Finishing up my series on parenting has been a struggle. I kept remembering there was one part left to write, and then in the next minute I would feel drawn to write something else. In honor of Mother’s Day, I decided to finish it up!
If you need a refresher, here are the links to Part 1 and Part 2. Previously, we discussed how God intended the family to look and function. We also discussed how grace covers where the ideal is lacking in our family situations. Today we are going to wrap it all up with what I call the Trifecta of Parenting.
Parenting is a tag team event. We are all gifted differently and so are our spouses, so I am going to steer away from our cultural definitions of what a mother or a father should be and direct you right back to what the Bible says a parent should be.
A parent is something we choose to be. I choose to be a mother. A mother or a father is someone who cares for a child physically, mentally, and spiritually. Those are the three key ways we parent – The Trifecta of Parenting.
We will start with the role of taking care of our children physically. In 2 Corinthians 12:14-15 Paul alludes to how parents take care of their children. It should not be the burden of a child to care for a parent, but parents should save up and be spent for their children. This is the design. Parenting requires sacrificial love when it comes to providing for our children. There is no tired like the tired of a mother or father who gives their all to the household each day. There is a reason women can not have children after a certain age! Mothering requires vast amounts of energy and strength. (As does fathering, except many times it is a different kind of energy and/or strength.)
Titus 2:3-5 describes the role of a godly woman and it includes physically taking care of the household, which is one of the many ways we physically care for our children. Genesis 3:17-19 describes the future of all fathers that started with Adam, to be the provider for the family. Hebrews 12:7-11 describes the father as the disciplinarian as well. Does this mean that a father can not help with the household responsibilities and a mother can not provide financially or discipline? No. As I said earlier, we are all gifted differently, but I think it is wise that we should not ignore the importance of the biblical structure for families. Believe me, stay at home soccer mommy isn’t coded in my DNA, but God gives me the grace to stay home and care for my children day by day, because He has called me to do it.
Although physically caring for our children seems clear cut, we need to be mindful that how we care for them has an effect on them. We need to make sure we are serving out of love and not just obligation. Even though we may not verbally express it, children can sense whether you are doing something because you want to or because you have to.
The next area that we will discuss is the mental care of our children. I would say caring for our children’s mental health means more than just making sure we do not cause them to be under unnecessary stress or that we do not intentionally hurt them emotionally. Mental health also includes how we view the world around us. One of our roles as a parent is to help mold the way our children view the world around them. We want to ensure that they view it through the lenses of godliness, with as few scratches from our shortcomings as possible.
The most important priority in the mental care of our children is that we ensure they know without a doubt that we love them. As Proverbs 10:12 says, love covers a multitude of sin. Love allows our children to have a healthy world view. Not only do they need to know that we love them, they also need to know that God loves them. Often the cause of rebellion with children is that they feel unloved or rejected. This does not only include by parents, but if they are not healthy in their mentality about how God loves them, it can include Him, and/or other close people in their lives. Feeling secure in who we are leads us to make better decisions in life, and we want to give our children the best chance possible.
Molding your child’s world view also includes regular correction and discipline as needed. I believe Psalm 23:1-4 does a great job of showing the difference between the two.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. (Psalm 23:1-4)
In Psalm 23:4 David says that the Lord’s rod and staff bring him comfort. A rod is a large stick or club that a shepherd uses to defend the sheep from attacks. A staff is the long stick with a hook on the end that the shepherd uses to correct the sheep. The staff would be symbolic of how we correct our children. This would be the talking through of things or physically redirecting their actions.
The rod is symbolic of discipline. I feel like discipline is a touchy subject. There are “opinions” everywhere you look about discipline, but the one opinion that holds weight is God’s and the Bible is very clear that if we love our children, we will discipline them. I do not know your families or your children personally, so I am providing a variety of scriptures about discipline at the end of this post. I believe that discipline can take a variety of forms. In our household, depending on the transgression and child, we use time outs, we take things away, we use positive reinforcements, sticker charts and we spank. I do feel that is important to have a variety of tools at your disposal. Every child is different.
If I could give one piece of advice that I gathered from teaching and my few years as a parent – being proactive is way better than being reactive when it comes to discipline. If you are proactive you are going to be much less likely to discipline out of a place of anger than if you are reactive. Ephesians 6:4 is directed to fathers but applies to mothers as well.
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)
We always want to make sure we are parenting in love, and we should discipline because we love our children, not just because they are upsetting us
The last area I will discuss when it comes to parenting today is the area of spirituality. Contrary to popular belief, children are not born innocent. They may be awfully sweet, but they’re not fully innocent. Job 15:14 says “What is man, that he can be pure? Or he who is born of a woman, that he can be righteous?” When two sinners come together, what we create is another sinner. The sooner we accept this truth, the sooner we can be better parents. I would hope that none of you have stiff armed your spouse, ripped something out of his hands, and screamed “Mine!” at the top of your lungs. Or thrown yourselves on the floor in a fit of desperation when you didn’t get your way. But I guarantee all of you parents have a child who has done one of those things.
As much as we would love to believe this is learned behavior, it is not. It is innate. Yes, children gain bad habits from other children, but just like the rest of us, their real struggle is against their own flesh. That is why God gave them parents – to physically provide for them, teach them self-control, and to guide them towards Him. That is it. We are not here to guarantee their salvation or control their lives. We are here to help prepare them for the works God has in store for them.
So how do we prepare our children spiritually? Well, this is one of the easier explanations. We teach them to seek God in His Word, through prayer, and through Praise and Worship. We try to be a living example. Deuteronomy 6:5-9 makes it very clear that our love for the Lord should be seen in everything we do and mentioned consistently.
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:5-9)
Parenting is a tough job. When God told Eve in Genesis 3:16 that she would have much pain in bringing forth children, I believe He meant for longer than just their actual physical birth. Raising a child is painful at times, but it can be so rewarding. Eve became familiar with that pain all too well when her son Cain killed her other son Abel. Even though it ended tragically, I am sure Eve still found her children to be a gift. I am sure she even still loved Cain regardless of the pain he caused her.
We know that children are a beautiful gift, formed in the womb by God. Our children are a made to order gift. While God was creating them, he saw all their days.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. (Psalm 139:16)
While God was creating us, He saw all of our days as well. And as those two stories intertwined, He wove in His perfect plan. He didn’t make any mistakes. He gave you who you needed as a child and who your child needed as a parent. I believe with all my heart that God uses our children to help develop us spiritually, and His plan is to use us to develop our children spiritually.
I will say it again – parenting is a tough job. It is also a lifelong job. Parenting also has lifelong repercussions.
Although there is a lot of responsibility on our shoulders, I do want to offer comfort for those of us that have given our all and still have children that have rebelled and gone wayward. I was one of those children in the past, and I can say with all my heart that even though my parents made mistakes, they did the best they could with what they had, and I own the mistakes I made. The Bible is clear that our children have their own free will. You will be responsible for your actions, and your children will be responsible for theirs.
I will conclude with a piece of wisdom from Proverbs 22:6. It says, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” One way I have heard this interpreted is “Start a child in the opening of the course of life and when he grows up he will not lack direction.” I love that interpretation.
We can offer our child a road map to life. We can train them how to read the map, and give them their own genuine copy, with their own personal trail highlighted by their Guide. But it is up to our child whether or not they ever use it.
I pray that God grants me the grace of seeing my children following the path He created for them. I pray that He does the same for each of you. What a blessing that will be.
All need grace and all is grace, friends!
Scripture on Discipline
Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him (Proverbs 13:24)
Discipline your son, for there is hope; do not set your heart on putting him to death. (Proverbs 19:18)
Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. (Colossians 3:20-24)
And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:5-11)
The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother… Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart. (Proverbs 29:15,17)
Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die. If you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from Sheol. (Proverbs 23:13-14)
Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him. (Proverbs 22:15)