SKU (ISBN): 9780802874764
Binding: Trade Paper
Publisher: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
What can the past teach us about what it means to be a “good” Christian parent today?
Today’s parenting guidance can sometimes feel timeless and inviolable-especially when it comes to the spiritual formation of children in Christian households. But even in the recent past, parenting philosophies have differed widely among Christians in ways that reflect the contexts from which they emerged.
In this illuminating historical study, David Setran catalogs the varying ways American Protestants envisioned the task of childrearing in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. Comparing two main historical time periods-the colonial era and the Victorian era-Setran uncovers common threads, opposing viewpoints, and the cultural and religious influences behind the dominant parenting “postures” of each era. The implications of his findings matter for today’s big questions about parenting:
*Should children be viewed as basically good, in need of protection from corruption, or as fundamentally sinful, in need of moral correction?
*How should parents address misbehavior?
Should a parent’s primary role be that of teacher, disciplinarian, or nurturer?
*What importance should be attributed to devotions and prayer, church involvement, Sabbath-keeping, home decorating, and fun family activities?
*What consideration should be given to gender? Should boys and girls be raised differently? Do mothers and fathers have essentially different responsibilities?
As he surveys these historical perspectives, Setran reflects on the legacy and future of Christian parenting, concluding that the Protestant heritage encourages the importance of intentional devotional practices, the development of close parent-child bonds, and the creation of godly household environments. In the end, he argues that all of these historical values are critical to the full expression of Christian parental love. This is a love that teaches because it wants to help children understand true goodness; that admonishes and restrains because it wants to protect children from whatever keeps them from true pleasure and joy; that fosters strong relationships so children might experience the lavishness of God’s love; that models Christlike sacrifice and guides children into the arms of their Creator.