Why is someone who is not a parent reviewing a parenting book? Great question, I would love to tell you. First of all, I love Christina Fox’s writing. Her book, A Holy Fear, was the first book I had ever reviewed for Theology Gals (link to the fb group review below). Second of all, I would actually love the ability to become a mom one day, but even if I don’t, I do have a niece and two nephews that I help babysit, as well as many other children in my life. Third of all, I just like to read lol.
If you are familiar with Elyse Myers on TikTok or Instagram, that intro might be amusingly familiar to you. But all of those things I’ve said above are true. This is actually the first parenting book I’ve read in my life, though I don’t expect it to be the last. I am part of the launch team for the book and I waited until the absolute last possible second to join because I wanted parents to have the first opportunity to join. That said, I think I might have an interesting voice to bring to the table as a nonparent, so I hope that you enjoy this review!
Background on Christina:
Christina Fox is a licensed mental health counselor, public speaker, author, wife, and mom to two teenagers. She has been on the Theology Gals podcast 7 times to talk about the books she’s written (episodes linked below). In addition to Like Our Father and A Holy Fear ($2.99 on Kindle right now, first book link), she’s written A Heart Set Free, Closer Than a Sister, Sufficient Hope, Idols for a Mother’s Heart, and two children’s books (one releasing later this year). Christina lives in the Atlanta metro area and also coordinates the counseling ministry at her local church.
This is very different from what I would expect from a parenting book; however, not particularly different from what I would expect from Christina. I say this because this book is what I would call a theology of parenting, it’s not a step by step how to guide. Like Our Father takes a look at what it means for God to be our Father and how that can inform and model parenting for us. Naturally, Christina starts off talking about the fall and what it means for us to be made in God’s image with a thorough gospel presentation. On page 25, she writes:
Just as God sent Moses to rescue His people from Pharaoh, He sent a Redeemer to rescue us from sin. Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, left the royal halls of heaven and came down to earth. He took on human flesh and fulfilled the promise God made to Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:15 to bruise the head of Satan. He came to defeat sin by living the life we could not live and dying the death we deserved. Through faith in who Jesus is and what He has done for us, we are set free from sin and are made new so that we can live our lives for the glory of God.
Christina repeats that later in the book on page 166 as a perfect chiasm (a chiasm is when a story or book starts the way it ends, a writing version of a palindrome, like the name Hannah) and reminder in the conclusion. She also elaborates on page 26:
Because we are image bearers, we image God to those around us. We reflect Him to others as we do what He does and as we display His character in our lives. And who do we see most often in our day to day life? Our children.
Like Our Father also goes beyond looking at who God is, but also looks at who we are as people and in Christ. We call God our Father because He is our Father, we are adopted into His family as His children. On page 34, Christina states it as, “Being a Christian means becoming sons and daughters of God.” This is a really important paradigm to keep in mind when we look at our own children.
One of the things I appreciate most about Like Our Father is how much Christina emphasizes a solid theological understanding of God. An example of this can be found on page 35, where she writes:
God the Father, through the life and death of the Son, and by the Spirit’s regenerating work in our hearts, adopted us as His children so that we would join in the love and fellowship the Trinity has experienced together for all eternity.
How beautiful is that statement! This is what I mean when I say this book is a theology of parenting. From this premise, we begin to look at how our children’s needs can even point us to God. One of my favorite chapters is chapter 3, God is Consistent. In this chapter, Christina talks about how important routines can be to children (something I definitely related to when I was a child and I still find comfort in routines today as an adult). But because God is consistent, this means that we can trust God and that really opened my eyes to a different way of thinking about giving children routines. A child’s desire and need for routines points to a God of order and consistency. On page 50, Christina phrases it as, “While we can never be perfectly consistent and while we will fail, intentionally or unintentionally, as God’s image bearers, we glorify Him when we create structure and order.” Yet, she doesn’t belabor this point in such a way to guilt parents for their imperfections, she constantly gives grace, later saying on page 55, “Think of consistent parenting not as a rule that is impossible to keep, but as an opportunity to show your children who God is.”
Another thing I appreciated about Like Our Father is that Christina really uses a law gospel approach to parenting. There’s definite moments of pointing to the first use of the law to remind us of God’s goodness and our sinfulness, but there’s also an aspect of the freedom we have in Christ to not take parenting standards as an additional justifying law. Additionally, Christina also gives encouragement to remember that it’s really God who changes our hearts and conforms us to Christ (which means He also does this in our children). On page 79, she states it as, “We are not only saved by His grace, we are trained by His grace.” As an outsider to the mommy wars, one thing I’ve noticed is that people tend to make their parenting preferences as the end all be all. And while yes, there’s definitely ways to do things poorly or wrong, I think that people need to have grace in some of the differences that aren’t so black and white. If you seek to glorify God with your parenting choices, you’ve already got the most important part of the battle underway.
One of the most helpful parts of the book for me to hopefully keep in mind for later is the explanation between discipline and punishment. Christina explains that discipline is training for righteousness and it’s not punitive. She also says, “This means our discipline is not about us and expressing our anger. It is not about getting even with our child” (page 106). A big takeaway is also pointing to the fact that we should show the fruit of the Spirit to our children.
Conclusions & Rating:
This book was by far my favorite book that I’ve reviewed this week. Like Our Father was accessible and approachable. It is not gender specific, so it’s something you can go through with your husband or as a small group Bible study of parents. The book is saturated with scripture and really good for new parents, seasoned parents, and even hopeful parents.
Christina’s wisdom and insightful questions would also make this helpful for those who are newer to the faith or didn’t have a solidly Christian or healthy family upbringing. On a personal note, my parents divorced when I was 5 and my husband and I have been married about 4.5 years. Over the last 4 years, I’ve been unpacking a lot of the things I unconsciously absorbed that were likely not healthy and affected my marriage. So coming to this book, I realized I probably had similar concerns with raising children. That’s part of the reason Like Our Father was highly beneficial for me. I know I don’t have perfect parents, but I do have a perfect Father in heaven and if we are blessed with children, I know that He would love them better than we do and that I can trust that He will take care of their needs as He takes care of mine. So of course, this book gets 5 stars out of 5, but also a really big thank you to Christina Fox for writing it.
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Link to Publisher: https://bit.ly/3vB57gF
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