As I ponder the parenting styles of the past, I see that I did have guinea pigs to train. I was glad to be an older mom; I had more time to know Jesus after a near-death experience. Someday, I will share my experience.
Before becoming a parent, I deepened my faith in Jesus and let the wisdom gained from mentors (Titus women) fill my mind with options.
We all come from parents who are green, clueless. There is no real handbook on parenting (apart from the Bible); we bring our personal family experiences. Being human and a parent, we learn we are sinners with a need to work on the fruits of the spirit ( Galatians 5). For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want ~ Galatians 5:17 (NIV)
We don’t have a clue how to raise a fellow sinner. As humans, we all sin. So when we decide to be a parent, we decide to join the crowd of the unknown. We must be willing to trim and grow ourselves as we trim and grow our kids in understanding the authority of God over self. We ourselves have to submit to the Lord and His authority.
Sure there are times we forget it is not about us. We see a daily mirror of our kid’s reflection, ah yes, discontentment and the need for gratification over a common team approach of following boundaries and strong wills.
Having kids brings one to a humble place. Before kids, we figure we will be better parents than our own. We ponder the things to keep regarding relationship skills, conflict resolution, and the key communication/ listening. We consider what examples in our past upbringing to dump to the curb. Yes, maybe it’s the quick temper, lack of listening, and validating feelings of pride. Take your pick.
Bits and pieces of our upbringing do filter through to our style of parenting. Homes where a child is not allowed to share thoughts abound. Sadly, stunted children can’t grow to full potential.
Having a relationship with Jesus can guide us to a healthier Godly approach to parenting. However, that means we have to put down our past patterns and be renewed by the wisdom of God.
For some, this is too hard. After all, if we filter out some of our upbringing we are saying we did not live in perfect homes.
I hate to tell you, there is no family without flaws. We all have blemishes. Did that surprise you? We all need a reboot, just like our phones when they have been running on too long. If we don’t shut off the phone, we have glitches, we have a disconnect, which leads to worse problems.
Getting alone with Jesus, His Word, His truth, and promises can provide clarity and maybe a rebuke from Him as we submit our life and parenting to His ways. Discipline in love brings productive fruit, not rot.
Children need direction and boundaries; however, they also need empathy and our listening ears and attention. They matter to God, and they matter to us.
Stephen Arterburn is a wise author with multiple books on parenting; he shared the importance of holding space. Here is an excerpt:
We must be present. We need to listen, validate their feeling even if we do not agree, don’t minimize their feeling, and refrain from judgment.
Mr. Arterburn also shared a description from Brennan Manning, author, and former priest, about the gracious love of God for us.
Jesus Christ, this very moment comes right to your seat and says, “ I have a word for you. I know your whole life story. I know every skeleton in your closet. I know every moment of sin, shame, dishonesty, and degraded love that has darkened your past. Right now, I know your shallow faith, your feeble prayer life, your inconsistent discipleship. And my word is this: I dare you to trust that I love you just as you are, and not as you should be. Because you are never going to be as you should be.”
What a powerful message. Jesus loves you unconditionally as a parent, sister, daughter, son, friend, or human. He loves your children the same unconditional way.
My prayer is that my children would understand the amazing love of their Creator God and that I would be a decent reflection of Him as I parent.
Author: Mary Mesikapp
Mary Mesikapp is a lover of nature, sunsets, mountain drives, and hikes. Mom of 4 (through blessings of open adoption, and our foreign exchange daughter from Brazil), previous Trauma / Emergency room Nurse, past Director of a Pregnancy Resource Center, student of the Bible as study leader and mentor.
Mary has spoken in schools and in churches about life purpose. She learns more about Jesus every day especially through the challenges and looks forward to encouraging women and families to be strong and steadfast in relationships and life.
You can connect with Mary on her website @inspiringlightthroughthecracks