Parenting Like The Ultimate Father

This week's topic is, in a word, Parenting. How have your Christian beliefs affected your parenting? Or, if you don't have children, talk about God as "Father" in your life. I'll just jump right in...

Every now and then a friend says something that really sticks with me and makes me see the world differently. I had one of those moments recently. She said, "I'm not raising children, I'm raising adults."

Isn't that a great way to think of it? Sometimes I get so caught up in the daily struggle that is children and all of their crazy, messy, unpredictable ways, that I forget to keep my eye on the end goal. The end goal is adults. God loving, God fearing, Men and Women. Wow. That's a huge responsibility!

With that goal in mind, I've been thinking a lot lately about how God parents us and how his ways can be applied to my human parent-child relationship. In fact, hubby and I took a class about 4 years ago called "Parenting Is A Ministry". I can't remember all that we discussed (should have taken better notes!), but there are a few points that we implemented and that changed our relationship with our children (or very, very young adults!).

1. God makes his "rules" very clear. There's no guesswork. In fact, he wrote everything on paper (and stone) for us.
2. God is faithful...otherwise known as very predictable and consistent. When he says he'll do something, it gets done.
3. God is loving. He takes joy in us. He shelters us. He comforts us. Even in his discipline, he is loving above all.
4. God is the boss. He gets to make the rules, and he gets to choose the manner of discipline.
5. God treats us with respect. Sure, he makes rules and he disciplines. But he lets us make our choices (and live with the results). He respects us as individuals and does not force himself or his love on us. He doesn't come into our lives until we invite him in.

So how can we apply these same principles as parents?

1. In our family, we took #1 very literally. We wrote our family rules on paper, discussed and explained each rule to the kids...and we also wrote the appropriate disciplines for each rule should it be broken. I think this step was so important for our kids and for us. As parents, we have a game plan ALL of the time. The kids know what's expected of them, and they know what the outcome will be should they choose to break a rule. It's amazingly peaceful to have all of this literally written down.

2. We do our very best to be ultra consistent. Again, it brings peace to our children (and us) for them to know what's expected. If we're not consistent, then they have to live under a cloud of uncertainty and fear.

3. The reason for all this rule making and discipline is our love for our children. We're trying to "raise our children in the way they should go". We do lots of talking and explaining and discussing to help our kids know how to make good choices. And when we do have to discipline, we stick to the plan (from #1) and we do lots of hugs and kisses after their discipline. And by the way, we're not all rules and discipline around here! The VAST majority of our time is spent just enjoying each other as a family and doing fun and silly stuff :)

4. Daddy is the boss around here. We've tried to make it clear through example and discussion that Mommy and Daddy are partners...a team...but that Daddy is ultimately the "boss". We also let the kids know that the Lord is Daddy's "boss". The kids get a kick out of that :)

5. We make it a point to treat our children with respect. What does this look like in practical terms? We give them privacy when they want it, we say "please" and "thank you" all of the time, and we express our appreciation of them and their good choices (not just as a "positive discipline" tactic, but as a genuine show of respect). When hubby or I mess up, we apologize to the offended party and ask for forgiveness. And we give them choices. Sometimes they don't like the choices presented to them...but they get to choose none the less :) We truly love and respect our children as unique individuals, and try to treat them in a way that shows it.

We're not perfect parents, by any stretch. As I indicated, we mess up...plenty! But at the end of the day, I hope even our moments of weakness will teach our children valuable lessons. I hope they learn what it means to be a responsible, loving, compassionate child of our Almighty God. After all, that's what we're trying to teach them to be...not good kids, but great adults.

How about you? How has God helped you to be a better parent?

Seek The Lord Sunday Participants
1. Home with Amy
2. Andrea\'s Life
3. Everyday Becky
4. Kimberly

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Anonymous –   – (7/26/2008 10:46:00 PM)  

wow oh gosh, god has helped me in so many ways in regards to being a better parent. One thing I've found the most valuable is that if you're wrong, apologise for it, simple as that. It helps that our children seen we aren't perfect, we do make mistakes and that we are willing to humble ourselves for them.


Vansmom  – (7/27/2008 01:15:00 AM)  

Good stuff! I hope and pray that I am the mom that God and The Boy need me to be!

Becky Avella  – (7/27/2008 11:04:00 AM)  

I am so thankful I don't have to parent alone, without God's help. I'd be a mess just from the fear of doing it all wrong.

I'm sorry that my post is having spacing issues...Blogger is not my friend this morning. I can't get any paragraph breaks. Oh well..that's free for you, right? : )


Becky Avella  – (7/27/2008 12:32:00 PM)  

THANK YOU for the tip for paragraph spacing. I tend to have this problem a lot on Blogger and I'm so happy to know how to fix it. This would make a good Works for Me Wednesday tip.

: ) B

Marlayna  – (7/28/2008 12:57:00 PM)  

I loved reading this. God has helped me to be a better parent by joining a prayer group called Moms Intouch (MITI). I get together with another woman and we pray only for our children, focused solely on them and their activities and school and our family relationships.... anything that involves only our children. I have stopped being a "yelling parent", I have learned to be more patient. I have always been loving and respectful. But my patience was truly lacking. This is a wonderful prayer group that all mom's should look in to joining or starting.

My husband and I are not on the same page though, like you and yours. We go to church as a family, he is a lay minister (elder) in our church, has high religious expectations. But he really doesn't have much of a relationship with God, that I witness. He doesn't pray, that I see. He has grown so much in the last year or so since I started reading Power of a Praying Wife. Not that I am taking any credit, I give it all to God. So I don't mean to say he is a bad parent. But he is short tempered, somewhat disrespectful to the kids, rough around the edges. He demands good behavior and Christ-like behavior, but the kids are expected to just do it, and not learn from example. And whta I hate the most is his bad language. I don't mean for John to sound awful. He really isn't. I just pray that he will open his heart to a book or a prayer group that he can learn from the way that I have. He spends time with the kids, they love him and respect him, he teaches the importance of hard work and teaches them from his youth experiences, which the boys love. He even lets my daughter dress him up with her hats and purses. He is a good dad, I just wish that I saw more Christ-like parenting from him.

Thanks for a really great entry. And sorry this is so long. :)

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