Disciplines of a Godly Family. Revised Edition

By Kent and Barbara Hughes
Wheaton, IL : Crossway (2004). 256 Pages.

Reviewed by Dr. Michael Grisanti
17.1 (Spring 2006) : 122-123

Kent and Barbara Hughes have effectively served the congregation of College Church in Wheaton, Illinois for a number of years. As the parents of four children and the grandparents of nineteen, they draw from a wealth of experience as well as from a lifetime dedicated to the study of God’s Word. This volume originally appeared with the title, Common Sense Parenting, and was published by Tyndale House Publishers in 1996. Crossway’s release of this revised edition offers readers a number of simple, practical ideas about how to rear a godly family and have fun in the process.

The chapters are categorized under three headings: Building a Family (establishing a heritage, promoting family affection, starting family traditions), Spirituality (cultivating the soul, praying with dedication, pursuing family ministry, instilling healthy self-regard [not self-esteem]), and Everyday Living (using appropriate discipline, teaching good manners, fostering life-long enrichments). Each chapter ends with application questions. Almost 90 pages are devoted to an extensive appendix that covers a host of practical issues like aids to Christian education for use in the family, resources for celebrating Advent, and instructions on conducting a Christian Passover. Among other topics, it provides suggestions for making a prayer notebook, offers common-sense tips regarding discipline, suggested reading lists for children, ideas for assembling a home movie library, selected Hughes family recipes, and answers to common questions.

As with any practical book, not all suggestions offered by the Hugheses will fit a given family’s approach to parenting. Regardless, as a parent of eight children, this reviewer found encouragement in the Hughes’ commitment to rearing a godly family and doing it with a joyful heart. For parents who labor under a heavy load of ministry and/or employment, a warm exhortation to devote themselves to this God-given task, as well as the provision of a number of enlightening suggestions, makes this book a potential blessing. For those in the ministry, devotion to the accurate and relevant preaching of God’s Word cannot replace consistent parental involvement in the lives of their children. As the Hughes point out, “the truth is, a pound of parent is worth a hundred pounds of preaching” (62).