Thou shalt make your children eat broccoli. Thou shalt not
give your child an unsterilized pacifier. Thou shalt let your teen sleep in on
Saturdays. I've searched the Bible from cover to cover and never found specific
parenting advice like this.
While the Bible says a lot about parenting, there are very
few specific instructions on how to parent. At times I've wished God had been
as specific about motherhood as He was about the dimensions of Noah's ark or
the preparations for a thank offering.
Some books and programs claim to know exactly how God wants
us to parent our children. As solid as the advice may be, this type of thinking
runs the danger of promoting a Christian formula — and formulas can result in a
prideful approach to parenting and independence from God. You might believe you've
found the secret to balancing love and discipline, and sheltering your kids
while raising evangelists, but 1 Corinthians 10:12 admonishes, "If you
think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall!"
Parenting formulas can result in bitter disappointment.
Raising children is not like a math equation that guarantees the right result.
The perfect balance of discipline, love and Bible teaching does not equal
passionate Christian adults when our kids are grown.
If God wanted us to have a precise method, He would have
given us one. He could have spelled out how long a timeout should be for a
3-year-old who lied. He could have instructed us on how to respond when a
17-year-old comes home after curfew. But He didn't.
Instead of providing detailed techniques, God invited us
into a relationship. While we parent our children, He parents us.
God doesn't want mathematicians who figure out the perfect
calculation to make the perfect child. He wants parents who desperately cling
to His promises, humbly hang on His every word and trust Him regardless of the outcome.
As I learn to resist the formula approach to parenting, I'm
reminded of Proverbs 8:34, "Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching
daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway." I love the imagery of waiting
daily for my Father to teach me as I teach my kids.
Recently someone asked me, "How do you know if you're a
good mom?" My response was simple. "I know I'm a good mom when I'm
first a good daughter." Great mothering begins and ends with a dependence
on the daily guidance of my heavenly Father.
Dr. Juli Slattery is a former co-host of the Focus on the Family broadcast and founder of Authentic Intimacy.
This article appeared in the October/November 2012 issue of
Thriving Family magazine and was titled "Trusting God." Copyright © 2012 by Focus on the Family.
Used by permission. ThrivingFamily.com.
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