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Raising confident kids in a confusing world image

Raising confident kids in a confusing world

Ed Drew's new book tackles tricky topics.

As they grow up, every child asks the question ‘Who am I?’. But where will they look for answers? The world around us calls loudly, telling our children how to view themselves and how to live their ‘best life’. It tells them to look within for answers. But with no solid ground to stand on, many children and young people are drifting into confusion.

As Christian parents, we worry that our children will get carried along and confused by the destructive trends of our times. We wonder how we can raise children who have a secure identity founded on Christ and the confidence to live accordingly, even if the world disapproves.

An encouraging voice

It is for parents like us that Ed Drew has written a new book, Raising Confident Kids in a Confusing World. Ed Drew reassures Christian parents that in the gospel of Jesus, we already have all the resources we need to give our children a positive, realistic and resilient view of themselves.

Ed Drew is a seasoned kids’ minister, father-of-three and Director of UK ministry ‘Faith in Kids’. His writing is warm, conversational, honest, funny and full of stories of real parents and real children who are persevering in the gospel in the midst of life’s challenges. As you read, you can hear Ed’s voice reminding you of the precious truths of the gospel and encouraging you, from one imperfect parent to another.

Gospel foundations

Raising Confident Kids in a Confusing World begins with the gospel truths that provide a solid basis for our children’s identity. You may feel impatient to get to the ‘hot topics’ of the later chapters, but it’s important to stop and lay this foundation. Ed brings to life a number of Bible stories to convince us—and therefore our children—that we can say with confidence:
I am precious.
I am forgiven.
I can change.
I know what to do when I’m not OK.
I am wonderfully made.

While these are truths that every Christian should already know, Ed Drew manages to communicate them in a fresh, engaging and persuasive way that connects with both head and heart.

I can change

For me, the most powerful of these chapters was about the certainty of progress for the Christian parent and child. The chapter begins with Jesus’ simple statement that ‘No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit’ (Luke 6:43).

But if we want our children (and ourselves) to bear good fruit, how do we go about changing the heart? The answer is that we cannot change it, but God can. Ed writes:

‘The Spirit is doing a slow, steady work in all Christians to make us more like Christ (Galatians 5:16–24). This is why the Bible repeatedly uses the illustration of fruit. Growth is often discouragingly slow, taking years before there is a harvest, but it is real growth.’ (p. 73)

Ed goes on to talk about the kind of heart-changing conversations that parents can have with their children (‘talking about the walk’), and about the vital role that our wider church family plays in our children’s discipleship. He encourages parents to focus on sharing the gospel of forgiveness with our children, rather than raising ‘little Pharisees who behave well, especially when others are watching’ (p. 85). He finishes with the encouragement: ‘Don’t forget that with the Lord, change is inevitable. And it’s the heart where the Lord goes to work’ (p. 87).

Parents are the front line

Raising Confident Kids in a Confusing World goes on to address the topics that modern parents are really struggling with: bodies, sex, sexuality and gender. He has obviously done a great deal of background reading and interviewed numerous experts in the field, but the end result is not long or complicated. Ed emphasises that we parents are the best people to talk with our children about these hot topics and we are well-equipped with the Bible’s foundational truths.

Ed voices the awkwardness that most of us feel:

‘I would happily go through my whole life without discussing some (or all) of those topics. But I am a Christian parent, so I must not allow my children’s school or friends or favoured social-media influencers to tell them what they need to understand to live a flourishing life’ (p. 108).

It’s not surprising that Ed Drew quotes from our very own Patricia Weerakoon’s book Talking Sex by the Book which was written to help parents to step up and have those important conversations. Ed concludes: ‘Our homes need to be places where our children can work these things out safely, admit to anything, ask every question without criticism or fear, and hear truth graciously explained.’ (p. 129)

Bodies and sexuality

To describe our bodies, Ed Drew uses the beautiful image (drawn from Psalm 139) of a hand-knitted jumper:

‘Our bodies are each a unique work of craftsmanship. Every detail has been chosen to be just that way, matched exactly with our needs, given by the one who loves us most. You are not a shiny mass-produced piece of technology. You were knitted together, personally and uniquely, by a loving Creator. So were your children.’ (p. 112)

From there Ed goes on to address questions of sexuality and gender. As a counterbalance to the sexualised culture our children are growing up in, he reminds us of the importance of godly friendships, the value of singleness and the fact that God’s ways are good for everyone:

‘You cannot control your children’s sexuality. You cannot determine if they will spend their lives married or single. You can teach your children about the goodness of God, the truthfulness of his word, and the goodness of both marriage and singleness … Worrying about whether they will be same-sex-attracted, or whether they will get married, or whether they’ll have kids might be a sign that we’re more concerned with their worldly happiness and our worldly dreams … than with the eternal health of their souls.’ (pp. 142-3)

Ed helpfully explains from the Bible that God designed marriage between a man and woman to point us to his love for us. However, he falls short of explaining the implications of this for the creation and raising of children. A healthy marriage is also God’s good gift to give children the stability and daily parental involvement—of both sexes—that they need for their optimal development. Our children are growing up in a world that says two men or two women (or just one of them!) can ‘make’ a baby. It may have been helpful to address this topic.

Sex and gender

On this timely topic, Ed Drew lays some very important foundations from God’s word. He urges us not to funnel our children into narrow gender stereotypes, but also acknowledges that there are some general differences we can observe between most boys and girls, men and women, mothers and fathers. This is a helpful approach: we should be free to observe general tendencies about men and women without turning them into prescriptive ‘shoulds’ for every man or woman, boy or girl.

Ed avoids the topics of gender roles in marriage and the church, claiming that they are irrelevant for a conversation about boys and girls. This may disappoint some, and is perhaps naïve, since the way we live out our gender roles in the home will impact our children’s view of gender more than anything else. Some would argue that our general gender differences are indeed geared towards certain roles in the family and wider society. But Ed’s more cautious approach does leave room for parents to explain gender roles according to their own convictions.

Ed Drew brings an informed Christian perspective to the issue of gender identity and gender incongruence. His critique of the prevailing narrative about gender is based on both science and biblical truth. He quickly gets to the heart of the matter: teenagers, especially girls, who are uncomfortable with their bodies.

Bring it all to Jesus

The beauty of Raising Confident Kids in a Confusing World is that it will stoke the flames of your own faith and reassure you that you already have all you need for raising children in these challenging times. Throughout the book, Ed keeps bringing us back to Jesus:

‘It is tempting to place issues like sexuality and gender into a box marked, “Frightening. New. Jesus Christ can’t help”. Instead, we can be certain that, as with all issues, Jesus Christ is enough for us, that the Bible offers us all the wisdom we need, and that his Spirit is at work as we listen, pray and talk through the concerns. We know our children best, so we are the right people to navigate through this with them.’ (p. 157)

I highly recommend this encouraging and equipping read!


Talking Sex by the Book

Every parent faces the need to talk to their child about sex at one point or another. With so many complex questions and scenarios confronting today’s children, these conversations are becoming more and more crucial.

Read more

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