are doing more than reviewing the book, as I am, then you will need more time. A book that makes you think! Always a good thing, as we can get comfortable in how we are doing life.
Reviewed in exchange for book
The first impresion you get when you start reading this book is - ohhh great this guy just took the whole Livrare of professional books and trashed them! Well let me tell you that is not the goal of this book, i should say, the author of this book challenges all the formulas drilled into us parents with its emphasis on the fact that there are no two people alike and no two families alike so you cant just take something out of context and plow it all over the poor parents. It creates a lot of undue failure and guilt. This book challenges us parents to study our children's uniqueness and study the bible deeply and apply it into their lives in their unique way. This book is full of honest encouragement and realistic free of quilt guidance. This should be your first choice parenting book.
Disclaimer: I have received a free copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.