Parenting

KB   |   April 24, 2015 

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I recently clicked on an article via Facebook. As a young parent, the title caught my eye: “The Most Important Thing My Parents Did.” I’m often tempted by articles with such titles, hoping that I’ll click through and find a clear answer for all my parenting failures and worries. But it never quite works like that, does it?

Aside from some clear biblical mandates, parenting is pretty fluid, shaped by a number of factors. It is something that has surprised me about parenthood – though it shouldn’t have – that parenting looks different for different people, that there isn’t a magic potion or list of rules to follow that will guarantee an outcome.

It is children we are talking about, after all. People -- albeit little ones -- who require relationship, not a checklist. But this knowledge often doesn’t stop me from wondering (and worrying) whether I’ve already “ruined” my 3-year-old and 9-month-old!

This article though, written by Tim Challies, was refreshing because it ultimately didn’t lay out a formula, but instead reminded me of our call as parents to be discipling our children. Challies writes,

“Here is one thing I learned from my parents: Nothing can take the place of simply living as a Christian in view of my children. No amount of formal theological training, church attendance, or family devotions will make up for a general apathy about the things of the Lord. I can catechize my children all day and every day, but if I have no joy and no delight in the Lord, and if I am not living out my faith, my children will see it and know it.”

No matter the choices we make for our family situation – staying at home, working, kids in playschool or not, one child, many children – we need to prioritize pointing our kids to Jesus. Some days it will be intentional, a teachable gospel moment, a family worship time. But most days it will be all the little moments our kids saw us pray, love another person, read our Bible, respond with joy to difficulty, in weariness seek Jesus, speak kindly, or humble ourselves.

I often talk to other moms who are discontent with this stage of life. Life with little ones can be time-consuming, humbling, exhausting, and unseen. It is tempting to feel like there must be more, and the world is eager to tell us we certainly are missing out if we don’t “have it all” -- by which they often mean do whatever we want when we want. It can feel like everyone around us is living real life and doing real ministry while we’re overwhelmed by the needs of our kids.

Certainly doing things apart from our kids and outside our home is fine, and often healthy. But I hope we can put aside discontentment and realize that the discipleship relationship we have with our children as parents is one of the most significant ministry roles we will ever have in our lives. We have the opportunity to explicitly speak the gospel into their lives, teaching and instructing them. And we have the gift of living daily life with them, letting them see the grace, joy, and redemption of the gospel played out in the daily realities of our lives and pointing it out in theirs. Can there be any greater joy than seeing someone come to know and love Jesus?

Let’s not discount the value and miracle of seeing that happen in our children, or forget the work and love and time needed to see God’s love get settled deep down into their hearts and transform their lives. Our attitude toward what feels mundane and unimportant now can have a life-long effect on our children’s hearts. It matters.

Not a list of parenting dos and don’ts, not comparing or worrying about what other families are doing, but instead pursuing our relationship with Jesus in such a way that we invite our kids to see it, experience it, be part of it, and be caught up in relationship with Jesus themselves.

Could there be any greater joy?

 

Photo Credit: Carol VonHook via Flickr cc

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KB

K is the wife of a pastor and mother of three little ones. Her favourite areas of ministry are discipling women, teaching children, having people in her home, and seeing the church develop a heart for orphan care and adoption. She currently lives in the NCR, loves dahlias, coffee, reading theology, philosophy, and Jane Austen, and, when the weather co-operates, being outdoors... all, ideally, with her husband and kiddos.

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