Book Review: Growing With by Kara Powell and Steven Argue

When it comes to research and ideas on ministry to the next generation, there are few places as well respected as the Fuller Youth Institute. From Sticky Faith to Growing Young, the team at Fuller has helped to shape both churches and families as they seek to pass faith on to the next generation. Growing With: Every Parent’s Guide to Helping Teenagers and Young Adults Thrive in Their Faith, Family, and Future stands as the next essential resource in which Kara Powell and Steven Argue come alongside parents to share research and strategies on how parents can effectively lead, parent, and disciple their students.

Growing With is a parenting book written with the premise that parenting is “a mutual journey of intentional growth for both ourselves and our children that trusts God to transform us all” (p. 17). This parenting approach understands the truth that both parents and students are on a path of their own personal, spiritual, and emotional growth. Both the parent and the student are not the same parent and student that they were this time last year. In approaching parenting from the place of a continual growth, parents begin to realize that things are constantly changing and that parents are to be led first and foremost by God as they seek to lead their kids. Growing With parenting, according to Powell and Argue, is processed through the lenses of “withing,” “faithing,” and “adulting.”

“Withing” is defined as “a families growth in supporting each other as children grow more independent” (p. 73). Though many parents struggle with their children becoming more and more independent, Powell and Argue note that “the goal of mature independence is really interdependence: learning that we were made for relationships – made to rely on others’ presence and support in our lives, and to offer our presence and support in return” (p. 74). Through the topic of “withing,” the changing role of parent, sibling, and grandparent relationships is explored in addition to the topics of technology, discipline, stress, divorce, and disagreements are addressed.

“Faithing” is defined as “a child’s growth in owning and embodying their own journey with God as they encounter new experiences of information” (p. 135). The growth of faith in the lives of children is further defined as being “about making sense of our spiritual journey, not merely learning more information” (p. 140), seeking “to integrate, not separate, spirituality and life experiences” (p. 140), and “is more than intellectual; it also has relational and emotional qualities” (p. 140). Through “faithing,” parents are seeking to help come alongside students to help them to both understand and incarnate their faith into actions. Through the theme of “faithing,” Powell and Argue discuss the topics of searching for faith, the role of doubt, speaking of faith, sharing your story with your child, church and youth group involvement, and the importance of mentors in a student’s growth in faith.

“Adulting” is defined as “a child’s growth in agency as they embrace opportunities to shape the world around them” (p. 199). This segment of the book focuses on the changing relationships between parents and their kids as they grow up. Topics addressed include: dating, friendships, marriage, mission/service projects, career choices, vocation, and college.

Fuller Youth Institute has created another great resource for parents through Growing With. By creating a helpful framework through which to process a child’s growth, Powell and Argue have created a way for parents to intentionally think about parenting. By providing thoughtful ideas for application, Growing With provides an idea bank for small group conversations for parents to help engage their kids. By writing from a hope-filled and gospel place, Powell and Argue have reminded parents that they are not alone, that God is for them, and that He is growing them and their kids.

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