As both Mother’s Day and Father’s Day pass and graduations have commenced, what an opportune time it is to talk about parenting. Much of this two-part devotional was gleaned from the Authentic Manhood, Men’s 33 Series, Vol. 6 on Fatherhood in sessions hosted by Tim Kimmel.
“As parents, with each child, we have been handed a piece of history – a gracious gift we will send to a time we will not see.” Each child is different. So we must become students of each one of them and “raise them up in the way they should go” – toward God and in the way God shaped them, not the way their parents want them to be to fulfil our own dreams. Intimidating? It should be.
If that is not intimidating enough, “in your children’s eyes, your profession of faith in Christ will either gain credibility or lose credibility as they observe how you live out your faith. This will largely impact their concept of God and Christianity”. If you are lamenting some of your faith failures, it is ok to be troubled, but don not be in despair. God is a redeemer. Take your failing seriously and turn to Him for truth, restoration, redemption and strength. Invest in your parenting skills and your Christianity by reading and going to classes. And most importantly invest in your relationships with your kids in an eternal way whenever you can.
We must BE our children’s example of greatness and the champion of their greatness. True greatness is marked by God’s standard of humility, grace, strength of convictions and a servant’s heart. This must all be true as we live our lives as parents, not just outside the family, but inside the family. What a child sees you doing outside your family has little credibility if they do not experience the same inside your family. Humility, grace, strength of convictions and a servant’s heart – these are the most important things to nurture in the heart of a child. Christ is their greatest example – the Christ of the Bible – the Christ they should see in us.
Fear-Based parenting is a sure way to created intimidated kids. Sadly, many people grew up under the cold hard hand of rule that made it clear, above all else, “my kingdom come, my will be done”, but it wasn’t God talking. Anything that upset the peace or compliance of the rulers of the castle was met with painful punishment, oppressive guilt or relational exile. Most everyone responds to intimidation in one of two ways. Generally, you will cower to intimidation and learn not stand up for yourself or for what is just or good. Or you will learn to tower over an intimidator, anything or anyone that appears to oppose you, becoming the tyrannical intimidator you may have experienced as a child. As parents we must rule with loving authority. We must rule for what is just and good even to the point of repentance if we fail in our loving leadership. This puts God’s truth and love in their supreme position from which we love and lead our children.
High-Control parenting happens when we greedily leverage the strengths of our personality against our children’s weaknesses to get them to meet our selfish agendas through who they are, how they behave or what they do. This shows our children that in the grand scheme of things they are not important. When this is your perspective, your happiness and wholeness as a parent then becomes an instrument of oppression over your children. An individual’s wholeness does not come from a misplaced dependency of the performance of others under your control. God defines us, both children and adults. What must we be teaching our children if we show them that their lives define us? This kind of high-control parenting may also result in your children learning how to get people to serve them, instead of learning to be a Christ like servant to others.
Rules not tempered by grace blocks relationship with our kids and leads to rebellion. A lack of relational equity will cause your kids to be jaded toward you, the uncaring rule maker. They will then learn to continue to test the limits of rule breaking in increasing measure. There is no peace for anyone when this happens. Similarly, relationship without rules breeds entitlement, not grace, and will eventually lead to resentment. If your goal is to always be liked as a parent, when (not if) it is time for you to enforce some sort of discipline or rules, your children will resent you. When you find it necessary to be the enforcer, resentment will follow, because they will think, “I thought you were my friend”. Additionally, when they experience discipline or rules outside of the home, they may be resentful if you do not bail them out. Or they will be resentful because they may feel you did not prepare them well for life – “why didn’t you tell me?”. We must parent on purpose and with purpose.
Grace does not lower the standard in our homes, it raises it. Grace is underserved favor. When grace is taught appropriately, children learn to be givers of grace. Grace is then not demanded, but is normal. Grace lived out well in the home by all will breed an appreciation for it, where everyone wants to give more of it. Grace based parents and their kids are a breath of fresh air and are good for others around them. When grace is the norm, people are blessed in ways they don’t expect. The fruit is; better relationships, better communication, easier parenting, easier discipline, less sibling rivalry and more stable and secure families who make up better neighborhoods and communities.
So how will you prepare your children for the world in a way they will impact history for God’s glory and the good of creation?
Psalm 127 Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.
2 It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.
3 Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.
4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children[a] of one’s youth.
5 Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!
They shall not be put to shame when they speaks with their enemies in the gate.