This turned into a really long post, so I am breaking it up. How we started looking for books and my recommendations for the best Christian parenting book of all are here.
The Complete Book of Christian Parenting and Child Care by the Sears. Not only do they have all the credentials--MDs, IBCLCs, parents of eight children, dedicated Christians--they have the fruit to go with it. Some of their children are now working with their parents as MDs. Contrast that to the Ezzos who are not even on speaking terms with their grown kids!
Biblical Parenting by Crystal Lutton. This combines the theological background for a deep study of Scripture (including the rod verses and others) with very practical, real life ways to live a life of grace and discipline. There is nothing permissive here, just loving ways to help you parent as a disciple of Christ. You can also check out some of Crystal's material at www.aolff.org
The Ministry of Motherhood and The Mission of Motherhood, both by Sally Clarkson. I would love to give these to every Christian mom I know. They aren't about spanking; there isn't a soapbox to mount. They are simply full of wisdom and grace. Every time I read them again, I feel as if I had just had a delicious cup of Earl Grey and fabulous scones with plenty of cream with a close friend who has been there and will encourage me. Her blog (I Take Joy) is in my favorites list.
How to Really Love Your Child by Ross Campbell. Excellent. I was excited to hear that some pastor friends in Norway were using this with their church. Beautiful, balanced and helpful.
Grace Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel and Max Lucado. I heard great things about this one, and it was good, but I wasn't a huge fan. It has really blessed a lot of my friends, though. YMMV. *Note: there is one reference to spanking in the book, but the overall book doesn't emphasize spanking.
Families Where Grace is In Place by Jeff Van Vonderen. Absolutely amazing! This book beautifully challenges old paradigms on gender roles, marriage issues, parenting and gives practical and powerful portrayals of what a family of grace looks like. A must read.
The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Smalley. Another one that I strongly recommend. Beautiful, real-life ways to help your children experience love.
Thy Rod and Thy Staff, They Comfort Me by Samuel Martin. Excellent. Sam is a scholar whose love and reverence for God's Word clearly shines through. I have a couple of posts reviewing it here.
Heartfelt Discipline by Clay Clarkson. Another examination of discipline, the rod passages and what Christ-like parenting should be. I honestly prefer Sally's books, but her husband does well, too.
Depending on where you fall on the gentle discipline spectrum, some books may be more helpful than others. For example, the Sears book and Grace Based Parenting seem mildly punitive to me, and some of the wording in Clay Clarkson's book did, as well. However, for someone transitioning into GD, particularly with a Babywise background, I think it would be extremely helpful. I think that Heartfelt Discipline would make a wonderful church library donation, especially for a group that has been influenced by Tripp.
Even if you strongly disagree with my views on discipline, I would encourage you to check out some of these books. You see, when I read books by Dobson, Tripp, and others, I come away feeling as if my children are my adversaries. Discipline becomes a matter of constant suspicion (was that question actually defiance?) and defense against any possible lack of respect through retaliation.
In contrast, after reading the authors here, I find myself feeling more joyful, more loving, and more confident in my authority. My patience is strengthened and I have practical tools to help discipline in the truest sense of the word. We can all use more of that, can't we?