In case you haven’t noticed, good parenting is the latest trend. And as all trends go they must be observed. But I recently had to put an end to my obsessive searches for and skimming through various Instagram stories and blogs. Like a madwoman, I would scroll on my phone, through the stories of the newest and hippest Instagram influencers with the ‘clearest’ voices on parenting with the right picture-perfect hipster images. Cringe! My social media binge usually left me either with a gut-wrenching sense of defeat since I had obviously just failed at the newly posted parenting cue or a piercing grotesque sense of pride that said “You only just now figured this out?! Honey, I knew that a decade ago.”
Admit it. You too have joined me and so many others in chasing down the newest method, the latest scientific discovery, the best and ‘rightest’ approach with that key phrasing and pertinent mom —dad— tone. Please don’t misinterpret my sass for disrespect. I am certain that in many ways they are better parents than I have ever been or will ever be. As a matter of fact, in many ways, I do want to work towards the right phrasing and pertinent tone. I have been in my house too long and have too many children to not have noticed the look in their eyes when I blow it. I so want to do better!
But I find that I often approach these methods in search of the magic wand to keep our children from the stupidity of our youth. At times I have parented out of the fear of man, the fear of the ‘what if?’—how can I avoid raising children who have emotional outbursts when they are in their 30s?—But recently I have adapted the method of parenting called ‘ get on your knees Nayomi’. A three-step method of much prayer, the study of Scripture and staring long and hard at the wisdom of God so beautifully and adequately displayed through the work of the Cross of His Son Jesus.
Yes, we can all change. Lord knows I have come a long way, but still have a long way to go. I have heard it before, I have read it before, I have told myself a thousand times before, “Don’t yell or get angry so quickly. Don’t nag or overcorrect. Let them learn to make choices. Teach them to help, serve, love.” and the list of chores on how to raise intellectually and emotionally sound children goes on and on.
But at almost 43, I am more concerned that I might be raising intellectually, irresistibly and emotionally mature fools devoid of the fear of the Lord rather than disciples; ones who are love and faith-filled but dumb in the eyes of the world. The first place to parent our children from is from our knees—intercession before a holy God. He is the only God who can bring dead things to life. Because that is what your children are, after all. They are dead to Christ and alive to sin. They are cute and cuddly, but they are dead. Their souls are devoid of the knowledge of God, the fear of the Lord and the things we think are cute or naughty are just miniature evil hearts at work, not yet able to display full-blown rebellion. As good as it is to have good behaving children, at some point they’ll grow up and so will their sinful hearts.
I don’t want to continue to circumvent sin with a faulty methodology. I forget that sometimes, the best of parents have been met with the same patches of pain and perplexity as some of the worst parents I know. At that moment we, the world around them, default to deconstructing their parenting style and examining all the areas where those parents have most certainly failed. But the human sinful condition that was at work in the hearts of their children is rarely considered a culprit. Perhaps we have forgotten “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for the LORD has spoken: “Children have I reared and brought up, but they have rebelled against me.” Isaiah 1:2.
If you read the books and the posts please don’t stop. Feel free to give me the reader's digest version. As a matter of fact, I intend to share mine about the new parenting book I just purchased and am very much looking forward to diving into. But I will not dare forget finding myself on my knees. Not only in my “Oh help me Jesus” prayers. But also the ones through which I declare the finished work of the cross over my children. The ones where I declare His ability to lead them and us as their parents. Here we create room for Him to make the difference for our daily parent fails because He is after all the God who is with us. He is the God who is with us in our parent “fails”. It is through our prayers and with the help of the Spirit of Jesus we labor for the righteous upbringing of our children (Philippians 1:19).
But there is yet more. In all of our book, blog, and Instagram story reading and watching, we cannot forget the sacred Scriptures through which we gain something more precious than smarts, methods or cues. Through the Word of God, we grow in faith; our weapon to preserve and save our souls (Hebrews 10:39). And by sheer proximity, we are teaching our littles to do the same. Through the Scriptures we gain life-giving wisdom; a gift only received from Him. It is the much-needed light on this often dark and seemingly, lonely journey called parenting or just life in general.
Several months ago, my son was handed a Bible by Dr. Brandon Park, senior pastor of a church in the KC-metro area called Connection Point Church. When Pastor Brandon was finished handing each first grader their International Children’s Bible (a version which I highly recommend), he said something to the effect of: “Now make sure you read at least one proverb a day.” I had heard this before but had never thought of doing it with my now 1st grader. Justice and I have not always made it through one proverb a day, but we have made it through at least half of one. Up to this point the Word of God has served as the greatest parenting tool I could ever have purchased. Through it, He teaches our son. The Word is teaching him what it looks like to live with wisdom and what the Lord says to and about fools.
At the conclusion of chapter 13, Justice looks at me and says, “Mom this book is making me scared”. “Well buddy”, I replied, “ that is just the point and unfortunately most adults lack that ‘scaredness’ also known as reverence, the fear of the lord.
Today, Justice understood it and he pictured it. Perhaps not in its fullest but enough to make him consider his own ways. Why we have found it necessary to replace the one Book of living words with all the self-help books in the world, I will never understand. That is a thing that only a fool would do!
Comparison kills us. It morphs us into clones and strips us of authentic sonship. Let’s stop comparing ourselves to that parent or this parent; to that posted advice or this advice. Most of it is presented to look simple and picture-perfect but is so darn hard to imitate. Some are writing about their best days while others, their worst ones in order to represent “vulnerability.” But self-disclosure that doesn’t point others to the magnificence of Jesus or boast of His grace at work in us, is nothing more than pimping ourselves for content and likes. I have done this before. It is grimmy and it sticks to the souls of both the reader and the writer. It provokes others to make me the standard for their lives, and robs Christ of the adoration He deserves. In other words, it is self-exaltation.
It was this realization which changed my obsessive post-reading and note-taking. It was the strong yet silent whispering voice which said “Some of the readings may be useful but all of the Bible is useful. It’s nice your comments and concerns on social media are heard by some. But it’s better to know your prayers to God are always heard! Some of social media’s content is inspirational. But all of the Bible is God-inspired. Some methods are factual. But all of the Word of God is the truth and is able to set us and our children free from the sickness of sin”.
Oh, that we might all recall the basics of getting to know Him for ourselves so that we may parent our children from the place of a genuine relationship with Christ, from our knees, through the study and imitation of His Word. Here, we are transformed into Christ’s disciples, sons and daughters of God and by example, discipling our children to become the same. Let us worry less about being good parents and work towards being obedient sons. True sons, live the life of the cross, and bear the fruit of the Sprit our children are able to eat.