We all have visions of perfect parenting. We picture homes that are a place of order and peace, filled with much joy and laughter. It seems lovely in our minds or on paper or charts as we set up routines and schedules for our days but so many times the day doesn't get much beyond the breakfast table, and our attitudes are not peaceful or joyful.
We can too quickly compare ourselves to others who are more organized or can stick to routines (trust me I am one who loves routines, so I am a strong supporter of them) but as parents, we need to accept the way God designed us. It is good to have structure and order to your day. We need to eat, bathe, clean homes, teach our children so many things, but my point I want you to grasp is though these are good and necessary parts of our lives and we are commanded in the Scriptures to train up our children, (Ephesians 6:1-4, Deuteronomy 6:4-9) we can’t change their hearts.
God is the one in control of their salvation.
*Please note again that I am not saying there is anything wrong with rules and routines because they are and needed (See – Parents, Require Obedience of Your Children) but we need to remember they may develop well mannered, obedient children but they will not create a child who is godly.
We Are Not Perfect
Remember that it is God’s grace that transforms the lives of our children not our perfect or more likely imperfect parenting. He is the only One that has the power to transform their hearts and minds. This doesn’t mean we don’t strive to set a pattern and routine for our homes that directs the hearts of our children towards Him. It is our duty as parents to train up our children in His ways but we can’t trust that our parenting is going to save them.
“Children need to obey before they can process obedience through faith. When faith comes, the obedience which they have learned from fear and reward and respect will become the natural expression of faith. Not to require obedience before faith is folly. It’s not loving in the long run. It cuts deep furrows of disobedient habits that faith must then not infuse, but overcome.”
~ John Piper
We can too easily trust in our “outstanding parenting skills” or how we “enforced all the right rules.” When we are reminded that the outcome of their lives is based on God’s grace and calling and work in their lives it keeps us humble and mindful not to take the glory away from Him when their lives turn out well.
This truth frees us from putting a burden on ourselves of having to be perfect parents.
We need to be parents who realize we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23) and trust that Jesus is all we need for life and godliness.
Seek Forgiveness When We’ve Sinned
Humility is one of the most powerful examples the Lord has used in our family to display His grace. Let your children see how you handle being wrong and what you do to make it right. Make sure you seek forgiveness first from the Lord when you’ve sinned against a family member and then seek forgiveness from the one you have sinned against.
Our homes are such training grounds for God’s grace. When our children see the power of God’s grace in our lives as we deal with sin, it will have much more impact to remind them that our God is a merciful, gracious and kind Father.
Responding With Patience
In sharing from my personal experience, my patience level is much higher when I’ve had time with the Lord that day. His thoughts are first on my mind and heart (Psalm 119:11). I am not making this a law but a powerful suggestion that I highly recommend. Plan time with the Lord daily.
Extending patience to our children is not just in times of correction but many times when we are teaching them. So many times we can sweep the floor or clean up the table faster on our own, but when we take the time and show patience and walk alongside them to teach these important skills, it models patience in all circumstances. It is a great time to talk about how our God is so long-suffering with us.
God’s love is expressed through us when we are showing patience in a difficult situation. God’s love is not evident when we are responding with a heart of impatience.
We are not going to respond patiently every time, so I direct you to the section above again – Seeking Forgiveness When We’ve Sinned.God’s love is expressed through us when we are showing patience in a difficult situation. God’s love is not evident when we are responding with a heart of impatience.
God’s love is not based on our performance, and our love for our children should not be based on their performance. If we are in Christ, we have the power to love others unconditionally. We are not to hold grudges, bring up past wrongs, have a pity party when we’ve been wronged against but we are to follow His model of forgiveness – seventy times seven (Matthew 18:22).
I don’t know about you, but I am so thankful God’s love, and forgiveness for me is not based on my performance. Sin must be dealt with, but God’s love must be demonstrated in our forgiveness.
Each Child is Unique
God has graced each of us with unique abilities, likes, preferences and gifts and this includes our children.
We need to remind ourselves to allow our children to be who God created them to be and not who we desire them to be.
Take the time to study your children and learn how you can encourage their unique characteristics. Don’t force them into a mold of who you think they should be.
Learn to encourage them to use their gifting to glorify the Lord by serving and loving others.
The best model of grace-filled parenting we can give our children is for them to continue to see their parents relying on God’s grace in all things. The Lord is mighty to save your children despite your perfect or imperfect parenting.
“Most of us are painfully aware that we’re not perfect parents. We’re also deeply grieved that we don’t have perfect kids. But the remedy to our mutual imperfections isn’t more law, even if it seems to produce tidy or polite children. Christian children (and their parents) don’t need to learn to be “nice.” They need death and resurrection and a Savior who has gone before them as a faithful high priest, who was a child himself, and who lived and died perfectly in their place. They need a Savior who extends the offer of complete forgiveness, total righteousness, and indissoluble adoption to all who will believe. This is the message we all need. We need the gospel of grace and the grace of the gospel. Children can’t use the law any more than we can because they will respond to it the same way we do. They’ll ignore it or bend it or obey it outwardly for selfish purposes, but this one thing is certain: they won’t obey it from the heart because they can’t. That’s why Jesus had to die.”
~ Elyse Fitzpatrick
May we glorify the Lord in our parenting by relying on His grace and praying that His Spirit would draw them to Christ.
Faithful Parent: A Biblical Guide to Raising a Family by Martha Peace & Stuart Scott
Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp
*This article first appeared on A Mama's Story