Your Best Parenting May Not Work

Why Children Still Walk Away

Solomon said: “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain” (Psalms 127:1). We were never meant to parent alone. We need God’s strong hands to build our house, and we need his all-seeing eyes to watch over our children, guarding the walls of the city. We fail our children if we attempt to parent them alone.

 

I used to think if Christian parents did everything right, our kids would turn out fine. Now I know that Christian parents will never do everything right. There is no such thing as perfect parenting. And even if we did everything “right,” our kids still may wander away.

My son Nathan is a twin. We parented him and his sister Emma identically. Our daughter became the model Christian daughter, following our Lord faithfully from a young age. But Nathan rejected God. Watching them grow taught me that I couldn’t take credit for Emma’s salvation. God had ultimately done the work. It took longer to learn that I wasn’t responsible for Nathan walking away.

Parenting on Our Knees

When our children reject the faith they’ve known all their lives for the lifestyle of a prodigal, parents are left with serious questions. How can a child who grew up in a solid Christian home turn away with such resolve? Why didn’t my parenting work? Self-blame follows as the Enemy, our accuser, reminds us of our many failures, like the times we’ve sinned against our kids in anger or the days we neglected family devotions. The resulting condemnation pulls our gaze from God onto ourselves, robbing us of our own hope and faith and joy.

We all make enough mistakes that, if God allowed it, the consequences of our sins would ruin our children and land them in prison. I can remember the message God impressed upon my heart through our long and challenging season with Nathan, “I don’t want you parenting standing up. I want you parenting kneeling down.” God designed my parenting trial to humble me and draw me into a closer relationship with him through prayer.

Together with my wife, we learned that parenting is a stewardship from God to be worked out with God’s sovereign help and strength. Solomon said it this way: “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain” (Psalms 127:1). We were never meant to parent alone. We need God’s strong hands to build our house, and we need his all-seeing eyes to watch over our children, guarding the walls of the city. We fail our children if we attempt to parent them alone.

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