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Families Where Grace Is in Place

4.38  ·  Rating details ·  483 ratings  ·  61 reviews
Now updated with discussion guides for families and small groups, Families Where Grace Is in Place continues to minister to couples and parents nearly twenty years after it was first published. Using his professional and personal experience, VanVonderen shows readers how to nurture God-honoring relationships free of manipulation, legalism, and shame. This book is a practic ...more
Paperback, 172 pages
Published November 1st 1992 by Bethany House Publishers (first published 1992)
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4.38  · 
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 ·  483 ratings  ·  61 reviews


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Jessica Poundstone
Oct 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: parenting
It is infuriatingly hard to find Christian books on parenting that take grace (aka unconditional love)to its logical and full conclusion as applied to our relationship with our children (and with our spouses). This one does it. (The subtitle is "Building a Home Free of Manipulation, Legalism, and Shame") Bottom line: it's not our job as parents or spouses to control the behavior of our spouse or children. It is our job to love them unconditionally, and to continually direct their attention to th ...more
Lisa
May 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Families Where Grace is in Place is SO GOOD. It helps provide a solid and healthy foundation for how you view parenting and marriage (and other) relationships. The crucial mindset shift is going from one where you’re trying to control others to one where you realize you can only control yourself, and that frees you up to have a home of grace where mistakes are welcome, performance doesn’t determine your kids’ worth, and everyone can have mature and healthy relationships.

My only quibbles were tha
...more
Dalaina May
I wish every baby was sent home from the hospital with a copy of this book. As parents of four preschoolers, my husband and I are just now trying to shape our philosophy of parenting and figure what our goals as parents are and why. This book really gave words to what was in our hearts for our boys. In particular, we really appreciate the author's point that the goal is not simply raising well-behaved kids. He writes, "In controlling, shaming families, love and acceptance come as a reward for ju ...more
Amanda
Sep 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
Because Mark and I both came from shame-based religious backgrounds (mine was much more extreme!), as our kids our getting older I wanted us to have a resource that we could discuss and make sure we're on the same page with our parenting. A good friend recommended this one, and it was an excellent place to start. Because it's covering families, about half is about marriage, with the other half is on parenting. I would have loved for it to be all parenting, but I can see why marriage was addresse ...more
FarmFreshJessica
Oct 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non
This book is exactly what I needed to put teeth into the thoughts and philosophies swirling around my head and heart. Conceptually I think I understand what a grace filled family should look like, but in practice and in truth, I have no idea. This book helps me understand it better and reminds me of WHY I'm working so hard to change my parenting practices. It's more philosophy than "how-to" but there is a little of that, mostly examples from his own parenting journey.
Wendy Abel
May 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recently read this through a second time, this time aloud to my husband. It was just as good the second time and will likely need a refresher again in a few years. Excellent principles of grace and respect and how to apply them in marriage, parenting, and family life.
Kim Davis
Jul 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This is absolutely the best book on parenting I've ever read, and I've read my share. I'd say more but all I really have to say is this: get your hands on a copy of this book and read it.
Jessica
I liked this book but wanted more from it. VanVoderen is a pastor and counselor as well as father to four daughters, so he has a lot of experience to draw on. He starts by describing the problems in many marriages and how this comes from looking to the other person for fulfilment rather than to God. Fair enough. He talks about how this extends to parenting. Then he goes on a long explanation of Scripture to challenge the notion that men are supposed to rule over their wives. He talks about probl ...more
Adam Ross
Mar 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
This was in many ways a helpful book. VanVonderen provides a helpful corrective to the all-too-common family life of conservative Christians. He argues that these families preach a gospel of grace, but live according to a gospel of works where family members are required to perform certain "Christian" doctrines or believe certain things before they receive love and acceptance. He argues that this is a chief reason Christian parents have such trouble with their kids; the kids learned the unspoken ...more
Hope
Nov 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is not another how-to-have-a-perfect-family book. In Van-Vonderen’s own words, “this book is more about learning the right job, and less about learning new techniques. The first step is easy – if we will do it: We must learn the simple difference between God’s job and ours. God’s job is to fix and change. Our job is to depend, serve, and equip.” (p. 15)

The book recounts the differences between grace-filled families and families that shame their loved ones into good behavior. The author uses
...more
Carlie
Dec 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
This book was a quick read, partly because I skimmed some sections that seemed to repeat themselves a bit a partly because its a fairly simple concept. Grace is integral to the Christian life, not just in our relationship to God but also in how we relate to each other, no? That's about it. I have never read a book that tries to cover parenting and proper marital relationships in one whack and does it in only 172 pages to boot! Whew! I thought the ideas that VanVonderen presents were sound althou ...more
Jeannette
Jan 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mommy-books
I first came upon this book in a parenting context, but after reading it, appreciated its broader scope to include marriage relationships, too.

VanVonderen's premise is to describe relationships as either Curse-full or Grace-full. In a Curse-full relationship, people try to find their needs met in each other, which leads to people to try get what they want by controlling others and usually ends up focusing on outward behavior. A Grace-full relationship is focused on Christ and His enabling power
...more
Amy Kannel
There was SO much great stuff to love and learn in this book. But there were also a great deal of troubling presuppositions about people's hearts and motivations. Coming from a biblical counseling perspective/background, I found the author's fundamental teaching about the human heart to be deeply flawed and not rooted in Scripture.

If you are willing and able to separate the wheat from the chaff, this is *absolutely* a book worth reading for marriage and for parenting. I did a lot of underlining
...more
Megan
Feb 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: parenting
This book may have an awkward title, but the information in here really made me examine myself and my roles as a mother and wife. Ted and I have been reading this short book together for a year. A year! But we wanted to move slowly through the many thought nuggets in this book, which is made easier by the discussion questions at the end of each chapter. VanVonderen starts by explaining how not to be a good parent, and not just actions but thoughts as well. It was this paradigm shifting thinking ...more
Shannon
Sep 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: family-parenting
Fantastic! Best book about raising your children the way they should be raise, not with controlling or performing guiding you. One of my many favorite quotes (and I have the booked marked up/underlined and starred all of the place!):
Our job is not to control her/him and turn her/him into a more pliable person. Our job is to create an environment in which she/he can be the best tenacious, strong-willed person Jesus ever had working for Him.

Another one:
Parenting is about discipline - that is disc
...more
Catherine Gillespie
Jun 13, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: parenting
In Families Where Grace Is in Place Jeff VanVonderen contrasts shame-based families with grace-full families and does a good job of balancing the theoretical/Biblical aspects of what he’s saying with concrete examples. I find it’s important to have both, because without the theory you won’t be motivated to tackle the practical work, and without the practical example you can nod agreement without putting it into practice. I liked how this book offered real explanations and examples.

{Read the rest
...more
Joshua Skogerboe
Jul 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
There should be more stars. We have a great family, but it is a healthy thing to be dissatisfied with "good enough" when it comes to these most primary of relationships in your life. Jeff lays out a clear case for the twisted nature of many of our relational interactions because of the corruption of sin. We live under the influence of the curse in Genesis 3, and without intentional effort, our relationships can become performance-driven and we will work to continually control the behavior of tho ...more
Johanne
Dec 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
A nice little read! For a book club with my Christian moms playgroup. At first I wasn't sure how I related to the book, as it was mostly speaking of marriage, and of troubled marriage, which I felt didn't really relate to me. But that was mostly a prelude to his discourse on parenting and family - which I actually quite enjoyed. Very nice points, mostly in-tuned with my parenting philosophies and with emphasis on respect. Loved many of the suggestions made. A great find I probably wouldn't have ...more
Rachel
Jun 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
This book is a thinker. I am a teacher and I was trying to figure out how to apply this to the classroom. I want all the children I run into to have grace on them. I want them to be able to explore and have freedom in Christ. I learned a lot about my own controlling ways. I want to forgive and let go, I don't want to yell or manipulate to get what I want. However, I want what God wants. I will read another one of this author's books which is "Tired of Trying to Measure Up."
Kristin
Oct 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is a MUST READ for all Christian parents. The truths of this book kept me in tears each and every page. Coming from a family that was more "curse-ful" then "grace-ful" has left me with so many holes as a spouse and parent - I felt like I was in a counseling session the entire book! Very rich and straight to the heart of the matter. It also is not a "how-to" book with parenting formulas, which I *greatly* appreciate.
Arun Thamizhvanan
Feb 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: christian-books
Never thought I would end up giving 5 star for this book.
First few chapters were academic but once the descriptive part is over for grace-full & curse-full families. The practical side of the book is pretty good with great anecdotes and tips. It is not a how-to book but gives insight on the attitudes that we need to have grace in families.
Great book on how to be a great spouse, parent and be a part of grace-full family instead of curse-full family.
Kristi
May 14, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: parenting
Excellent book -- it has really helped me understand more how to put grace into practice in the family, both as a wfe and a mother. I found especially helpful the discussion on what it means not to provoke one's children to anger, that is, not to put them in the position of having and suppressing hostility. The author includes stories from his own experience (good and bad) as a parent that are also helpful.
Nicole
Sep 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
Extraordinarily helpful "Christian counseling" book. Clarified for me what my job as a parent is and, crucially, what it is not. Carried forward several themes from the Heims' "True North" into the setting of family life. He does not present a strict "complementarian" interpretation of Scripture (which was fine with me, but is worth noting).
Laurie
Jun 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Must read! Great books for parents of teens...great reminder that my efforts to control lead to rebellion. Great tools and advice on how to parent to yield a "change of heart". We do not want kids who "pretend" anything...or play church. We want children who know their value and worth to Jesus and who grow up healthy, bathed in His grace and love. Great, great book!
Becky
Nov 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Highly recommended. Do you want a family that LOOKS healthy (outward conformity) or IS healthy (inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit)? A little short on practicals (I am planning to reread and highlight all the examples he gives of how he talks to his kids), but has given me tons of food for thought, ways to pray, etc.
Gretchen
May 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: couples or parents
best book you'll EVER find to teach you how to both trust your children/spouse to the Holy Spirit and how to let go of your identity being tied up in their successes/failures. not only does it teach you to be a healthier and more effective parent/spouse, it teaches you how to be freer and healthier yourself.
Jerriann
Dec 31, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is an awesome book. Through this book, I learned how to empower all my children to make their own choices and decisions. I finally understand how to offer appropriate consequences for their decisions without having to send them to time out for everything. If you are tired all the time from fussing at kids and punishing over and over, then this book is one you should read.
Joanna
Aug 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: parenting
This is a fabulous book, not so much about the hows of discipline/relationships, but about the undergirding mindsets in our marriages and parenting. Specifically, it addresses the need to help develop our children's inner strengths/fortitude/conscience through the way we parent, not just focusing on outward conformity. I found it to be a very encouraging read.
Jenn
Oct 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing


This book is wonderful! A great resource for learning to live in grace-full relationship in your home. Finding your worth in Christ and not in your behavior or the behavior of your spouse or kids. I will be recommending and re-reading this one often!
Caroline
SO good. Great for marriages and parenting. Addresses the "whole" family, not just parenting children. This book is one of my favorites. Second time to read it. I know I will be going back to it in the future.
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“The wife's list, no matter how long or short, communicates to the husband, "I don't like you. I don't accept you. But if you perform the way I think you should, then I will like and accept you." And no matter how long the husband's list may be, it says in like manner to his wife, "I don't like you either. But if you stop caring about things so much, if you stop feeling the way you feel and noticing the things you notice, then I will accept and like you.” 1 likes
“Parents know all about the verses related to how children should behave but not so much about those that remind them about how they should behave.” 1 likes
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