Do you ever worry if you are doing the right thing in parenting? If your kids are going to turn out okay, or if you are making mistakes without even knowing it?
In life, we judge success by the results. If my garden doesn’t produce, something was wrong with the soil. Or I planted at the wrong time. Or didn’t water often enough, or watered too often. In parenting, however, the results take longer to see. On a day-to-day basis, it can seem like we are accomplishing very little.
We had an instance the other night where a child did something that he had been clearly told not to do, and the best consequence was to take away a privilege. It was a case where it was TOUGH to take away this particular privilege. I wondered if we were being fair, or if somehow we were just making it all worse. Would this child be mad? Would he remember this for years to come and hate us for it? But the disobedience was clear, the consequence had been spelled out ahead of time, and my husband and I both knew that if we don’t hold our kids accountable for their actions we aren’t doing them any favors.
I think we all want assurance that we are doing the right thing.
When I’m seeking the “right thing” what am I trying to find?
I want to know what to do that will bring about the desired result. The thing that will help my children grow up to be individuals who love the Lord and serve Him. The thing that will help my children become productive citizens who do well. The thing that will not make them disappointed with their childhood but will cause them to look back fondly on the years in our home.
These are good things, right?
The problem is that I don’t know what will impact the hearts of my children. I don’t know exactly what actions on my part will have a lasting effect, and what things they will forget or fail to appreciate. I want them to love the Lord, but in the end I really don’t know how they’re going to get there.
Yes I do.
It’s the work of the LORD.
God changes hearts, God gives life to dead souls, God opens eyes to see the need for a Savior. AND – He knows exactly what means He is going to use and when He is going to use them! Does He use His word? Yes. Does He use parents? Yes. Does He use the influence of others? Teachers? Pastors? Friends? Yes. Does He reveal to us ahead of time exactly what He is doing? NO!
So… “Am I doing the right thing (to ensure the results I want)?” is the wrong question. “Why do anything at all if God is sovereign?” is also the wrong question. The right question is, “Am I being faithfully obedient to the commands that God has given me in regards to my children? Am I trusting Him for the specific results that He sees fit, and in His timing?”
Am I praying for my children?
Am I teaching them God’s word?
Am I demonstrating a personal devotion to the Lord?
Am I loving them? Or am I loving what I want more?
Am I speaking kind words to them?
Am I being faithful in disciplining them, or am I overlooking disobedience out of laziness?
Am I fearing the future, or fearing the LORD?
The focus needs to come off of a fear of “messing them up” or a fear of “the journey having more bumps than I wanted it to” or a fear of “the end result not being what I wanted” (because we are not guaranteed our children’s salvation) and onto a fear of the Lord. A respect, awe, and adoration of Him. If my children learn to love God, I can’t take credit for that. And if they are upset because they don’t like God’s Word or because we wouldn’t let them do _____ or go to ______ or watch _____, then the Lord has that in His hands.
My job is to be faithful.
I will make mistakes. I will do the wrong thing. I will need to confess and ask my children’s forgiveness. But my fear of messing up this parenting thing should be swallowed up by my greater trust in God’s GREATNESS and GOODNESS and His sovereignty in the life of my kids.
Resting in that, I can focus on being faithful.
As we were putting the kids to bed the other night, the child who had to miss out on a privilege had a lightbulb moment. We were discussing the issue one last time in an attempt to create reconciliation. The child was convicted of his sin. He started to understand the workings of his heart (I see – I was mad because of _____, and so I started _____ because I wanted to get him back. That was where I went wrong. I see it now.)
Thank you, Lord, for a glimpse of what You are doing. We don’t always see it, but it increases our faith when we do. Help us to be faithful.
Lisa @ This Pilgrim Life Feb 10, 2015
Thank you for the reminder that our part is simply to remain faithful. It is so easy to heap pressure on ourselves and our kids, to want instant results, perfect repentance, and so on. But it often takes a long time and often we can forget to acknowledge the growth that is there because we've moved on to focusing on something else. Just a few days ago, I was talking to my husband about how our little girl (12mo) is starting to really show her temper and how we are needing to start addressing it. I was reminded of how my middle child, who is now 3, used to have a big temper too. It was more overt than his older brother's and I remember wondering what it would be like when he was older. However, when I was talking to my husband, we both realized how much growth he has had in controlling his temper. It wasn't as much of a problem anymore so we didn't even see it. This instance just served as a reminder of how slowly and gradually the change usually is. It definitely gives us hope in training our little girl too :-)
Sarah Feb 12, 2015
My little girl is pretty feisty too! It's definitely going to be an area that we will need to address as well. So true - since we are with our kids every day, it's easy to overlook the progress! Encouraging to hear that your son is doing so well - those realizations can be so helpful.
Becky Feb 11, 2015
Thank you for this beautiful post! I pop into your blog every now and then and this post really captured how I feel about parenting, too.
Sarah Feb 12, 2015
Thanks so much for taking the time to comment!
Rebecca D. Feb 11, 2015
Love this. I'm new to your blog. I actually found you while desperately searching for information on reflux in infants and came across your post from 3 years ago. I'm struggling to get my 4 month old daughter to eat just like you did with your son. Nice to know I'm not alone. Thank you!
Sarah Feb 12, 2015
Oh bummer! Reflux is no fun! My reflux child is now 5, turning 6 this spring. He is hungry ALL THE TIME! I never thought I'd see the day. Feel free to e-mail through my contact tab if you have questions!
Ayana Feb 17, 2015
I've come to your site several times before. As a mother of an 8 year old boy, I am thankful that I have the help of my parents, but have often wondered if I am doing what is right to prepare my son for his future. As I read the series of questions you posted, I cried. I was born and raised in church and although my parents are pastors, they have their relationship with God...and I need to rekindle mine. I need to do that for my son and me. We read bible stories together and he's a smart, insightful boy. He understands on a level that is beyond his years, but if MY life does not reflect what God requires, it may all be in vain.
I thank God for this website and for you and you've got a "fan". I love getting ideas and reading the articles. This one in particular really hit the nail on the head regarding my concerns and worries. Thank you and be blessed. :-)
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