Rambling Jet-Lagged Thoughts on Parenting

I think about parenting a lot. I think about our own mistakes and the things we did right. It is a mixed bag. Perhaps the most regrets we have as we get older are what we did as parents. Woe to the parent who thinks they nailed it. Owning our mistakes is healthy for ourselves and for our kids, even if they are grown. There are a few things that are easy to forget when it comes to parenting. The first is that our children are not ours, they belong to the Lord. We are stewards, not owners. Too many parents rule instead of raise, dictate instead of shepherd. The Bible is clear, but sometimes we are foggy. If we see our children as our own possession, we will become controlling and maybe even dictatorial. If we see them as a stewardship, then we shepherd and guide, realizing we have a goal. Stewards have a goal in managing what has been entrusted to them and they realize they will give an account. Parenting is no different. The second thing we frequently forget is that God gives us children to raise them to become adults. To be sure, we are always parents (see Jim Newheiser’s and Elyse Fitzpatrick’s excellent book, You Never Stop Being a Parent). We raise our children so that they are wise and live lives that are pleasing to the Lord. But often we want to lord it over our children, especially as they approach adulthood. Just as we should be giving more freedom, we become more controlling than ever. We want them to please the Lord as long as it is in a way that pleases us. A clear violation of Romans 14. If we have raised them right, we should yield to the Lord’s leading in their lives and not try to control them under some misguided concept of parental authority. If we have raised them right, they will seek our counsel and even the counsel of other godly people. If they are seeking to please the Lord and serve Him, then by all means let them! Do more than that, rejoice!  It is sheer grace, not the wisdom of your parenting that brought them to that point. Too many Christian parents hold so tightly to the reins that they stifle the very goal of their parenting, which is to raise adults who are seeking to walk in the ways of the Lord. Sometimes the reins are held more tightly because of fear. Fear they will grow up, fear they will make wrong decisions, fear that we will fade in importance. We parent by faith, faith in God’s Word and in God’s goodness. Unless there are clear reasons to exert more control, such as suspected drug use, drunkenness, or some other destructive behavior, we should trust God and loosen our grip. Let’s not forget, we are stewards. As our kids grow into adulthood that stewardship looks different. Let them follow the Lord for themselves, don’t lord over their consciences. Trust God, trust His Word will not return void. Trust God will cover all your parental transgressions and cause all that you did right to flourish and bear fruit.