In Which I Process Some Thoughts on Parenting

I’m scared to write this post. It is a complicated subject that I’d like to tackle, but I want to begin to process my thoughts on the matter. Not because of my past, but because of my future. You see, I’m a parent, and I aspire to be a homeschooling parent. But, 20 years from now, I don’t want my kids to be writing the stories I’m reading.

What stories? This is my confession: I have come across some stories lately (but even somewhat before this) of homeschooled children (now adults) who endured abuse in its many forms, emotional, verbal, physical and even spiritual abuse and I’ve been reading them. They hurt my heart. I see the devastating effects of sin, especially sin committed in anger or the sin of pride that comes out as playing the part of God in another’s life.

They scare me and shake me to my core because I can’t just vow to myself that I will never ever be that sort of parent. I’ve been angry before, too angry, and it scares me. I have a side of me that wants to control my children’s behavior and just make them listen. Why don’t they listen?!? I’ve heard myself say and complain.

I read about the punishments meted out. I read about the lack of affection given. I read about the fear and even terror that some children grew up with. Children who did not want to be in the presence of their mom or their dad. I have to wonder, how is that even possibly biblical? I conclude it isn’t. My Bible talks about God inviting me, indeed, compelling me to come boldly into God’s presence. I am to look forward to meeting with My Father. His Son endured the Cross, despising the shame, so that I could come boldly into the presence of God.

Now, I also know that the Bible does talk about God being a Father who disciplines. I know that teaching my children what is appropriate behavior and to respect people and honor God is my God-given duty. I’m not advocating permissive parenting where I just let my children do whatever. But learning to parent is a struggle for me.

The biggest reason why I struggle is because of my own experience with God as my Father doesn’t always match up with what my knowledge of supposed “biblical parenting” is. If I could give you one verse that defines my relationship with God as my Father, it would be Romans 2:4, specifically the phrase that says that it is God’s goodness that leads us to repentance.  

Other translations use the word kindness in the place of goodness. Kindness seems more specific and it is often the word that I think of. God’s kindness to me has led me to repentance on multiple occasions. God’s grace has humbled me in such a loving way.

My God has not ever lashed out at me in His anger. My Father covered my sins, my wrongs, my mistakes, my “not listening moments” with the blood of His Son. My Father God cared about His relationship with me so much that He did something about it. That is what my God did.

If that has been my experience in my personal relationship with God as my Father, would I not be remiss to parent that way with my children? Shouldn’t my goal in parenting to be to show my children what the Gospel looks like? What redemption is?

Sometimes, I feel like supposed “biblical parenting” requires that my goal be unconditional, unquestioning, outward obedience and outward respect without talking about how God redeems the sin we all inevitably commit. There doesn’t seem to be much room for grace.

Those stories that I read, I keep reading of parents who tried to make their children treat them like they hoped the child would eventually treat God. The parents were to be obeyed as if they child was obeying God, reverenced as if the child was reverencing God.  And I agree to a point that children need to be taught obedience and respect, but I’m scared that if I require that they treat me like I was God, then I might begin to think of myself too highly.

I’d rather personally look at God my Father and look at how He has so graciously parented me and then try to model that for my children.

These really are the beginnings of thoughts and hopefully actions that I take in my parenting. I’m far from a perfect parent. I’ll never be a perfect parent, but I do want to do my best. I want the Gospel to transform my parenting. I am going give God my five loaves, two fish, two mites or whatever else I have and I am going trust Him to do the rest.

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