Parenting: A Godly Call
How do you define ‘parenting’?
Meriam-Webster tells us that parenting is the raising of a child by its parents and that it is the act or process of becoming a parent. Hmmm, that doesn’t really say much, does it? Cambridge Dictionary is a little clearer about what parenting is: “the raising of children and all the responsibilities and activities that are involved in it”. Yep, clear as mud! There are so many layers to parenting, so many responsibilities, and a plethora of activities involved in parenting. We feed, clothe, comfort, educate, discipline, and essentially raise babies into young adulthood. It’s quite an endeavor!
What’s the difference between ‘parenting’ and ‘Christian parenting’? Christian parenting includes everything as defined above as well as passing on what we know about God, His Word, and His ways. The Australian Christian College says the “fundamental goal for Christian parents should be guiding their children to a saving faith in Christ and to set them on a path to maturity, bringing them to the full measure of his glory”. We want our children (and their children, and their children’s children…) to put their hope in the one true God. So the key difference between ‘parenting’ and ‘Christian parenting’ is God’s help. One is an act done without God, the other is done with God.
Parenting is one of God’s most important callings
We want to be effective parents who help our children know the loving and powerful God, in addition to teaching them how to tie their shoes and parallel park. Focus on the Family shared lists seven traits of effective parenting that I’m sharing here along with some Bible verses to support each trait.
- Love – God is love. Kids learn God’s love through the sacrificial commitments we make to them and that we teach them to make. Your love is directed at your priorities. Let parenting a main priority and teach your kids to love God, love others. (Matthew 22:37; John 15:12; 1 Corinthians 16:14)
- Respect – Kids feel encouraged when they are respected and valued. Did you know that your language habits will influence your ability to model respect to your children? How we speak and what we say matters today and in the long run. (Matthew 7:12; Titus 2:7; Colossians 3:21)
- Intentionality – It’s important to be intentional with talking about and living out your values and priorities before allowing other influences into your home. Parents must determine how they will own and set the spiritual atmosphere in the home. Be intentional in training your children in they way he should live. (Proverbs 22:6; Ephesians 4:32; Habakkuk 2:2-3; Proverbs 2:6-8)
- Boundaries and Limits – Be deliberate in setting boundaries for social media, video games, television, behavior, relationships, godly living, and having a vibrant faith. It’s important to not let culture determine what is healthy for your family. (2 Corinthians 6:14; Philippians 4:8; Ephesians 5:1-4)
- Grace and Forgiveness – Model forgiveness and grace for your kids. Afterall, God has forgiven sinners and gives grace to imperfect people. These attributes are invaluable life skills. (Colossians 3:13; Luke 23:34; Ephesians 4:32)
- Gratitude – Gratitude is a cultivated habit and a vital part of healthy relationships. Express gratitude regularly and deliberately. Be intentional. (Psalm 136:1; Psalm 100:4; 2 Corinthians 4:15-16)
- Adaptability – Resilience and flexibility can go along way as kids face changing situations, unmet expectations, disappointments, losses, and change. Teaching kids to be adaptable helps them cope and know God’s peace instead of worrying or feeling overly frustrated. (Romans 12:2; Romans 8:28; Hebrews 2:13)
“Teaching kids to count is fine, but teaching them what counts is best.”Bob Talbert
What about your childhood?
Perhaps your childhood experience, the way your parents parented, didn’t set you up with these skills. It may be that forgiveness, respect, and gratitude weren’t cultivated, or appropriate boundaries weren’t set for you. It may be that your upbringing caused you to shove down your feelings and authentic self-expression, which you carried into adulthood.
This can make it more challenging as you parent because you may feel like you don’t have all the ‘tools’ to parent differently from the way you were parented. Please know that you can break generational cycles of abuse, neglect, or apathetic parenting by having awareness, being intentional, and keeping God at the center of your life. Healing is possible and it will positively impact how you parent. If you want to know more about healing from childhood emotional neglect, check out Dr. Jonice Webb’s book, Running on Empty: Overcoming Your Childhood Emotional Neglect. Start the healing.
This is why we work hard and continue to struggle, for our hope is in the living God, who is the Savior of all people and particularly of all believers.
Teach these things and insist that everyone learn them.1 Timothy 4:10-11 (NLT)
Happy parenting (and grandparenting)!
You’re doing a great job! Your church family is hear to support you.
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