“Jesus was a child just like your child. His parents, Mary and Joseph, were parents just like us,” writes Sophia William. She adds, “I would recommend that every parent imitate Mary and Joseph’s style of parenting.”
The Childhood of Jesus in Twelve Years: How It Affects Your Child and Your Parental Responsibility is a child-rearing guide. William uses the stories of the birth and childhood of Jesus from the Gospels of Luke and Mark as the source for her parenting lessons. She returns several times to the story of Jesus in his 12th year, when he stayed behind in Jerusalem, teaching in the temple without informing his parents. A story of youthful independence and parental challenge, it is the most detailed account of Jesus’ character as a child.
William was raised in Kenya, lost her mother and grandmother at an early age, and converted to Christianity as a teen. She now lives in Liverpool, England. The first three-quarters of the text is written in a reasonable, supportive tone of many modern parenting books. The last section is distinctly East African, with eight stories set in rural Kenya illustrating parenting principles. These stories are exotic and the lessons oblique.
By contrast, the advice sections are practical, compassionate and contemporary. For example, William writes, “If parents find out that their child is spending a lot of time on the phone, the best approach is to softly talk to the child about time management, rather than demanding that the child should stop keeping in touch with his or her friends altogether.” William makes her points with Scripture quotes not just from the Gospels, but also from Proverbs, Joshua, Isaiah, Revelation, and the Letters of Paul.
Without scholarly notes, William’s book reads as a sincere individual’s independent thoughts on parenting and faith. She does not bolster her opinions with research from experts in Scripture or in child development. Nonetheless, she makes for good company on the parenting journey.