Successful Parenting

We want our children to thrive, and we want to contribute whatever we can to make that happen.

Parenting, of course, is not a precise recipe. Follow the steps and…voila, out pops a fear-of-the-Lord, covenant-keeping, wise young adult. Such parenting would actually oppose the way God does things. All we would have to do is trust in our steps and everything goes fine. Instead, the (much better) system we have received is one where we parent by faith. We trust in Christ every step of the way. We pray tons and love the best we can. Yet, there are some basic directions available to us.

 

Everyone who has children thinks about the question: How can I be an effective or even successful parent? I have yet to meet a parent who simply wanted to pass children off into the next stage of life with basic physical health in tact but nothing more. (Reminds me of the time I babysat a friend’s goldfish while he was on vacation–simple survival—that was my only goal.)

We want our children to thrive, and we want to contribute whatever we can to make that happen.

Parenting, of course, is not a precise recipe. Follow the steps and…voila, out pops a fear-of-the-Lord, covenant-keeping, wise young adult. Such parenting would actually oppose the way God does things. All we would have to do is trust in our steps and everything goes fine. Instead, the (much better) system we have received is one where we parent by faith. We trust in Christ every step of the way. We pray tons and love the best we can. Yet, there are some basic directions available to us.

As I get older I have the opportunity of watching many children grow. Some do well, others don’t. I have a mental file of hundreds of conversations about parenting and have observed almost every kind of parenting style imaginable. Here are some of the tendencies that I have noticed in successful parenting.

Successful parents are always learning about Jesus. This is a no-brainer. A pastor once said that his congregation’s greatest need was his [the pastor’s] sanctification. The same goes for successful parenting. God can use blatant hypocrites, but, as a general rule, parents who have a growing knowledge of Jesus do best.

To be a little more specific, successful parents are able to answer the question: What are you learning about Jesus? “Learning,” in this case, like “knowledge” is no mere academic accumulation of facts. It is the intimate knowledge and learning that take place in the closest of relationships and inspire us to love the other person more deeply. This means that these parents are talking about how they are learning about Jesus rather than lecturing their children about Jesus.

I was in a conversation recently that was headed toward that question: What are you learning about Jesus? I had probably thirty seconds to consider my answer.

It was one of the more painful thirty seconds of my life.

My mind was blank. Nothing to say. I might have been a little embarrassed, but I was more grieved by the dryness of my own heart. So I asked the person to pray that I would never have that experience again.

Successful parents can tell you how they are personally learning about Jesus. Hopefully, that group also includes those who want to be personally learning about Jesus but miss a few days here and there.

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