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

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Difficult Task of Parenting

Why is parenting so difficult? This is the question that often looms over my head. Yet, I know exactly why. Parenting is difficult because we are trying to reach the heart of our children.

How many of us resisted the call of God  before God broke through, and changed our heart from a heart of stone to a heart of flesh, opening our eyes to the truth of His Word? Well, our children's hearts are hearts of stone, and our task as parents is to lead them to Christ, and pray that God will change them, just as He did with us.

So, do we sit and wait for God to do His miraculous work in our children? Of course not. We are told "Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it." We are to train our children in God's ways. We are to impress His Word upon them. We are to teach, correct, convict, discipline, and train so that they know right from wrong, so that their conscience may be attuned to what is right. God uses His Word to bring sinners to Him, so we must teach it to our children.

I know I find parenting difficult because we are called to be diligent in teaching our kids, when we ourselves still need to learn so much.

Teaching often seems easy. What parent does not know how to lecture his child about a certain issue? Even then, we still need to learn to teach effectively, that is, learning to appropriate every moment as a teaching opportunity, and learning to use Scripture in our teaching.  But, how many of us know how to correct and convict? How many of us know how to probe our children's hearts so as to reveal the underlying sin and attitude behind any behaviour and action, and then address it with Scripture? I can't even decipher mine often times (thank God for my godly husband who is good at helping me in that area). Yet, this is our task and we must seek to apply ourselves in accomplishing it, if we want to fulfill our mandate as parents for God's glory.

Lastly, I would be remiss if I did not emphasize the need to pray for our children day and night, specifically for their salvation. Despite all our efforts, which at best can produce moral God-fearing children, unless the Lord changes their heart, our work is incomplete. So, one of our prime responsibilities as parents is to plead and plead for them before the throne of grace.

I would like to recommend two books which have really helped me in shaping my understanding of my role as parent:

37191: Shepherding a Child"s Heart, Revised and Updated
Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp. In this book, Pastor Tripp (I happen to know him personally) lays out God's mandate to us as parents. It is a very foundational work if you are going to understand your role as a parent, and if you want to parent God's way.

540009: Instructing a Child"s HeartHe also has written a companion book to this one called Instructing a Child's Heart which I would highly recommend as well.

Teach Them Diligently by Lou Priolo. In this book, Lou Priolo outlines the contours of biblical parenting by unpacking what it means to teach, correct, convict and train our children using Scripture. 

99441: A Mother"s Heart: A Look at Values, Vision, and  Character for the Christian Mother--Revised A Mother's Heart by Jean Fleming looks at the mother's heart and points us in the right direction of godly attitude, vision and goal for parenting

Other helpful books would be:

Give Them Grace by Elyse Fitzpatrick
Don't Make me Count to Three by Ginger Plwman
Grace Based Parenting Tim Kimmel
Everyday Talk by John A. Younts


Anonymous said...

Great post Joelle! This has been on my heart also. It is so hard to get to the heart issue of the matter. Sometimes I wonder if it is rebellion or lack of self control, etc... All we can do is pray for discernment. Salvation is a work of God , not us, and I am glad because if it were up to my parenting kids would not have a chance. I need so much improvement!!!

I also have the book, Shepherding a Child's Heart. Great book! I need to reread it. I don;t have the other book ( forget title) but I do have one of his other books.

I may do a post soon on this subject also. It is so strong on my heart.

Have a great day!


Anonymous said...

Thank you for passing that on Joelle. It goes right along with what we are reading in the book. It is frustrating to try to teach my children when I feel so inadequate in my own spiritual life. Prayer is most definitely the most important thing!!

Anonymous said...

that last comment was from Elizabeth at www.busymama7, I forgot it would show up anonymous!

umanjoelle said...

Yes, I have read that book as well and it is a good one too. This is exactly what I have been doing. I try to always make a conscious effort to have them verbalize what it is they have done wrong and why they think they did what they did. I try as much as possible to not give them the answer, but let them figuring it out themselves by asking questions. Also, when they say sorry, I always have them say why they are sorry, and what they are sorry about.

linkmama said...

Sounds like we do things a lot alike! Your children are little though, so I would not hesitate to prompt them if they really do not know what they did wrong. You are still in the discipline phase of parenting so you will be doing more teaching and training because they are little. As they get into the elementary school age, they will take on more and more responsibility in this area as they move toward moral maturity. :)

umanjoelle said...

Yeah, definitely. Thanks for your input. I do find myself having to give the answer often time and explain over and over again what God requires of us. But that's good for me too I guess. :-)

Anonymous said...

I love this because so many times I am so impatient to correct my children's behavior that I forget about their hearts and the heart I want them to have towards God and towards me. Thank you for this!!

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