Rev. Brad Heinrichs’s latest book will be a useful addition to any New Church parent’s reading list. I was especially drawn to the subtitle: “Parenting Principles from the Word: Passing Your Faith to Your Children.” As a mother of four young children growing up quickly, this is something I think about often. Am I doing enough to introduce my kids to the habits and practices which will serve as a spiritual foundation in adulthood?
Rev. Heinrichs, a husband and father of a large family, says people often ask him what the secret is to raising children who grow to love the Lord and His Word. As he sets out to answer this question, he notes that the first state of the church as described in Coronis is the appearance of the Lord and then a calling and covenanting. Instruction and introduction to the church make up the second state (47-52). With this in mind, he encourages parents to repeatedly call their children to the church and to remind them of the Lord’s covenant, just as the Lord called Abram, Moses and Joshua.
To this end, Rev. Heinrichs offers twenty principles drawn from the Word. Some are simple: remember the Sabbath, teach the Commandments, and work together as a family. Others are more challenging or less obvious: help children decide who they want to be, challenge “wild asses” to compel themselves, and encourage them to persevere. He elaborates on each point and offers supporting passages from the Word.
I appreciated Rev. Heinrichs’s encouraging, often humorous attitude toward his subject matter and am excited to incorporate his suggestions in my own family life. I also appreciated his acknowledgement that children grow into adults with free will; parents can do their best, and sometimes their adult children will make poor choices. He writes,
“I want to add a word of caution here for parents reading this book who might be inclined to beat themselves up and think that they must not have done all the right things since some of their children may not be actively involved in the Church. . . . [Y]our child still might choose to reject the values and beliefs that you treasure.” (197)
For me, this book was a lovely call to action, offering ways of turning the title, taken from Joshua 24:15, from a declaration to a daily practice with the Lord’s help.