God's Perfect Plan For Parenting
Some years ago when we were pastoring and our boys were younger, we had some missionaries stay in our home for several days. After a reminder in how they should behave, they were perfect angels the entire time (this may have qualified as a miracle)! Our plan had worked...or so we thought!
Kids Can Be Good Only So Long
Minutes after our guests left, the boys got into a huge wrestling fight. Separating them Emerson said, “What happened?! You’ve both been so good!” David said, "We can be good only so long." He replied, "But we named you Jonathan and David so you'd be best of friends." To which David replied, “You should have named us Cain and Abel!”
We couldn’t decide whether to laugh or cry!
So there you have it! The missionaries may have thought we had the perfect family. They should have stayed longer!!
No Such Thing As A Perfect Family
We all agree there is no perfect family – in fact, most families experience the Family Crazy Cycle on a daily basis. But we all long for it, and when we see a snapshot of another family that looks so perfect, we think maybe… just maybe it is possible.
Then reality sets in, and we know differently!
But there is a plan to parent God’s way and this plan is the most perfect plan there is. Does that mean if we follow the plan, we’ll have a perfect family? No. Obviously we are all flawed – so perfection is not possible here on earth. But it is possible to succeed at parenting in God’s eyes if we follow His plan regardless. (link to FRC)
Malachi 4:6 says: "Elijah will teach parents how to love their children. He will also teach children how to honor their parents. If that does not happen, I will come. And I will put a curse on the land.” (NIRV).
Wow. That’s pretty heavy. What else does the Bible say about the child/parent relationship?
Be Friendly With Your Kids
The verses on honoring our parents are probably the ones we are most familiar with. But did you know the Bible also instructs us as parents to be friendly towards our children?
Perhaps that’s because our actions don’t always communicate our unconditional (agape) love to our children.
Parents readily admit, “I love my child but I do not like my child.” This is why the older women are to encourage the young mothers to phileo-love their children in Titus 2:4. The Greek word phileo refers to a deep friendship love that includes showing affection, kindness and warmth. Interestingly, a definition also says, “to like.”
In other words, mothers are to be friendlier in the home... and that includes showing their children that they like them! Though moms love their kids unconditionally, they can appear negative and irritated in the home. I struggled with this more times than I want to admit!
As for fathers, though they possess compassion for their children according to Psalm 103:13, kids do not always feel that love as dads provoke their children to anger (Ephesians 6:4) and exasperate them so that they lose heart (Colossians 3:21).
Bottom line: Kids need to feel loved just as parents need to feel respected.
The parent-child relationship is as easy, and as difficult, as love and respect.
Parenting Is For Adults Only
The good news is that when children feel loved they are motivated to respond positively to parents. And when parents feel respected they are energized to be lovingly affectionate with their kids. When these needs are met, good things happen in the family.
That’s the perfect plan.
But of course, living this out is much more difficult on a day to day basis. Ironically, parents who are supposed to be more emotionally mature than their children are often guilty of being just the opposite. And children do not always respond to our love in the way we expect.
But parenting is for adults only. And as adults, the responsibility is on us to act like it.
This week when you feel disrespected and disregarded most likely because of your children’s disobedience or childish behavior, ask God to make you aware of your demeanor when confronting the situation.
Is what I am about to say going to reassure them of my love (both agape and phileo) even though I am not pleased with the situation?
Are my children confident that I like them? What specifically do I need to change to be friendlier?
We will never be perfect parents, and we will never have a perfect family. But parenting according to God’s plan will get us closer!
From my heart, Sarah