Raising Children-God’s Way

How hard can that be?

Today I read an a post on parenting. New parents, Christian parents, never get tired of reading the secrets to success in parenting, it seems. Forgive me if I am tired of it. Forgive me if I seem short and cranky when I write about this. I don’t mean to rant, but I have been parenting for 30 some solid years now. I have been through the wringer, because I have tried very hard to follow the advice and I have had to hold fast in some very difficult storms. Storms that threatened to shipwreck our home, at times.

And placebo advice can make me feel grief that is difficult to restrain and redirect. Because all those well meaning voices truly..mean well. But I decided to tell you all the truth. Real, Godly parenting is both extremely simple and extremely hard. It is just plain hard, and you cannot guarantee either your outcomes or your pathway. You are going to have to come to grips that only God can do that- and some families seem to have more grace than others, although I think we can rely upon God to give more when that is called for.

The Simple:
You have to parent daily.
You have to build bridges of communication.
You have to put yourself aside and put your child’s needs forefront.
You need as much consistancy as you can possibly muster.

The Hard:
There is no one method.
You are human.
You have no final control over the circumstances of life, only over yourself( and that is more than most of us can handle).

The hard means there are influences other than yourself that will factor into your childs life. Not all of those influences are healthy or helpful. You are coming into this with influences and factors of your own, in personality and upbringing. Society is not sympathetic to you, and no one will give you a break, parenting has become an unthankful job.

The simple means that there are things that work. It means that children are flexible and forgiving, and they love you and will respond to what you put into them, beyond what you might expect. The simple does not mean that these are easy things to do, but that they don’t take lots of training or even wisdom to accomplish. They just are time-tested ways that parenting works.

God’s Way in parenting means you pray alot. That is what following God’s way in anything will entail- lots of people get parenting quite well- they have things built into them, or they work hard at building relationships, but if you are going to parent as a Christian it is as simple and as hard as the rest of your relationship with Him. I wish that I had listened more fully to God and less so to the well-meaning teachers and experts. I wish I had had less well meaning interventionists in the Church- who second guessed all my parenting, and more loving rebukes, like some of my friends gave me, that were along the lines of common sense.

We still have the whitewashing of sepulchres as the approved methodology of the Church. Shame on us for that. If we did more to support and love the young mothers and fathers and children of the Church- that would go much farther to producing godliness amongst us than tens of thousands of programs, seminars, and well advertised books.

But we dont. That would just be too simple, and doesn’t swell the coffers near as much…doesn’t make for great statistics,either; although it could go a long way to reduce those shameful other sorts of statistics that the Church now wants to explain away…divorce, pornography use, and all the other stuff that lonely broken people are helpless to resist.

So forgive me if I have tears when you are wringing your hands over how horrible the world is and how much you want to tsk-tsk and herd together.

Be willing, instead, to keep communication open when it is so very, very hard, because all your standards have been tossed aside, and you are forced to see the damage and hurt that you wanted to protect that child from come to pass. Keep open and cry and pray all night because you can’t sleep. Understand that all the teaching in the world is only in hope of a open ear. And sometimes it will take time to create that between you and your child. Understand that there are strong lies in our society, and you will not win the battle against all of them. But keep trying. Keep the faith, so your child will have somewhere to return if the decision to go the Prodigal’s way is chosen.

Keep the fires burning and keep the door unlatched. Love them.

That is all I can tell you. And I am sorry that I cannot applaud your methods and your exteme enthusiasm. Because I know it’s endurance that wins the day in this thing… and that we are quite weak in our ability to walk in humility and love. But I hope the best for us all… it is the highest of callings to raise the generation that will continue after we have all gone. It is worth the sacrifices and the investment.

Invest more in the child than in the method. It pays a far better return.

3 thoughts on “Raising Children-God’s Way”

  1. I have a 6yo, a 4yo and an almost 1yo. What you say is correct – I feels that way intuitively and also from what I of know from scipture.

    But, it is so d*mn hard. How do you keep doing it when it is so hard? I love my kids, I truly do. But sometimes I’m convinced that I’m the most selfish parent in the world. There are times when I simply do not want to maintain that relationship.

    What do you do when that happens?

  2. I might use your comment for starting off another post, if that’s ok with you.-later,though-

    The condensed version of what I think about this is to practice taking the long view. Your children are young- and that means your time with them is intensive. I think,too, that men have different needs in approach. In the long view you grow into relationship with your children,recognize that you’re not perfect and they aren’t either. That is hard for some people ( raising my hand).
    Sometimes you just do what you have to do, and work through the feelings of failure.

    I think that the world around us gets too much of our attention, too- it causes fretting and a drain on our energies. But I have never heard any older man say he felt he put too much time into his family.

    The influence of the father really sets the direction of the whole family, so I hope you find encouragement for the, likely, stand-up job you are actually doing. I know this doesn’t mean much- and I have no placebos- but sometimes you just need rest and recreation to give out more. And sometimes you just need to get to know your kids more as persons. The carpe diem and smell the roses approach to family life. It is very subjective and unique… you probably know what you need to do and need to give yourself permission to be that person.

    Let God give you your life instead of trying to polish up something for Him. I am still in that place of trying to find the balance, but I let myself face how difficult it has been, now. It helps me render more grace, that way.

    I’ll let everyone know if I ever overcome the feelings of failure state….but I am getting much more positive feedback from my older children in recent times. They are really appreciative of the home they had here, now that they’ve been out on their own.
    hey-this tuned into a post, practically!

  3. Ilona,

    Thanks so much for the time spent on answering my comment. As you see, I’m a cad – I should have written something back to you way before now.

    Ah yes, the long view. The view which is always just over the horizon from where I’m sitting. Sitting here typing this I can see things from that perspective and have some sense of where we are going as a family. But in the midst of it, it’s not so easy. I’m sure you can sympathize.

    You’re right(of course) in that I just need to spend time with the kids as persons. Just doing stuff, letting them grow and bloom and me learning who they are. And maybe a little nudging here and there along the way :-).

    I like the part about “rendering grace”. Remembering where we’ve been and who we once were, it shouldn’t be as hard as it is.

    Again, thanks.

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