QUICK HIT: Pass it On by Jim Burns and Jeremy Lee is seriously one of the most groundbreaking parenting books I’ve ever seen. It’s a book that’s meant to last the ages, rather than a one-and-done read, and I’m sure it’ll have well-worn cover in this house many years from now.
There is nothing more terrifying than the realization that you, dear parent, are responsible for the spiritual outcome of your little ones. Now it’s true that there will come an age where they will make their own choices, and those choices might not always be the right ones. But train a child up in the way they should go, and it will not depart from them even if they stray from it.
Burns and Lee begin their legacy-building book in kindergarten and take it all the way up through high school graduation. Each year focuses on one theme, with one experience or ceremony that exemplifies it. Each theme is crafted to fit what a child that age is mentally, socially, spiritually, and practically ready to learn, although you may find the need to switch some years around and even replace some years if necessary. The book is not meant to be a strict paint-by-numbers instruction manual, but a guide to adapt to your specific situation.
Pass It On lays out each year rather comprehensively: the theme, the purpose, the reason, and resources to make it work. Each chapter ends with a concise “What you need to know” about each age group on a physical, emotional, relational, and spiritual level. Each chapter ranges from 12-25 pages, with the longer chapters naturally coming in the later years, meaning that this is far from a bare bones outlines but is rather a fully-fleshed out manifesto.
That’s probably the best part about this book and also my one caution. It’s great to have such a comprehensive resource, but neither should you treat this book like so long as you implement this one thing every year, you’ve successfully parented. Especially as children get older, these legacy moments need to happen more and more often. The sex talk shouldn’t just be one lecture, but an on-going conversation throughout childhood. Same for generosity, responsibility, and so on. Each year’s theme should just be an emphasis.
Pass It On provides enough information that you can easily launch out on your own, but don’t let it be your only guide. You need the Holy Spirit on your side as well. Pray over these themes, and pray over your child as you decide how to implement the lessons taught here.
While I don’t have the space to talk about each year, here’s a list of the thirteen different themes:
- Kindergarten: An Invitation to Generosity
- First Grade: An Invitation to Responsibility
- Second Grade: An Invitation to the Bible
- Third Grade: An Invitation to Rhythm
- Fourth Grade: An Invitation to Friendship
- Fifth Grade: An Invitation to Identity
- Sixth Grade: Preparing for Adolescence
- Seventh Grade: The Blessing
- Eighth Grade: Purity Code Weekend
- Ninth Grade: Driving Contract
- Tenth Grade: Money Matters
- Eleventh Grade: Family Tree
- Twelfth Grade: Manhood/Womanhood Ceremony
Pass it On is a great resource even outside of the family. I could see this model being implemented with a modified structure by church youth programs as well (though the church should never replace the family).
In the end, this is seriously one of the most groundbreaking parenting books I’ve ever seen. It’s a book that’s meant to last the ages, rather than a one-and-done read, and I’m sure it’ll have well-worn cover in this house many years from now.