“If it were going to be easy to raise kids, it never would have started with something called labor.” - Anonymous
I can’t think of an area in my life that has been more difficult, overwhelming, busy, exhausting, and just plain hard than parenting. I also can’t think of an area that has been more fun, full of discovery, rife with opportunity, and fulfilling. But how can we know if we are doing this right?
I wouldn’t suggest looking to your child’s behavior or progress spiritually or grades in school to validate (or not) your parenting. After all, the most important thing we do as parents is point our kids to Christ. The desired outcome of this is their trusting in him for salvation and giving their lives to him. But only God can turn their hearts to himself and give them saving faith. This doesn’t let us off the hook….
There are clear mandates and many guiding principles given in scripture to parents. To me, parenting has always been more about building humility in me than anything else. (Insert embarrassing public toddler blurt out here!) If you are a parent, it is one of the main means the Lord uses to shape you and change you to be more like his son. It is also one of the main means of God’s grace given to your children. Christian parents are no small gift to a child, and God desires to use you in a major way to reveal himself to your precious littles.
With that in mind, I want to offer some reminders and reflections for moms, that I recently shared with some of our young moms, in an effort to encourage you in your parenting journey.
- Love your Husband
- If you are married, the most important aspect of parenting for you is your relationship with your spouse.
- Your marriage can be a daily display of the gospel for your kids.
- A good marriage provides stability for your home.
- This is the other person that loves your kids as much as you do, and bearing the weight of parenting together is a gift.
- Working on this relationship throughout the parenting years will be a blessing when your nest is empty.
2. Pray for your children.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5
This well-known verse is easy to quote, but not so easy to live. In all your ways…all your parenting…acknowledge him. Parenting books and methods and teachings can be helpful for sure, but we are to ultimately look to God in prayer for wisdom for raising our children. He knows them each better than we do. He knows exactly what each of them needs. And, like I said before, he is the only one who can reach their hearts.
- Pray for their salvation.
- You can’t stay angry with someone you are faithfully praying for.
- Pray both before and after you address a problem issue with your child. Never discipline in anger.
- Pray prayers of thankfulness for them often.
3. Give them grace
- The one who is forgiven much loves much - Luke 7:47
- If our kids grasp the forgiving grace of God they will fall in love with him.
- Show them Jesus by sharing the gospel with them often their whole life. There is nothing more important than this.
- Correct them in light of the gospel: “…gospel correction reminds us to bring correction to them in the context of what Jesus has already done for them and his great love for them.” (Give Them Grace, E. Fitzpatrick)
- Control your anger. The ultimate issue is not that my child sinned against me, but against God. And since I also sin on a daily basis, I have no right to get angry. Anger only clouds my vision and distracts everyone involved from what’s most important.
- Be quick to forgive and ask for forgiveness. You will find that there is no one more forgiving than a child.
- Relate to their hurts and don’t minimize their pain. You want them to come to you first with their problems. They will mirror some of your sin struggles and you can offer understanding and wisdom in light of a shared temptation.
- Be encouraging. A lot.
4. Respect your kids
- The early years lay the foundation for your relationship with your older child. Always bring integrity to your interactions with your children.
- They go to those they feel respect them. (This is part of the reason you will see some kids drift toward their peers and away from their parents in middle and high school.)
- Don’t share their secrets.
- Listen to them. (Put your phone down.)
5. Have faith
- Don’t let your fears drive your actions.
- Let them experience difficulties and disappointment – believe God will use this for their best.
- No mistakes – not yours nor your child’s – are beyond God’s repair.
- Rest in him. Relax and enjoy your kids!
Let us not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up. Galatians 6:9