In my last post I talked about “What parenting is…” according to the Bible. Today I want to talk about
“What PARENTING TAKES…”
PARENTING TAKES PRACTICE (Phil 4:9):
Do you remember how excited yet terrified you were when you found out you were going to be a parent? What was terrifying becomes fairly doable over time but for my wife and me it was often trial by error. The good news is, we learn as we go. “Fail early and fail forward” is my motto in parenting. Additionally, Scripture encourages us to put things into practice that we have learned from our past. The bottom line here is to learn from your mistakes.
You may have heard about the parent whose firstborn dropped their pacifier on the ground. “Red alert! Stop everything! Call the germ police! Sterilize it or, better yet, throw it away!” The same mom a few years later sees her second child drop his pacifier. She picks it up, makes sure there are no dog hairs on it, wipes it off and sticks it back in the child’s mouth. By the third kid she waits for them to pick it up and keeps washing the dishes. That is pretty funny but it points out the fact that we just don’t sweat the small stuff as we wise up; that then gives us more energy for the big stuff.
Point is, you don’t have to learn the hard way or recreate the parenting wheel. I’d encourage you to:
- Go spend some time with godly parents who have well-behaved but fun kids who seem to enjoy their family.
- Observe what they do. Ask them questions. Invite them to watch you parent and give you some feedback.
- Ask forgiveness from your kids where poor parenting habits hindered your relationship and commit to a better day.
PARENTING TAKES PATIENCE (Col 3:12):
Have you ever prayed for more patience? Be careful what you ask for! I have never been tested like I have been by my kids. Truth is, God is patient with you and me. Compared to who God is, I am more like my kids than Christ. Ever wonder what it is like for God to put up with you? That is so helpful to remember!
Ask yourself this then: Have you ever seen yourself in your kids? I mean, like some part of you that you are not super proud of? Then you will likely find yourself frustrated with that trait in them. It is so understandable but so hypocritical. The bottom line here is “give them grace”!
Remember these things about patience in parenting:
- Is your timing good? Wait for the teachable moment (private, quiet, personal approach).
- See a problem with one of your kids? Take it to prayer; then, at the right time, to your child.
- Are you tired or stressed regularly? Don’t be emotionally reactive; be biblically responsive in your parenting.
PARENTING TAKES PERSEVERANCE (Phil 1:6)
When it comes to preserving you are probably thinking tell me something I don’t know! I am not talking about white-knuckling-grit-your-teeth-perseverance, but more like perseverance motivated by fearing God. I can see who my child could become and I am trusting God for a good result to my efforts to parent them in a godly way—that kind of perseverance. Bottom line is to take a “long view” approach to parenting.
Things to consider:
- Are you taking a short view or a problem-centered focus that makes your child feel judged?
- Do you really believe that God finishes what he starts?
- Is your identity as a parent wound up in your child looking too good to be true?
I hope this two-part series has been helpful to you in knowing what parenting is according to the Scriptures and then what it takes to parent biblically. Obviously this isn’t exhaustive but it’s a good start. It is never too late to adjust your perspective and practice as you grow more and more in the privilege and pleasure of godly parenting.