MR says: No matter how picture-perfect our family life might seem, we all get flustered, we all struggle, and we all need help at times as parents.
We all feel frustrated and torn by specific parenting dilemmas at times. We feel an impulse to act in one way, but we have a nagging uncertainty: “Am I really doing (or planning to do) the right thing?” Other times, we simply don’t know what to do. That feeling of perplexity is one of the burdens of parenting.
This guide is about those problems that keep recurring. I want to suggest a way to deal with those knotty difficulties according to the pattern described in previous articles about godly parenting.
Think of a parenting challenge that you have been wrestling with. Maybe you have continuing tension in your relationship with one child. Or maybe you worry about the decisions of another. Close your eyes and revisit times when you’ve felt a concern about one of your children. Have that situation in mind as you work through these five sections.
Have an Eternal Purpose.
Part of the challenge of parenting is that we are repeatedly blindsided by problems. We are marching merrily through life when a child punches his sister or spills her drink. We are doing well until we are hijacked by life’s wacky messiness.
But this is no accident; it is quite by design. While cool, polite, steady social environments do not test the deeper layers of my character, family life does. It is here that we get the challenges that make us angry more than anywhere else.
God gave us family life as much as anything so we could have lots of practice at keeping an eternal perspective. Family life invites us to sacrifice our convenience and preferences in order to bless people who are still learning. Parenting regularly stretches us toward godliness.
Our Partner in the Process
We must be very careful about our strategy for reforming our parenting. We simply cannot remake our own characters. As C. S. Lewis reminded us: “After the first few steps in the Christian life we realise that everything which really needs to be done in our souls can be done only by God.”5
Thus we learn, in the great scriptural pattern, to constantly call upon God for mercy.
Have mercy that I may be filled with Thy goodness.
Have mercy that I may properly value the children Thou hast given me.
Have mercy that I may know their hearts.
Have mercy that I may be a messenger of Thy love.
Have mercy that I may have the wisdom and patience to teach well.
Have mercy that my soul may be reformed in Thy image.
Have mercy and change my heart and my family.
Through His mercy, we can be changed by His grace. With His help—His love, His nurturing kindness, His guidance for us—we can love, nurture, and guide our families in His way.
Lead image from Meridian Magazine.