For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this not of yourselves it is the gift of God, not of works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Reflections on Parenting - Part 1

A few months back, I wrote a post about why parenting was such hard work, Basically what I said, was that it is hard work because it is heart work and we cannot change hearts. We do have to persevere in pointing our kids to Christ, whose concern is to change  hearts. It demands perseverance, repeated discipline and instructions. It is plainly laborious.

Today I would like to expand on these thoughts.

I find that even though we know all these things, it still gets quite frustrating to train our kids in godliness and character. They often time just don't get it, or so it seems. We do not see rapid improvements. It seems to be the same ,day in and day out, often times. And that can be rather discouraging at best or irritating at worst.

The fact is, christian discipleship and training is not about immediate results, but long term results. We are not in the business of changing surface behaviours (although it will be affected), but affecting hearts for eternity.That often means long awaited results. Training that is focused on the immediate will give instant behavioural change, but not necessarily the heart change, and the conviction of what is right versus wrong, that we need.

The problem though, at least with me, is that I am impatient. I cannot wait until God does that heart work. I want my kids to obey NOW, to act the right way NOW, to be cooperative NOW, basically to behave NOW. And that kind of attitude has caused me to become impatient with them, easily angered, and not always loving and understanding (at least in action).

Am I saying we need to lower the standards and the expectations for the sake of being more loving and understanding? No. I am saying that just as we need to keep the expectations high, that is behaviour that is in accordance to what is right ( obedience, being responsible, kindness, and the like), we also need to be aware and actually expect that it is not going to happen right away. Even if we have been correcting, disciplining and teaching about something for weeks, we may still not see the results that we are looking for. God is the one effecting the change, not us, not our words, not our actions. His timetable is not ours. He works through us, and that only makes us responsible to do what we were called to do that is  "Train them up in the way they should go . . .".

What we are trying to do is more than just changing their actions and behaviours. We are trying to lead them to Christ for the salvation of their soul, which in return will produce kids, or adults that love the Lord and will act in a way worthy of His name.

How do we do that? We point them to Christ. Every correcting and disciplining time is a prime time to point them to their need of Christ. We are sinners, we cannot do anything right, but Christ can, and he can help us. He is righteous, he is the sinless one, who took on our sins and paid for them. In Him we have life, the forgiveness of sin and the power to live  the way we ought to.

We train and teach all the time; that is why we have Bible devotions and the likes with our kids, but that work is just the beginning. We are planting, so that in time of correction, we can recall these truths and apply them. Disciplining times are not the only time for teaching. We need to teach when the child is not being the target. During disciplining time we merely demonstrate how the truth learned applies and their urgent  need for Christ.

Case in point. Last week I was having some issues with my older child. He has serious issues with trust, submitting to authority and being self-reliant and self-centered. I sent him in his room, actually his bed, where he was to spend the day. He was allowed christian books, Scripture songs and paper and crayons. I asked him to draw a picture of how he felt. He drew a picture of himself with a black heart. When I asked him about it, he said, "Well, everyone is a sinner, right? so . . ." That is his feeling. He thinks since we are all sinners, sinning and misbehaving is what we do. I had the great opportunity to show him how that is true but there is good news in Jesus. He can cleanse our heart and help us not to sin. We do not have to sin if we believe in Jesus and rely on him. Later that day he drew another picture with a white heart.

Now, just because it happened like that today does not mean that he is changed. I am not to expect him to not act wrongly ever after. That's setting myself for big disappointments. But, a seed is being planted that will need watering and watering, and more food and more food, until that day when God, I trust and hope, will get hold of him.

We have a big task, but the one who gave us our children as a gift, can also  give us the grace we need to train them. We only need to go to Him for help, wisdom and grace. We certainly cannot do this on our own and the whole experience is meant to grow us too, as children of God, to His image .

I will have a part 2 on this topic to reflect on another goal of training, correcting and disciplining our kids: Helping them love God, his ways and standard, basically love what is right.


» Beautiful Blogger Award-Thanks! Creative Learning said...

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Joelle- your great Blog has been awarded the "Beautiful Blogger Award"! Here is the link to find out all the details and get your graphic if you want to post it:

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