Thursday, November 05, 2009

Biblical Parenting

Because it isn't really fair to spend a whole post critiquing a philosophy without putting forth my own for critique, I bring you this post.  But as a brief disclaimer I don't have this all worked out in detail and am still very much in process.  This is most definitely not meant to tell anyone else how to raise their children.  That is between you and God.  


Which brings me to the topic: Biblical Parenting.  May I just say that I don't think there is any such thing. Or at least not how the phrase is typically used.  If by Biblical parenting we mean living our lives in the way God directs us, honoring Him, showing His love to those in our charge, to those we meet along the way, giving the glory for our  lives to Christ,  living out his redeeming work on the cross, and being able to give an answer for the hope that is in us-  then yes, sign me up for Biblical Parenting.  However, if by Biblical parenting we mean a certain way to relate to our children, a certain way to punish them, a certain way to address disobedience and sin, then no thank you.

So what then do I want my parenting to look like? What do I want it to accomplish?  When they are thirty and have families of their own, what will I consider success to look like?


I want my parenting to look, sound, smell, and taste like Christ.  To quote a friend, I want the "sweet aroma of Christ" to permeate every aspect of my home and interaction with my family.  This is no small goal.  I think the first way that this begins is to consider myself a servant of my family.  Not in a "I wait on you hand and foot" sort of servant.  Or even "I never tell you what to do" sort of servant.  But rather, my life for yours sort of servant.  Christ poured His life out for us, and that is what I desire to do for my family- children included.  I am still working out the practical details of this though.  I think it would be easy for me to allow this mindset to let me justify too low of expectations in behavior, to shrug away disobedience.  But that certainly isn't what Christ does for us- He tells us to be perfect as His Father is perfect.  He tells us that those who love Him obey his commands.  But here is the kicker- He then gives us the power to do it.  He doesn't expect us to do it on our own.  It is the spirit of God dwelling within us that He gave us that enables us to become more and more like Him.   Likewise, if I want to give my children high goals to reach and expect obedience from them even when it is difficult, it is me that needs to make that possible.  


So how do I do that? First way I think is very easy- tell them what I expect of them.  If we are about to get out of the car in the parking lot and I want them to wait by their door for me to come to them, I need to tell them.  If I want them to stay out of the bag of candy I left open on the table they need to know that.  These are things that seem obvious to adults (of course I don't want you to have 3 snickers bars for breakfast!) but to children they aren't.  The second way is to make obedience possible by considering their capabilities.  This means that if you have tired and hungry children who want a cookie from the dessert table at church and you don't want them to touch every cookie on the plate that having them go sit down while you get the cookies is a good idea.  Would it be good for them to be able to look at the cookies without touching? Sure.  But it might be asking too much of them.  These are things we need to know.  And to know that we need to know our children.  Really know them.  Their personality quirks, their likes, their weaknesses, what their little looks mean.  God knows each and every hair on our head,  He understands us better than we do ourselves.  And although we might be able to know our children that intimately, we can *really* know them I think.  But a big part of that is getting to know them how they truly are, how God made them, rather than figuring out who we want them to be and then trying to teach them to become that person.   It isn't that we don't need to teach them things, but I want to focus more on teaching them skills, not personality.  


The big thing for me is that my life should be something that they would desire.  If my life is repugnant to them why would they want to obey my rules? Why would they want to learn my skills? And most importantly, why would they want to obey my God?  There is a wonderful piece written here about this very things.  My favorite part:



Your children, O Christian parent, want a Peace and have ample time to perceive it in you. If you have it, Peace not merely placidity, do you know why and can you communicate that why? If they want to be like you (does anyone want to be like you?), they will want to know and they will follow.

(As an aside: they don't want denominational/orthodox peace first and foremost so don't base the home order on catechizing. They need to see you satisfied by the Love of God, obedient by grace not Law, loving your neighbor as yourself, living by reason not passion).


That for me sums up what my parenting should look like.  It should look like Christ.  I have some of the details worked out, but still working on the rest.  I know that I am in a family to serve, not be served.  That if I want obedient children I need to give them the tools to do that.  I know that if my life isn't worth emulating I have missed the mark not only as a parent but a Christ follower as well.  Another post to follow on what I consider success to be and what I consider to be the important things to teach and such.  Until then, off to seek the sweet aroma of Christ.  

5 Comments:

At November 06, 2009 12:22 AM, Blogger Leigh Ann said...

So many good things to think about. Markus and I were just talking today about how our kids will parent and what they will take away from us. That is very convicting. Part of me right now just feels too sick and tired to do anything right now. But I am trying to think of things to do that will allow me to enjoy them and relate to them, and not be so worried and freaked out that we are not following the homeschool schedule.
Thanks again for things to mull over and discuss.

 
At November 06, 2009 1:23 PM, Blogger Tiffany said...

Leigh Ann- what happened to Molly's Blog? I miss checking blogs one morning and she writes a goodbye post? can you fill me in?

 
At November 06, 2009 4:50 PM, Blogger Leigh Ann said...

Her blog is now password protected, in case you haven't gone by there in the last hour or so.
I know she is going through some big things, changes, in the life of her and her kids. So she might want a private place now to process that.
She revealed elsewhere that, on another blog, that she and her husband have been separated because of his abusive behavior. So I think she is in a hard, lonely place.
She did mention that she was shutting down for a few months. Maybe she will be back when things have settled down.
Even though I don't agree with her on everything. I do enjoy reading her thoughts, and she has always been very gracious when you bring and different or opposing view to the table.

 
At November 30, 2009 5:10 PM, Blogger Amie said...

good stuff, thanks for sharing your thoughts, I will probably link you :)

 
At February 06, 2010 9:19 PM, Blogger Amanda said...

Loved this post. Have you read Sally Clarkson's books? Your emphasis reminds me a lot of hers, which is the first place I ever really thought about parenting by the Spirit - just like every other aspect of our lives following Christ. Just another part of our walk with Him.

My greatest reward would be for my children to say "Our Mom made us want to know Jesus".

Thank you for that beautiful reminder. We would be good friends IRL =)

 

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