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‘Parenting the Wholehearted Child’ by Jeannie Cunnion image

‘Parenting the Wholehearted Child’ by Jeannie Cunnion

'If I was to write a parenting book, this could well be the one I’d want to write...'

If I was to write a parenting book, this could well be the one I’d want to write. It drives you back to the grace of God. Not because we have mastered doing so, in any sense, but because it’s what I want to aim for. I want grace to infuse our lives, our parenting, our conversations, and our day-to-day interactions.  

Cunnion starts with a reminder that we need the grace of God at the forefront of our own lives and understanding, which ultimately drives our parenting. We must see ourselves as beloved children of God, and remember that Jesus loves our children more than we do. We’re not perfect, but we’re saved by grace—and this must impact the way we teach and care for our children.

In Part 2 Cunnion looks at what a true friendship with Jesus will look like. These are all the things you already know about: Bible reading, Scripture memorisation, prayer, church and community service.  But Cunnion removes the guilt from all these things, so you aren’t weighed down thinking “I know we should do this”, but rather, you’re reminded of the joy of being able to do it, and the benefit that each practice brings.  

Part 3 takes you through what the fruit of grace can look like in a family. She has named six values their family has decided to take as their own: respect, self-control, kindness, thankfulness, peace-making and honesty.  Again, she’s infused this section with the grace to say that we’re not perfect, only Jesus is perfect—so let’s help our kids to aim to be like Jesus, with joy not with drudgery.

Finally, Part 4 turns to more ‘parenting’ topics like obedience, training, discipline and forgiveness and repentance, and how we can model them and teach them. All very helpful.

I know many people are overwhelmed by parenting books—because I am too! There’s so much to be challenged by, so many areas to think about and address.

But never let that stop you challenging yourself to keep living with grace, and extending grace to your children. If you need to pace yourself to slow down the onslaught of ideas and challenges, read one chapter a day, or even one a week. Pick 2-3 things you want to concentrate on for a term, or a season.

Parenting the Wholehearted Child is aimed at parents of younger children (0-10s).  While it can still be applied to older children, her illustrations and examples are mainly for pre-schoolers and the early years of primary school. For those still hanging in there with younger ones, this book is well worth reading.  


Wendy & her husband (with their three lovely teen/tweens) are in full-time ministry in Adelaide, involved with university students, and marriage and parenting ministries. Wendy reviews books and blogs at musingsinadelaide.blogspot.com.au.

Ben White

Order your copy of Parenting the Wholehearted Child at The Wandering Bookseller.

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