Raising Confident Kids by Ed Drew

A Book Review by Cat Brooks

I knew I was going to love Ed Drew’s book when the first chapter was entitled, ‘This is me.’ If you haven’t had to sit through your kids singing that song from the Greatest Showman with gusto in a school assembly, then you can thank the Lord for that. They are indeed a generation of kids who are marching to the beat of their own drum – and it is a chaotic mess of carnage.

I know you probably don’t want to think about this, but our children are growing up in a culture of ‘expressive individualism.’ As Carl Trueman writes in his book, ‘Strange New World’:

“Yes, we are wealthier and healthier than our ancestors.. but we do not know who we are anymore…[and] freedom without belonging is a grim burden to bear.”

Carl Trueman

The children of Western culture are lost at sea. They don’t know who they are. They’re free to choose everything, and they’re miserable. Their culture doesn’t have the assumptions I had when I was their age. I knew I was a girl; I even thought I was made by God. I knew I was significant but not the centre of the universe. I knew my feelings mattered but they weren’t Truth. Not so with children today – so I need to help my own children navigate these waters.

What joy to know, against this dark backdrop, the truth about what it is to be human. As Christians, we know who we are! We have a true ‘doctrine of the self.’ And we need to teach it to our children.

If you don’t teach your children who they are and why they’re here, somebody else will. That’s why we need Ed Drew’s book.  It’s a parenting book about how our identity in Christ affects everything. Our view of who we are affects how we teach our kids, how we love them, how we discipline them, and – yes – how we talk to them about sex. Which we really, really must do.

This is a helpful parenting book which gives you principles but not a 17-point sermon that you must preach every time your child whacks her brother. It’s simple, profound and encouraging. The chapters are short. Ed is humble and he tells very, very funny stories. If you’ve listened to the Faith in Kids podcast (which I heartily suggest you do), you will know the tone of this book. Ed is parenting on his knees in prayer, and he suggests we do that too.

This is great news because when you’re tired, and you’ve got a young child who needs the ‘body parts’ talk and a teenager who is being bombarded with gender fluidity via their phone and their classmates, what you might find helpful is a book by a guru who has never made any mistakes and never cries in the bathroom. You might find it helpful, but it might make you feel more of a failure, and it might leave you with a nagging voice in your head next time things go pear-shaped at dinner.

What would be even better than a book by a guru with the 17-point sermon is a book by an ordinary dad who really knows his stuff but also talks to enough parents to know that kids are different, parents struggle and life can be messy. Even better if this guy also knows some funny stories to make you chuckle. Laughter is such a good gift.

I had my eldest 13 years ago, and since then the parenting pendulum has swung. I do worry about people – Christian parents – who seem to want to let their children be the centre the universe. Friends, we need this book. In Ed’s chapter, ‘You can change,’ he explains that we can parent for good behaviour or we can parent for good fruit. It’s so encouraging! (I say this as someone who’s children still cannot sit still in church.) We need reminding of these things.

He guides us through how to manage when your children are sad. (Some books I’ve read seem to deny that this will ever happen.) And yes, he also gives us advice about the sex and gender conversation. I will finish with a quote from his chapter on ‘I am Forgiven’, which taught me that my home can – and should – (and can!) be a place filled with God’s shalom. “Beauty and deep breaths.” Yes please, Lord!

‘The “gospel” of the Western world tells our kids that their biggest problem is not following their desires, that their biggest failure would be not following their heart or fulfilling their potential, or preventing someone else from following theirs; and that they will find freedom by ignoring any sense of guilt and find themselves by looking within… Our task is to root our kids in the gospel that is not only true but better.’ p. 56-57.

Ed Drew (p56-57)

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