It is easy to make things other than the gospel central in our parenting, especially in crisis moments. We can let fear or anger dominate our parenting in tense moments. We can let despair or foolishness undercut our wisdom when we are not renewed in our mind or rested in our spirit. But what if the gospel both informed our thinking and our parenting continually?
I want to offer 4 ways you can practically and regularly parent with grace as you are keeping the gospel in view.
1. Identify Heart Issues (Hebrews 3:12-13)
Remember: Questions prick the conscience, but accusations harden the heart!
When you are trying to understand your child or after you discipline your younger child you would be wise to ask questions to draw out the heart (Prov 20:5).
- What was happening? What was going on? (Proverbs 18:13)
- What were you thinking and feeling? (Psalm 139:23-24)
- What did you do in response to what you were thinking? (Luke 6:43-45)
- What did you want, what were you hoping to accomplish? (Matthew 6:19-21)
- What was the consequence/result of your actions? (Galatians 6:7-8)
2. Address Heart Issues with Scripture (Hebrews 4:12)
Most heart issues revolve around four common issues: anger, foolishness, despair, and fear. As you draw out their thinking, feelings, and desires you will likely know which one is most at play. Go to the back of your Bible and look up verses that best fit the occasion and the heart attitude. Share them with your child and have them memorize them.
3. Move to Themes of Redemption (Hebrews 4:14-16)
Help your child see that the heart issue they are struggling with can be redeemed.
For instance, anger often carries with it an acute sense of justice. The gospel response to anger is surrender to Christ. If it is not self-righteous anger God can use this sense of fairness to stand up for what is right and to help others who are oppressed.
Foolishness at first glance seems to have nothing redeeming about it. The gospel response to foolishness is to find our satisfaction in Christ. A childlike simplicity and spontaneity toward loving and pursuing God can be redeemed from a child whose impulses are redirected.
Despair can lead to self-pity. The gospel response to despair is to hope in Christ when down. Redeemed sobriety can help a child be sensitive to the pain of others and to be realistic with what the world has to offer.
Finally, fear can be paralyzing. A gospel response to fear is security in Christ. Trusting God and the fear of Lord the help us to be discerning and learn to love people more and need them less.
4. Pray for Them and With Them (Romans 12:11-12)
Praying with a redemptive mindset and a gospel perspective will go a long way to help you raise your children to follow Christ. Praying for our children is perhaps the best thing we can do when we feel out of control or hopeless. Praying with them can be very bonding and disarming. Sharing our own struggles, our dependency on God and our hope for them is often what helps break through a barrier.
These four ways to keep the gospel central in our parenting can be very powerful. Perhaps the first thing is to apply these to our own circumstance and heart. I hope they are a blessing to you.
Dr. Garrett Higbee
The content of this post was influenced by two books: Shepherding A Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp and Age of Opportunity by Paul David Tripp.