A Checklist for Parents (Book Review)

A Checklist for Parents (book cover)As the firstborn Forster child, I’ve experienced the child end (you can call me one of the guinea-pigs) of most of Doorposts’ materials.

That’s truly been a great experience, but now that I’m married with two children, I’ve reached the point where I get to start using Doorposts materials as a parent. (Not to imply that being the parent is easier, by any means!) I praise God for the heritage and the tools my parents have prepared for me in this area!

This book is one of the first that I’ve been using. Even though one daughter is age two, and the other is ten months, I’m finding that most of A Checklist for Parents has application for me and my wife right now in our parenting.

I also figured this is a good time to post the review, since you can get the book free right now with any order on the Doorposts website!

Anyway, here’s my review…

What you should expect:

The purpose of the book is to help parents evaluate their parenting in light of God’s Word. It’s a short booklet, with just twenty pages, and it covers six different parental responsibilities found in the Bible:

  1. Love
  2. Prayer
  3. Instruction
  4. Protection
  5. Provision
  6. Example

Each of these topics takes 1-4 pages, with anywhere between 1 and 11 self-examination questions for you as the parent. Each question is followed by one or more Bible verses. I read through the whole book in about 10 minutes.

The word “checklist” gives me the impression of a list I can check off once and be done, but this checklist isn’t like that. Most of these duties will be mine for the rest of my life, and I’ll probably keep coming back to this book to refocus and evaluate.

What I liked about the book:

I like how the questions make me think, and how they apply biblical principles to parenting in very specific ways. The verses supply biblical principles in support, which remind me what God expects, and why the duty is important.

The chapter topics and questions are based solidly on what Scripture says to people in positions of authority. These aren’t questions written by a psychologist, with Bible verses tacked on to make them Christian.

It’s thin enough to keep tucked in my Bible, so I remember to use it.

The questions are simple, but thorough. I was challenged by one or more of the questions in every section. The book is short, but if it was much longer, it would have been overwhelming.

What I didn’t like about the book:

What? You mean I’m supposed to critique my Mom’s book?

Actually, I did find a couple questions that I wished were expanded a little more. Some questions could have been broken up into three or four separate questions, with more specific supporting Scriptures. That would make it easier to work on the problem areas and check off the okay ones.

What I learned from the book:

Because I’ve grown up Christian, and because I’ve been handling, reading, and helping publish biblical parenting books for most of my life, I sometimes fall into the trap of thinking that I’ll naturally do a great job of parenting, and that it won’t be that hard.

But I didn’t learn everything by osmosis while stuffing charts into bags, or while wrapping books up for mailing. Having good parents doesn’t mean I will automatically be a good parent.

The truth is, I still need God’s grace for parenting, and I still have lots to learn. I still have lots of sanctification ahead of me. God has blessed me with a godly heritage, and with godly friends and family around me who will help (along with some great parenting books). But it will still be a lot of work.

The first question in the “Provision” section gave me something to think about:

“Was I faithful in working to provide for the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs of my child?”

When I think of provision, the first thing that pops into my head is bringing home a paycheck. That’s right, it’s my job to make sure we have food, a house, clothes, toys, etc. I can do that, right? But physical provision is only part of it.

This question made me stop and think. How do I provide for the mental needs of my children? Maybe I should talk with them more, or plan more experiences that will help their minds develop, even at their young ages.

Meeting emotional needs mostly means giving my girls hugs, loving on them, and spending time reading books and playing with them at this point in their lives. If I reread this question when Ruby and Virginia are 14 and 12, maybe this will be more complicated. It will also be different if God blesses us with boys someday.

How do I meet my girls’ spiritual needs? Right now, we’re reading the Jesus Storybook Bible as part of their bedtime routine. We also pray and sing together. I sometimes read straight from the Bible to my girls, even though they are little, but I haven’t done it for a while. I should probably do that more. Even when they’re small, they’re still listening. Even though they don’t understand every word, this is how they will learn.

The book convicted me in several other areas as well, but I won’t detail those here. I’m sure every parent will find one or more aspects of their parenting that can use improvement when reading this book.

Who should read this book?

Any Christian parent who wants to grow in conforming his or her parenting to God’s standards in Scripture.

This book is intended for both dads and moms. One of the ideas in the introduction is to have your spouse evaluate you in each area. I haven’t done that yet, but I think would be great for both of us to evaluate each other and then talk about it.

The book is appropriate for parents with younger and/or older children. Even though my children are pretty little, most of the questions were still applicable to me. There are several questions that I know will be more meaningful later, so I’ll definitely be re-reading this checklist multiple times.


If you made it this far, thank you for reading my review! The print edition of A Checklist for Parents is available on Doorposts’ website, or you can get a digital version from the Amazon Kindle store.

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