6 Unchanging Principles of Parenting
Whether you are a parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle you influence the people around you. These truths apply to all of our lives as they are never-changing Biblical truths that carry us through many seasons of life.
#1 What you do matters, what you do makes a difference.
What is success as a parent? We discover that the answers we often give when it comes to what parenting success looks like differs from what God has to say.
Some people think, “I’ll be successful as a parent if: my kid never experiences heartbreak, or grows up to have a good career, or my kid never knows want because I make enough money to pay for anything he or she desires.
But what we discovered is that the biblical lens for successful parenting looks different. The goal of parenting, at least from the Bible’s perspective, is to create space for opportunities to happen where I can point my children, regardless of their age, to see the existence and goodness of God in this world.
What you do, how you live, the way you see the world, makes a difference. What you do matters.
In your child’s life you are the instrument that God uses to communicate and teach the most important thing that your child could ever know: the character, the love, the grace, and the plan of God in their life. And that doesn’t end when your child moves out of your home.
It is the essential thing that is to be crafted in every person, and this passage from Deuteronomy 6 says that the essential task is assigned to you as the parent. Not the church. Not the government. Not the school. Not the village. Every single one of those things are designed to help and support you but none of those were designed to replace you. You were chosen for this task. You were chosen to lead your child spiritually. What you do matters.
#2 You're not a parent because you are able.
In this message, Pastor Matt looks at the feelings of inadequacy that we have as parents and how we deal with that. What we discover is that God’s grace, his present grace is given to you now. And through that grace God gives you what you need in order to parent. What God wants from you is a willingness to step up and lead your child with what you have, driven by love.
God’s greatest gift to you as a parent, in his Grace, is Himself. He knows how hard your task is. He knows that it drives you past your ability. He knows that more often than not you have no clue what you are doing. He knows there are times where your anger overwhelms you. He knows every struggle you have as a parent. And He knows that the only thing in all the world that could help you would be himself. See the only thing that makes parenting even remotely possible in light of this truth is that God is with you. In His Grace he has given himself. Now think about that for a moment. The God who Paul says has the ability to do all things. Like all the things that are way beyond you - that God is with you.
He is with you in the morning when you struggle to get out of bed.
He is with you when your children are being disrespectful.
He is with you when you send your child off to school worried sick what they will experience.
He is with you in the pain of your parenting.
He is with you in the regret.
He is with you in the might-have-beens.
He is with you in the what ifs.
He is with you.
So in God’s present Grace, fight the fear. Battle the discouragement. Combat the regrets and receive today the savior who’s rope never ends, and will never leave you alone.
#3 Character Formation > [Is Greater Than] Behavioral Modification
In this message, Pastor Matt shows us that as parents we are never, ever just dealing with the words and actions of our children. At least according to the Bible, we are always dealing with what controls their behavior, which is their heart. Just like you and like me, our character is shaped and influenced more significantly by what’s on the inside than what’s on the outside. Your kid’s character is being driven by whatever is sitting on the throne of their heart.
Is the heart of your child controlled by the love of the Creator or by the craving of something in creation?
In every single situation you face, that’s the question that is being asked.: Is the heart of your child controlled by the love of the Creator or by the craving of something in creation? The answer to this question establishes your job description. Let’s say you ask your child to help you with something and they say no. And you follow up that with the question, Why aren’t you willing to help me? They will never have a good answer. Your child will never be able to answer because they don’t understand why they do what they do.
It is your responsibility as a parent to help unfold the deep mysteries of their heart. To make connections for them that are not only insight-giving and wise, but transformational. They need you to do more than point out their failures and dole out punishment. They need you to capture these opportunities, these moments. These are moments where God is giving you a view into your child’s heart. God is giving you moments of insight, revealing to you what your child does not know, does not see, does not understand so you can show it to them with grace so that the Holy Spirit can work concern, conviction, and confession into their hearts which is the character building they need.
#4 The best change happens slowly over time.
Discipline, conversations, discussions, expectations are all important parts of parenting. But unfortunately, for most of us parents, when our children are in need of correction we believe all that we have to do is show our kids, say the right things, do the right thing and they will change in a moment’s notice. And what we fail to realize is that our words and actions simply don’t have the power that we think they do. And the reason is because ..
Parenting isn’t an event, it is a life-long process.
Change in children doesn’t happen overnight, it happens over days, months, years, even decades. As parents, we have to look at the long game that parenting entails.
Here are three shifts we need to adopt as parents:
Shift #1: View of parenting as one long conversation
Free yourself from the pressure of needing to see your child change overnight. It will never be just one conversation.
Shift #2: View Parenting as a project
Be active in looking for those opportunities to address what God has shown you about the heart of your child. Look for moments every day to speak a tender word to your child’s heart. Point out the simple to your 5-year-old. Have conversations about the complex with your teen. Discuss the sophisticated with your adult children. Capture the God-given opportunities
Shift #3: Model the Patient Mercy of the Father
Show the same mercy to your kids that God the Father has shown to you.
God has set you on this path of grace so that you can have what you need to be a major part of that same process in the life of your children. God parents you with a patient mercy so that you can in turn, can walk step-by-step with your child in the same way. God blesses you with his presence and mercy so that you can pass the same mercy on to your children.
#5 Heartbreak Happens
[This message was given by guest speaker, Pastor Kim Skattum, the former Senior Pastor at Crossroads. Church]
For all its joys and great adventures, parenting is often filled with heartbreak. Things happen to our kids, and with our kids, and by our kids, that are simply beyond our control—and many times those events shatter our worlds.
But that’s the nature of loving voluntarily and freely—by necessity, that kind of love, especially of a parent for a child, requires a level of vulnerability that can leave us wondering … “Why did this happen? Why does God allow this to happen, despite my best efforts to raise my child well?
Here are three things to do when your world comes crashing down because a child is facing a challenge from which there’s little more you can do …
1. Lean into God.
The most powerful, compassionate being in the entire universe loves you in ways you cannot even comprehend. For this reason alone, we need to bring all of the heartaches in our parenting to God, so we can hear from Him—and take refuge in Him.
2. Move from asking “Why” to asking “What Now?”
Even Jesus asked why when confronted with his agony on the cross, so it’s not a bad thing. But if we keep focused on finding out the reasons something bad happened, we’re just going to get stuck. After spending a little time in the “Why,” move to the “What Now?” Even in the midst of hardship, there is always a next small step, something responsible we can do in order to move forward in our healing.
3. Listen to the right message
The Apostle Paul was given a “thorn in the flesh” (and we don’t know what that was). Satan used it to send him harassing message, but instead Paul listened to what God was telling him, namely that God’s power was made perfect in our imperfections … and challenges, and all the difficult circumstances that come out of our parenting.
God is no mere observer to our pain when it comes to the heartbreaks associated with parenting—he’s right there in the middle of it with us.
So, lean into Him.
#6 Your Parenting is Shaped by Your Idenity
Where is your meaning and purpose in this life found? The answer to that question is so important because the way you answer will determine how you live your life. No action that we take, or reaction that we have, ever happens in a vacuum. All of our actions, all of our reactions, are connected to who we think we are, who we think God is, what we think this life is all about, what we think is important. The street level reality is that we don’t really live based on the facts of our existence, but based on the sense that we are making out those facts. It is why you and I can face the same situation, with the same set of facts, and react to it very differently. The way we are reacting is born out of our worldview. So in light of all of this, it should be of no surprise to us that our parenting is shaped by our worldview.
Every parent asks the question, where do I find my meaning and purpose as a parent? And the way you answer that question, will determine how you speak and act toward your children. You act and respond as a parent, not because of who your children are or even what they are doing, but you act and respond as a parent based on your worldview and the way you are interpreting who they are and what they are doing.
Things to look out for ….
1. You are possibly getting your identity from parenting if you have a big concern about your reputation.
How much does your reputation mean to you? Is how others view your children important to you? Hear me on this, God did not give you kids to build your reputation, but to publicly display his. Oftentimes we are way too worried about what others think about us and what we are doing. You are possibly getting your identity from parenting if you place too much focus on the accomplishments of your child. Every parent who loves their child, wants them to do well. As parents we are not rooting for our children to fail, to hurt, to fall short. We all want our children to be respected, to be noticed, to be pointed out for their success. We want our children to have grit, try harder and accomplish great things in this life.
But when your child’s accomplishment becomes an obsession, becomes the focus, becomes all that matters we have crossed a line as parents. When parents cross the line, what I have found is that you want your children to succeed because you need them to succeed. And in doing so your focus on their success is not spiritually, or physically for that matter, healthy because this focus is rooted in asking your children to give you the satisfaction of heart that they will never be able to give.
2. You are possibly getting your identity from parenting if you are fixed on doing rather than being.
The reality is that we live in a Do - Have - Be society. It’s a worldview core belief about what makes us who we are. Here is how we think… if I do fill in the blank, I will have fill in the blank, and then I become fill in the blank. Listen, how we fill in those blanks, where we believe our identity comes from, governs how we live.
Through Jesus our identity becomes, I am ___, I have ___, I do ___. If you are a believer today, fill those blanks in like this…
I am a child of God, I have relationship with God forever, therefore I do the will of the Father.
How you fill in those blanks, where you believe your identity comes from, governs how you live—and how you will raise your kids.