Grace for the Children: Finding Hope in the Midst of Child and Adolescent Mental Illness, By Matthew S. Stanford
Grace for the Children
  • Length: 248 pages
  • Dimensions: 5.5 × 8.5 in
  • Published: December 17, 2019
  • Imprint: IVP
  • Item Code: 4576
  • ISBN: 9780830845767

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The church's response to child and adolescent mental health disorders has too often been characterized by fear and misinformation rather than grace or wisdom. The result has been families that desperately need practical advice and pastoral care on these disorders, and on the thorny issues that often surround them.

Psychologist Matthew Stanford has written Grace for the Children to educate Christians about a range of common child and adolescent mental health disorders, from both scientific and biblical perspectives. Based on DSM-5 diagnoses, this book covers

  • autism spectrum disorder
  • attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • disruptive behavior disorders
  • depression
  • bipolar disorders
  • anxiety
  • posttraumatic stress disorder
  • obsessive compulsive and related disorders
  • eating disorders

The church is uniquely positioned to offer things our mental health system often lacks: hope, a holistic view of human nature, accessible care, and supportive community. Grace for the Children is a call for the church to pick up this mantle and to offer grace to children and adolescents suffering from mental health disorders.

"In Grace for the Children, Dr. Stanford offers a clear and accessible but scientifically sound overview of a variety of psychological disorders in children. This book provides important scientific information, practical advice, and a thoughtful theological perspective on disorders such as depression, ADHD, PTSD, and eating disorders. It is an extremely helpful resource for parents and other adults seeking to understand and support youth who struggle with these symptoms."

Sarah E. Hall, associate professor of psychology, Wheaton College

"Written by a Christian psychologist who knows his clients and his readership, Grace for the Children is a much-needed resource for parents, teachers, children's pastors, and youth workers who may be dealing with the behavioral and emotional challenges of children and adolescents who struggle with mental illness. The case examples that begin and end each chapter provide a realistic sense of what each disorder looks like and the difficulties involved in finding out what works for a particular child, as well as offering hope that symptoms can improve. The research findings related to the risk factors, neurobiology, and treatment of each disorder are well documented and are summarized in a way that will be easily comprehended by the lay reader. Finally, the biblical examples that are woven throughout offer a very helpful spiritual framework for how to view mental illness in children and youth."

Heather Davediuk Gingrich, professor of counseling at Denver Seminary, author of Restoring the Shattered Self

"Grace for the Children by Dr. Matthew Stanford is an excellent and comprehensive clinical guide for finding hope in the midst of child and adolescent mental illness. It covers autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, disruptive behavior disorders, depressive disorders, bipolar disorders, anxiety disorders, PTSD, OCD and related disorders, and eating disorders. It also includes helpful spiritual and biblical perspectives. Highly recommended!"

Siang-Yang Tan, professor of psychology, Fuller Theological Seminary, senior pastor, First Evangelical Church Glendale, California, author of Counseling and Psychotherapy

"This book offers help that is not only expert but also wise, realistic, practical, and specific. In its pages, Dr. Stanford will meet you where you are and point you toward both guidance and grace. For families affected by mental illness, it's a much-needed lifeline. For church leaders serious about the divine opportunity before us, it's an invaluable resource."

Amy Simpson, author of Troubled Minds: Mental Illness and the Church's Mission

"I'm thankful for Matt Stanford's heart for the hurting. In Grace for the Children, he shows us a path forward to meeting the needs of children and families affected by mental illness. With a deep knowledge of the field and a solid Christian commitment, Grace for the Children will bring the hope, encouragement, and direction you need."

Ed Stetzer, Billy Graham Professor of Church, Mission, and Evangelism, Wheaton College

"Here is the most helpful guide available for Christian parents (and ministers) who want information about childhood and adolescent psychological disorders. Written from a strong faith perspective by an experienced clinical psychologist and researcher committed to Christ and the church, this accessible, compassionate introduction to the major mental and emotional problems that can afflict children and teens wisely addresses the kinds of concerns caregivers have when faced with such difficulties."

Eric L. Johnson, professor of Christian psychology, Houston Baptist University

"The topic of mental illness is almost taboo in far too many churches today, yet hurting people sit in our pews. There is nothing more frightening to a parent than to watch a child struggle with mental illness, causing out-of-control behavior, mood swings, and public embarrassment. In Grace for the Children, Dr. Matthew Stanford encourages parents while educating the church on how to love and minister to children and teens with mental illness. Through the pages of this grace-filled narrative, you will discover how to love these children as Jesus loves them. This book will go a long way in removing the stigma affixed to this topic and replacing it with Christlike compassion."

Janet Parshall, nationally syndicated talk show host

"With clarity and compassion, Dr. Matt Stanford provides a vital resource for parents, pastors, and clinicians who have a heart for children who struggle with mental illness. Grace for the Children explains clinical information that becomes understandable and applicable while also laying the biblical foundation for compassionate and intentional responding. Most importantly, Dr. Stanford has infused the book with grace and hope; it is aptly titled!"

David E. Jenkins, professor of counseling at Liberty University

"This is a book every parent and pastor needs to read! Dr. Matthew Stanford defines mental illness in children and adolescents, and explains its causes, effects, and possible treatments in easy-to-understand language. The format is not only clear and concise but full of deep compassion for the children who suffer and for those who love them."

Kay Warren, cofounder of Saddleback Church

Read an Excerpt


1. A Gift and a Reward
2. Diagnosis and Treatment
3. Questions and Answers
4. Different: Autism Spectrum Disorder
5. Distracted: Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
6. Defiant: Disruptive Behavior Disorders
7. Hopeless: Depressive Disorders
8. Emotional: Bipolar Disorders
9. Fearful: Anxiety Disorders
10. Wounded: Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
11. Consumed: Obsessive Compulsive and Related Disorders
12. Worthless: Eating Disorders
13. Being Holistic
14. A Divine Opportunity


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Matthew S. Stanford

Matthew S. Stanford (PhD, Baylor University) is CEO of the Hope and Healing Center and Institute in Houston, Texas, and adjunct professor of psychiatry at Baylor College of Medicine and the Houston Methodist Hospital Institute for Academic Medicine. His research on the interplay between mental health and faith has been featured in such national publications as The New York Times, USA Today, and Christianity Today. A Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science, he is the author of several books including Grace for the Afflicted: A Clinical and Biblical Perspective on Mental Illness and Grace for the Children: Finding Hope in the Midst of Child and Adolescent Mental Illness.