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Hints for Parents Review by Kathy Gelzer

By Gardiner Spring, with Gospel Encouragements by Tedd Tripp
Shepherd Press
PO Box 24
Wapwallopen, PA 18660

Every now and then I run across a book worthy of being re-read on a regular basis, maybe every year. Hints for Parents is just such a book.

This little 80-page hardback book was written by a Presbyterian pastor during the early 1800s. It is divided into four chapters: "Important Truths to Teach Our Children," "Measures to Take in Teaching Our Children," "Motivations for Faithful Parenting," and "Courage! Take Courage!" At the back of the book is a nine-page article by Archibald Alexander, D.D., entitled "The Duty of Catechetical Instruction," written in 1837.

The text is interspersed with "Gospel Encouragements" in the form of scripture references, encouragement, and validation for the present time period. Tedd Tripp offers his comments here, just as a wise teacher would in a classroom setting.

The entire book is written with a heartfelt spirit of loving concern, and throughout Hints for Parents the family is honored as God's institution and instrument. The first topic in the first chapter is Subjection to Authority, which is framed in a positive light: "The God of nature has assigned the years of childhood and youth to parental control. This wise and generous arrangement simply cannot be upended without jeopardizing the best interests of our children for time and eternity. It is an arrangement that will preserve a child from a thousand evils."

Subsequent topics are generally what one would expect in a parenting book, but there are some uncommon (albeit Biblical) areas emphasized as well: truthfulness, work habits, temperance (used here to mean restraint or self-control), choosing friends, remembering the Sabbath Day, "Proper Estimation of the World and its Culture," and generosity.

I was convicted often while reading Hints for Parents. "Are you regularly teaching your children to read God's holy word? (Do you read it?) Are you instructing them in the great, eternal truths of Christianity? Do you pray with them, for them, and teach them how to pray? (Do you pray?)"

The book is astoundingly timely, despite when it was written. Here is a quote from the topic of industriousness: "Many a child has been lost to himself, to his family, to the world, and to God, because he had little else to do but indulge himself. But many have been rescued from disgrace and ruin--and pointed toward industry, accomplishment and happiness--simply because they had little time for entertainment." And in the section on instruction: "Who disagrees today that the great bulk of literature and entertainment exerts a destructive influence, both on the intellectual and moral character?"

I know my husband and I will be re-reading this book often. Hints for Parents is a goldmine!

Product review by Kathy Gelzer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, January 2009