I'm Not Parenting For My Children

It happened again.

I was hiding behind the cabinets in my kitchen. Legs sprawled out in front of me, leaning back into the tightest corner, eyes fastened at a fuzzy point in the distance.

I was done.

I rolled back through the past several days in my mind. I had kept the house clean. All the laundry was done. Dinner was homemade. My kids were played with, bathed, cuddled, and read to. I disciplined sin, addressed weaknesses, and taught little lessons every day. Honestly, it was a triumph of grace in my life... faithfulness and consistency are not my strong suits. But God has been growing me, and I'm reaping daily fruit in a clean house and consistent parenting.

But it wasn't working.

In the next room, my daughter screamed like she was being scalped. Something horrific had probably just happened... probably something as horrible as... HER BROTHER LOOKED AT HER. I know. I'm horrified, too. And after a day of teaching, discipling, correcting, and instructing... I was hiding.

Even though my faithfulness had grown some tiny little muscles (I am so proud of those tiny muscles!), I had forgotten why I was doing this. I had forgotten why I'm a parent. God decided that I was going to do this. However much control you may think you have over becoming a parent: let it go. You have no control. God chose this for me, and he laid out a somber, holy task: 

You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
— {Deuteronomy 11:18-19}

Did you read that? Really? Not just a Sunday-School skim?

We are to take God's words and pile them into our lives, saturate our souls, and let them be visible like the backs of our hands. We are to stuff every single moment of every single day with God's truth. We are to inundate our children with the glory and beauty and power of God's commands.

Parenting is not about me.

It's not even about my children.

It's about God's glory and a tangible, lived-out-in-flesh object lesson of his commands.

When parenting becomes about results, my soul shrivels. Parenting was not meant to be about "results." Children sitting quietly for an hour in church, peaceful grocery trips, saying "no" and hearing a "okay, Mommy": these are all results. They are good things. They are desirable things. They are things that our children should learn... but they are not the heart and soul of parenting.

The heart and soul is recognizing this somber task that God has given me... and doing it for His glory.

Regardless of how my kids turn out, I want to stand before God, blameless. My tired, aching hands stretched out, "Lord, I did it all. I stuffed every moment of this journey with YOU, because YOU are who I craved. YOU are who I was trying to please."

However, parenting isn't like Russian roulette. It's not some brutal, 18 year-long gamble. While it's true that we can't dictate the final life choices of our children, nor can we save their souls, it is true that we can help them in their journey.

And God has a beautiful way of making that happen.

You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
— Deuteronomy 11:19

Did you see that? The enormity of that task? Teach your children about God and his commands IN EVERY SINGLE MOMENT OF EVERY SINGLE DAY IN EVERY SINGLE WAY.

Yeah. That's not a big job...

God is insistent that you teach. And not just half-heartedly, or when you happen to remember. He said DILIGENTLY.

I believe that almost every Christian parent firmly believes that they are responsible to teach their children. I also believe that our approach to teaching is thoughtless, often lazy, and definitely haphazard. 

Don't forget to teach your children. You have to do it. Something bigger than a seamless trip to the grocery store is at stake. 

Follow Deuteronomy. Saturate your day.

1. Plan a date with your spouse. If you're a single parent, plan a date with yourself. Pray together for your children. Make a list of each child's strengths and weaknesses. Then map out ways to tackle the weaknesses and encourage the strengths. Write it down and put it in your planner. Be intentional. Be goal oriented. Be specific.

2. Utilize resources to help you stuff your days full of truth. I've included a bunch in the margin of this post. (If you're reading this on your phone, they will be at the bottom of your page.) Use people with time, gifts, and a variety of abilities. You do not have to reinvent the wheel. Go borrow other people's wheels. Incorporate books, crafts, lessons, music, etc. into every day. Leave these items in a basket on your kitchen counter, or dining room table. Make them accessible. Encourage your kids to pick from the basket for free time/family time. 

3. Pray for awareness. Pray for energy. Pray for intentionality. Pray for tender hearts. Pray for pure motives. Basically... PRAY.

4. We are coming up on a very gospel-rich time of year. Unfortunately, Easter resources for the Christian parent are a little hard to come by. After 2 years of hunting for something, I finally created my own. Click on the resource tab at the top of this page, or follow this link: Easter Coloring Book. I created a mini-coloring book that can be quickly printed off using just one piece of paper (double-sided!). It's free. Each page has a sentence or two explaining the gospel. Underneath each sentence is a verse to support the theology presented. Each page has a little picture that you and your little one can color together. The theology and words are simple, but not too baby-ish. It is appropriate for a wide range of ages. Use this tool to talk about Christ as you color, as you read, as you color a second or third little book, as you teach them to read to their siblings. 

Come, O children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
— Psalm 34:11

You are not parenting for yourself. You are not even parenting for your children. You are pursuing this venture, because God chose it for you as one of the key ways for you to proclaim his glory. 

Don't lose sight of why you're doing this.