I know anyone reading this post came here for the cheery title but I am not going to tell you everything you are doing wrong, I hope to encourage us, myself and maybe you towards Christ in our parenting.
This is merely my opinion. It seems every parent with kids under the age of 5 are parenting experts and in my experience they start to level out between their children’s ages of 10-13+, some sooner, some much later. What I mean is that young moms scour research, reviews, read all the books, opinions, polls, what have you and feel they have a good grasp on that parenting thing and then somewhere between the preschool years and college the “Oh. Crap” light bulb goes off and they realize they have no idea what they are talking about. I know because I am slowly, sloth-like, moving from Camp Expert to Camp Oh, Crap. We’ll call it the circle of parenting, it’s like the circle of life but not as sing-songy and the only dancing creatures are the ones peeing on your floor.
Here’s the bad news. There are no winners in parenting, we are failing. All of us. We aren’t perfect, no, not one. Just last night I screamed at two kids that would not stop fighting and go to sleep, this morning I have to wake them up and ask forgiveness. I fail daily but that is not the end of the news.
Here is the good news, God never called us to be perfect parents. All the expert advice is meaningless in the scheme of God’s plan. In John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, Christian is confronted with some very reasonably sounding advice, the character aptly named Worldly Wiseman in so many words basically says “You know…..” And proceeds to give him some seemingly practical guidance. That guidance leads him off course and is almost the end of him. Parents, we are all bombarded through social media streams and random strangers at the check-out line and well-meaning friends and family, with Wordly-Wiseman’s advice everyday on the plethora of choices and opinions on parenting, a lot of which seems helpful but can lead us astray. Guess what, you don’t have to play this hamster wheel game of parenting. You can simply parent. There is grace for parents too and hope in Christ who has not left us without the spirit to seek Godly wisdom on even the most mundane matters.
Do you know why many parents begin to mellow out as their kids become older? It’s because the children they have brought into the world, their “perfect” gifts, aren’t actually perfect and in fact are sinners. Perfectly formed, sure, but sinners none-the-less. Not only that, they are sin mirrors. Children mirror our sin and our idols and once they start making their own decisions and becoming their own little people we become painstakingly aware that we woefully know nothing and are out of our depths. That might feel hopeless but it isn’t, we are not alone, we have help but our internet rabbit trails probably won’t help us arrive there. Once we realize that, I think, we have a much better grasp on this parenting thing because it’s not from our own doing.
Christian Parents, the only parenting advice you need is this:
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself. -Luke 10:27, ESV
You see those precious gifts of God who also mirror our failures are not what we live for, they are given to us and we must steward them well. They are our closest neighbors. So our little children and adult children alike need to be treated as such and that is only the second part of it. Firstly, Love God. Let them mirror that. Children won’t care when they are adults what parenting checklists you checked off when they were little, whether you breastfed, bottle-fed, baby wore, rolled in stroller, cried it out or cried in bed together and does it really matter if you homeschooled, unschooled, private schooled, public schooled, whether there was a tv in the house or if you did or didn’ t participate in piano, ballet, soccer, karate…this sentence alone is giving me a panic attack. The only thing that matters is the question “Did you love God with all your heart, Did you love me as yourself?”.
But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. -James 3:17, ESV
We are not Martyrs for our children. We don’t have to die daily to Wordly-Wisdom because God already showed us how to be good parents by being the best one, we die to sin only through the power of Christ Jesus not our mommy blogs. Parenting is scary, so take some deep breaths, we’re in this together and we have the very best Godly wisdom you can ask for. We don’t know how it will all fall or whether our children will be saved but we can pray and prod each other toward Christ and that is the best help. Additionally, I want to challenge myself that the next time I feel like giving unprompted advice, I ask how I can pray for them as a parent instead and actually pray for them.
In this simple way, by God’s grace, a living testimony for truth is always to be kept alive in the land–the beloved of the Lord are to hand down their witness for the gospel, and the covenant to their heirs, and these again to their next descendants. This is our first duty, we are to begin at the family hearth: he is a bad preacher who does not commence his ministry at home. – Charles Haddon Spurgeon
Also read this post from Kevin Deyoung: The Great Parental Freak Out