What message am I sending? Do my kids have to earn love and acceptance from mom and dad? At first glimpse I say “Of course not” but if I really look at my actions and speech, I have to question it. Yikes!! Am I teaching a warped view of love (based on conditions)? Will they grow up believing that to be loved by anyone (including God), they must earn it? “I’m not good enough… I have to be better” – Is this the message they are receiving? Double Yikes!! Is this how I got this message!?! Is this why so many of us have a hard time understanding what Love really is… because this is how the World loves?
If you have more than one child, chances are, one of them is your challenge, knows how to push those buttons and can bring out the worst in you. Wow, who knew that anger was in there!!! My firstborn, bless him, is my challenge. I call him my little “character builder.” I’m really hard on him. Why is that? Three things come to mind. 1) He is my first 2) He is most like me 3) I see the potential there. There is so much inner conflict and turmoil going on because on one hand I have this frustration for him to be a certain way, but on the other hand, there’s guilt because of the condemnation he is constantly receiving from me.
I went for my jog with God. My “character builder” was on my heart and I was desperate for some wisdom. God spoke. This is what I heard … “I gave you your kids. Let them be who I’ve created them to be, not what you think they should be. THEY ARE FOR MY GLORY, NOT YOURS.” Wow, talk about revelation. I am a transparent person, but until now, not in this area. I have been so prideful. I want to appear as if I have all the answers, and perfect children. Why? So I can be praised for my abilities. Ouch. Truth Hurts. No wonder I’m stressed, confused and overwhelmed with parenting. I’m working in my own flesh and my priorities are all wrong. I’ve had 6 good years of habitual responses and a lifetime of mindsets to break. I CHOOSE to lose all pretenses, humble myself before everyone, and admit that I have no ability without His Spirit moving through me. I must raise my children for His Glory. Then and only then, will I become a parent to be praised.
Application: Does any of this ring true to you? I think we can all say it does to an extent. How do we change?
1) First, we must identify what we are doing and take responsibility for it. Are you humble or prideful in your parenting? We MUST remain humble. How? Learn from the word our Savior.
- James 4:6 God opposes the proud, but shows favor to the humble.
(Other verses Psalm 25:9; Proverbs 16:18, Mark 10:45, Phil 2:5-8.)
2) If you could record your dialogue with your children, what would you hear? Vice or virtue (Negative or positive, what they should not be doing or what they should be doing)? I don't know about you, but there is ALOT of "No!, No!, No!" going on over here. When you are disciplining your child, are you doing it out of anger, embarrassment, or a true desire to soften their heart for the Lord?
3) Look to our Creator to teach us what Love really is. Study it. One example - The Love Chapter - 1 Cor 13. We need to parent our children the same way God parents us – Unconditionally - grace freely given no matter what. Let me clarify, I do not mean do not correct your child (spare the rod, spoil the child – Prov 13:24). But just as God corrects by allowing consequences, his love (heart attitude) is unchanging no matter our actions. It is constant. Father God, show me how to love like you love me!
4) Parent according to the Word. Study what the bible says about it. Teach them and fill their life with the gospel (Deuteronomy 11:18-21). Live out the gospel in front of them: Forgive others, ask for forgiveness, give grace, discipline out of love and not anger. I have found the principles taught in the ministry Growing Kids God’s Way (Growing Kids Charleston) to be very helpful. No matter what parenting techniques you choose always go to the Creator first for wisdom.
5) Lastly, recognize that feelings of failure and inadequacy are not from God. We must take this lie captive (2 Cor 10:4-5). I must CHOOSE to live by the Truth, come to Him in complete humility and know that it’s possible only by God’s grace. I CHOOSE to break this cycle – I CHOOSE to show my children my faults and how I ask for forgiveness from God as well as from them. I CHOOSE to believe and teach the gospel (that God loves me unconditionally) and try my best to live it out in front of them daily. And I CHOOSE to believe that we (and especially our children) are all covered by God’s grace when we fail (1 Peter 4:8). I CHOOSE to allow God to parent through me.
Then and only then, will I become a parent to be praised.