I've got nothing against Christians. At least, not the ones that have nothing against me or other religious, sexual, racial, gender, and other types of minorities. But the minute you start using your religion as an excuse for bigotry or intolerance, you and I will have words- pointy, spikey words.
The reason that I am not down with this book is not because the book talks about parenting from another religious perspective. I have no issue with that and feel that I have something to learn from all faiths. (I recently reviewed a Jewish parenting book favorably, and have several Buddhist and another Christian book in the review queue. All of them are scoring more hats than this one.)
So what's the problem? I dislike intensely when people write about Christianity like its a persecuted minority in this country. For the record, it's not. The culture wars that are evoked so often by evangelicals are just ways to get their followers (be they book buyers or parishoners) whipped into a frenzy so that they identify with a message, buy more stuff, and be easily manipulated. Those messages tend to be exclusive and bigoted and often exclude others (take for instance, the "happy holidays" crisis of 2005 onward).
And there are some things of value, hidden among the hard-line bible thumping. (He appears to be a literalist when it comes to scripture, and I wonder what he thinks of say... witches and homosexuals. His book does not directly address these issues (it seems to me, as a minority reading the book, to be the elephant in the room). But he does explicitly state in the "Freedom To Be Different" chapter, "Since being misunderstood is an occupational hazard for Christian writers, I need to qualify what I don't mean here (in allowing your children to be "different"). I'm not saying that grace based homes should tolerate sin, evil, or anything that goes contrary to clearly held precepts in the Bible." So I'm left to infer that allowing his son to bleach his hair is fine (which was the illustrative example), but if his son were gay, it would not be fine.
To his credit, he does talk about how many parents get it wrong- he calls them Judgmental Parents or Legalistic Parents. These are the parents that think it is their role to judge others (including their children) or the ones that assure that everyone in their family is following the letter of the Bible (the Legalistic Parents). Instead of these tired models, he calls for Grace Based Parents: who believe in God's grace and gifts to us, humankind. I can get behind that message, even if we disagree on the nature of God Herself.
Grace Based Parenting is a premise I like, especially when he talks about relying on grace when our children are hardest to love. Or living with gratitude. All things that I like. If only he were that open and grace filled when it came to all the non-Christians and queers on the planet.
To figure out where this guy is really coming from, I visited his website (he has a ministry focused around families and heterosexual Christian couples and again, NOTHING was written about gays and lesbians, but evidentally so-called "cross-dressing" is bad:
"For instance, your daughter wants to wear her hair in a crew cut and dress like a man...You would find the Bible frowning on such a request. What about the issue of morality? What if your daughter wants to dress like Madonna or one of the Spice Girls? The Bible has a great deal to say about modesty, which would veto her request."- from the Family Matters Ministries website.In the end, I can't really recommend this book to my readers. It is too closed minded and does not pass muster on some of the harder parenting questions of our age.
Formal Rating:Title: Grace Based Parenting, Set Your Family Free
Author: Dr. Tim Kimmel
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Price: $14.99 USD
Topics Covered: Parenting, Religion (Evangelical Christianity)
Target Audience: Heterosexual, Evangelical, Christian Parents and Families
Witch Mom Rating: Half a Hat
My readers (whom I believe to be like me, working on cultivating personal ethics and discernment in their children (as opposed to having their children adhere to a set of prescribed morals) will probably not get much out of this book.