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.
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.