Review: ‘Families in God’s Plan’ by Harriet Connor

1 March 2022

4.1 MINS

“Families in God’s Plan” is a Biblically-centred book that traces God’s purpose for families in His heavenly plan of salvation. It contains honest, down-to-earth wisdom and practical advice.

I used to think I was a patient, long-suffering, gracious person.

And then I became a parent. 

Parenting is undoubtedly one of life’s greatest joys, but it’s also one of life’s greatest frustrations. It’s a God-given cure to any belief that we’re perfect or have it all together. Sure, there are many times of celebration (‘my child is becoming less selfish’), but there are many, many times of frustration (‘why can’t my kids do what I tell them when I tell them?’) and even sadness (‘my teen doesn’t want anything to do with God’).

So what does God have to say about this important responsibility? What can we glean from His Word?

As it turns out, a lot.

Australian author Harriet Connor opens up God’s Word in her new set of Bible Studies, ‘Families in God’s Plan’. 

What is it?

Families in God’s Plan is a series of 12 Bible studies, which apply the Bible to the issue of parenting from key turning points in the Bible’s storyline. Each study takes around 45 minutes and can be done as an individual, a couple, or a small group.

What’s the Aim of ‘Families in God’s Plan’?

While there are many parenting books out there giving practical tips and frameworks for parenting, Families in God’s Plan has a much bigger goal, as Connor explains:

‘To properly understand how families fit into God’s plan, we need to be able to answer the question: ‘Where are we?’ This question has many answers that are all true at the same time… When it comes to our place in God’s story, we are simultaneously living:

  • in creation
  • in a fallen world
  • in the line of Abraham
  • on the foundation of God’s law
  • in God’s family
  • in the light of eternity. (p. 3)

If we understand how the key turning points of the Bible’s storyline apply to us and our parenting, we’ll have a better understanding of what God wants for our families.

What I loved about ‘Families in God’s Plan’

There are many things I loved about this resource:

1) It applies the Bible well to the topic of parenting

Many Christian parenting books give great wisdom, but leave us wondering about God’s Big Purposes for raising the next generation.

At worst, some other parenting books cherry-pick Bible verses to back up the author’s view of parenting. But Connor’s use of the Bible’s storyline means we get a more rounded, Biblical understanding of God’s purposes for parenting than many other books.

The 12 studies unpack God’s plan for parenting by tracking the Bible’s storyline, as follows:

  1. Families in God’s creation: Made in God’s image
  2. Families in God’s creation: Made male and female
  3. Families in a fallen world: Sin, judgement and hope
  4. Families in a fallen world: Taking refuge under God’s wings
  5. Families in the line of Abraham: Passing on covenant faith
  6. Families in the line of Abraham: Overcoming the legacy of sin
  7. Families founded on God’s law: Loving God and neighbour
  8. Families founded on God’s law: Growing in wisdom
  9. Families in the family of God: United to God’s Son
  10. Families in the family of God: Belonging to the Church
  11. Families in the light of eternity: Gospel co-workers
  12. Families in the light of eternity: Symbols of a heavenly reality

2) It helps me keep the Big Purposes of God in mind

Knowing God’s purposes for parenting helps me stay focused amid tantrums, tiredness and tears (including from my kids).

With a strong enough ‘why’, we can persist even in the face of setbacks and difficulty. Conor’s book provides us with God’s ‘Why’ (and what) of Parenting.

3) I felt a healthy mixture of encouragement and challenge

It doesn’t take much to make a parent feel guilty — especially a Christian parent.

There are many ways to screw up our kids if we’re not careful, we’re told, so many parenting books happily give us 10 ways to raise outstanding children. Just follow these 10 steps, and you’ll have resilient, happy, and self-directed kids. But like new year’s resolutions that fail after January 3rd, we can feel burdened by our failure to live up to some expert’s parenting standard.

Thankfully, Connor’s book is not like that.

She’s refreshingly honest about the challenges of parenting in our broken world:

‘Raising children in a fallen world confronts us with our human limitations — we’re not perfect, we’re not strong, we’re not in control and, if we’re honest, we don’t really know what we’re doing. (p. 11)

(There’s a nice dose of realism!)

And yet, Families in God’s World doesn’t leave us there: we also see how God is redeeming us through His Son to live out a new type of life through our families (studies 5-6, 9-12).

Knowing that parenting is at once painful but purposeful gives us the fuel to propel us onward amid its joys and challenges.

4) It gives time-tested, practical tips

While the studies give us the Bible’s ‘big picture’ purposes for Christian parenting, they don’t stop there.

Connor shares her wisdom as a parent in applying the Bible’s design for families to our families. She includes things such as:

  • Preparing children for real life in this fallen by allowing them to experience doses of setbacks and frustration now (helicopter parents, listen in);
  • Incorporating prayer into our daily routine;
  • Practical steps for disciplining our kids.
  • (And much more)

These are included in the ‘Parents’ talking point’ sections, encouraging husbands and wives to talk about these issues.

5) The format encourages discussion between husbands and wives

It’s easier to talk about important topics like parenting when you have a guide.

Families in God’s Plan is designed to be that guide, ensuring you and your spouse both land on God’s design for your parenting — and then providing specific questions to work out the practical aspects of your parenting. Overall, Families in God’s Plan is a timely series of studies that helps parents steer their families in a God-ward direction.

Even though the tears and tantrums.


Originally published at AkosBalogh.com. Photo by Harrison Haines from Pexels.

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