Parenting has always been a challenge. Jim Dobson nailed it years ago, “Parenting isn’t for cowards.” That sure has been my experience.
From the days of Adam and Eve in the Garden with their first of many children–Cain and Abel–parenting has been fraught with problems (Gen. 4:1-16).
So, what hope can parents find in raising the next generation to be productive and God honoring?
One of the teachings that has helped me as a parent is to focus not on producing a product, like a well-behaved kid, but on encouraging my children to have a heart for God. While good behavior is certainly desirable in our children, it’s equally as certain that it’s not enough.
While we as parents will often make the mistake of settling for outward appearances of compliance in our children, God’s focus, as always, is on their hearts (1 Sam. 16:7).
Two theological questions that have helped me focus more on our children’s hearts are tied into who they are as a son or daughter made in God’s image, worthy of love and respect, and at the same time who they are as little rebels at heart who are born into the world thinking they are the epicenter of the universe.
(Now I can just about hear some of you thinking, “My little Billy or Nancy could never have been a rebel.” Oh, please. Hear me out. Remember the trench warfare waged with each child when you had to finally draw on all your strength and forge a pact in blood with your spouse that neither of you would respond to their demanding cries that you take care of them IMMEDIATELY!!! Yea, you know what I’m talking about.)
The two questions are:
Am I loved? This question ties into a child’s Dignity because they are made in God’s image. Check out Genesis 1:26. It’s foundational for understanding your child’s value and worth to God, which should reshape the way you view them as well.
Can I get my own way? This question ties into what I referred to above, your child’s Depravity. Your child has inherited a sin nature from . . . you, his or her parent. How do I know it’s true? Well, first, the Bible is clear that our kids are just miniature versions of us big people, i.e. beautiful and broken. Romans 3:23 sums it up: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” The glory of God is our dignity that was marred in the Fall (Gen. 3:1-24). “All” is loosely translated, well, all. Us as parents as well as our kids. We’re all in this together.
And finally, and here’s the catch. Now that you know these questions as parents, the challenge facing you is that you must answer both of them simultaneously. How you answer these two questions will determine the kind of parent that you are and how you handle the hearts of those precious children that God has entrusted into your capable hands.
So, how’s your parenting? We’d love to hear your comments and questions.