How Can A Parent Find Peace Of Mind

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How Can A Parent Find Peace Of Mind

  1. 1. CONTENTS HOW CAN A A Wonderful But Difficult Challenge . . . . . . . . 2 PARENT FIND Marks Of A PEACE OF Lost Perspective . . . . . . . . . 3 Does The Bible MIND? Promise Good Results? . . . . 4 How Can A Parent F Find Peace Of Mind? . . . . . . 6 ew experiences are more Accepting A Limited wonderful and difficult Guarantee . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 than raising children. Learning How To Play Solomon recognized both The Game . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 sides when he said, “A wise Going Back To School . . . 10 Learning From son makes a glad father, but The Family Pet . . . . . . . . 12 a foolish son is the grief of his Living By A Contract . . . . 14 mother” (Prov. 10:1). Bringing Our Children For this challenge, the To Tears . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Bible offers wisdom. Nowhere is Working Like A Farmer . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 there more realism than in the Accepting The Role experiences of Abraham, Sarah, Of A Priest . . . . . . . . . . . 20 David, the father and mother Growing Like Grapes of the prodigal son, and others. On A Vine . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 Nowhere is there more Looking For Teachable Moments . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 understanding and comfort Dying A Thousand than in the Father of heaven Deaths . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 who patiently loves and waits Preparing For in the lives of His own growing An Empty Nest . . . . . . . 28 children. Being Late Rather Than Never . . . . . . . . . . 30 Martin R. De Haan II Whose Child Are You?. . . . 32 Managing Editor: David Sper Cover Photo: Mark Gervase/Getty Images Scripture quotations are from the New King James Version, ©1979, 1980, 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc., Publishers Copyright © 1991, 2001 RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, Michigan Printed in USA © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  2. 2. A WONDERFUL • SUCCESS AS A PARENT IS BUT DIFFICULT LIVING LONG ENOUGH TO BE A PROBLEM TO YOUR CHALLENGE CHILDREN. Behind the humor there L ooking back, few is heartbreak, sleepless grandparents will say nights, and broken dreams. that being a parent The tough part of this was easy. Many, however, subject for any parent is will say that parenting has that our children are so been and continues to be close to our hearts. Many of one of the most rewarding us will quickly acknowledge experiences of their life. that nothing is as important Others have said that as our children. More than knowing what they know a few moms and dads will now, they wouldn’t have say that nothing else children again. Some matters if their children are well-known surveys have not happy. Nothing else shown that parental matters if a son or daughter disillusionment is fairly is sick, or hurt, or afraid. widespread. Newspaper Much of this parental columns and radio and concern is healthy. It goes television talk programs with the territory of loving continue to show that enough to care about your there’s probably more than children. At some point, a smile behind the following however, the care can also bumper stickers: become unhealthy. At some • HAPPINESS IS SPENDING point the worry over a YOUR CHILDREN’S difficult child can become INHERITANCE BEFORE consuming—and a warning THEY DO. of a lost perspective. 2 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  3. 3. MARKS OF understandable, it’s not A LOST healthy when a troubled parent lives with the PERSPECTIVE following convictions: It Wasn’t Supposed To A lthough all mothers Be This Way. All too often, and fathers experience parents idealize what it moments of parental means to be a good mom or frustration and anger, many dad. Many of us have have said they’d be willing unrealistic expectations of to do anything to assure the parenting process. We their children’s happiness. assume that if we are good It’s not uncommon for parents we will have good parents to wish they could children—now. Such hopes give their own lives for the and assurances are not what wise and loving So much of our parenting is all about. parental anxiety is Nothing Else Is Important. It is possible not rooted in unrealistic only to idealize the process expectations. of parenting, but also to idolize our children. As sake of their child. These important as our sons and are often well-meant daughters are, they are not expressions of love, and go all-important. We cannot with the territory of being a allow them to become the mom or dad. consuming focus of our At some point, though, lives. We cannot afford to perspective can be lost. let our children’s immature Although the concern choices come between and heartbreak is our relationship with our 3 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  4. 4. spouse, or our own Father would be a mistake to think in heaven. that when we change our Our Children’s ways our children will Problems Reflect Our change as well. Mistakes. While we all All Hope Is Lost. The bequeath to our children experience of Job helps us our own human nature, it is in another way. In time, he unwise to assume that our learned that his moments of children’s problems are darkness and despair did always in proportion to our not write the last chapter of own mistakes. his life. In time, the God In the Old Testament who had been so silent—for story of Job, a troubled His own reasons—did man’s three friends wrongly speak. And He spoke with assumed that what had great affection. happened to Job and his children was the result of There is no rule Job’s own sin. His friends that our children’s understood the moral principle that “what we problems are in plant, we harvest.” But they proportion to our were wrong in assuming own mistakes. that the problems that came on Job’s family were in Many parents have proportion to Job’s sin. discovered that the difficult If, in our concern for our times are not forever. In children, we become aware time, they have learned the of our own wrongs, we can value of waiting on God do nothing better than to while relying on His admit our failures and strength to love and to commit to change. But it care with wisdom. 4 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  5. 5. DOES THE BIBLE of influence a parent has PROMISE GOOD on an impressionable child. There is some truth in each RESULTS? view. At the very least, this proverb reflects that if O ne of the most you give a child a good quoted parenting beginning by training him principles of the in a manner appropriate to Bible is found in Proverbs his own distinct needs, then 22:6. There Solomon, the the positive influence of this wise King of Israel said, early training will remain “Train up a child in the way with him for the rest of his he should go, and when he life. He will never be able is old he will not depart to get away from what the from it.” In the Hebrew parent has impressed on language this literally says him. That doesn’t mean that if you train up (initiate, the adult child will always imbue, consecrate, or comply with his parents’ dedicate) a child in his influence, but he will carry own way (with regard for the memory of their training his own temperament with him until the day he and individual needs at dies. each stage of growth or Overall, the Bible shows development), when he is that a mature approach to old (from a word that meant parenting will follow the “bearded” or “mature”) he example of our heavenly will not depart from it. Father. He loved as no other Some take this as a parent has ever loved, while promise. Others believe it is also giving His children a general rule of wisdom enough room to make their that expresses the amount own choices and mistakes. 5 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  6. 6. HOW CAN A ACCEPTING PARENT FIND A LIMITED GUARANTEE PEACE OF MIND? A s parents who sometimes find ourselves wondering about the future, we may find ourselves wishing that God had assured us of more predictable results. It is actually more loving, however, to parent our Good parenting doesn’t children without such a guarantee good children. confidence. By looking at It only assures that our the way our heavenly children will have the Father has loved us, we’ll tremendous advantage of see that parenting is worth having had a good parent. the effort—not because our Think about the God of the children always make the Bible. He was a perfect right choices but because parent. But look at His we’ve had the opportunity children. Adam and Eve and privilege and peace were raised in the best of of loving them the way environments. Yet they our heavenly Father has threw it all away, went the loved us. way of the snake, and gave birth to a murderer. Then came Israel, a dearly loved nation who 6 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  7. 7. repeatedly and chronically homes and turn out great? became the incorrigible, Are we as quick to think rebellious child. that there must have been Then came the church, some redeeming and who time after time has determining parental virtue given her Father a bad that we didn’t see? Or are name all over the earth. we inclined to think that Ezekiel the prophet the child rose above his assumed that a good parent roots and decided that he can have a child who turns was going to be different? out bad. He also reminded It is painful enough to us that a bad parent can bear the concern that loving have a child who turns parents feel for the well- out good. He argued being of their children. It is long and hard against a enough to know that we deterministic relationship haven’t given our children between parent and child as much love and patience (Ezek. 18:1-28). and wisdom as we wish This “tension of the we had. It is all the more exception” runs against pathetic, therefore, when the grain of what we often we are robbed of our peace expect in parent-child by wrong thinking. It is relationships. When we see regrettable when parents a child from a good family experience false guilt turn out bad, we are because they believe that inclined to think that there if they do the right things must have been a dark side their children will always of parental neglect turn out well. The truth somewhere. That might be. is that if we do well, our But what about the children children will be blessed who come from troubled with a good foundation. 7 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  8. 8. LEARNING HOW try to divert attention from TO PLAY THE GAME their own weaknesses by blaming others for their problems. With the latter approach, parenting crumbles into excuses like, “These kids are driving me crazy. They make me so mad. Sometimes I think I’m losing my mind. I know I shouldn’t yell and scream, but I can’t help it. They bring out the worst in me. Tennis can be played two Besides, I think a lot of my ways. It can be played with problem is that I came from the kind of sportsmanship a dysfunctional home. I that is gracious in winning can’t stop yelling and and gracious in losing. Or hitting and arguing with tennis can be played merely those brats. I just don’t for the win and money. The have it in me.” latter is the legacy of some Our first parents started of the young pros who have the ball of blame rolling. marred the dignity of the Adam blamed Eve. Eve game with their center-court blamed the snake. The tantrums, profanity, officials devil-snake undoubtedly bashing, and bitter excuses. blamed God. But God held Parents have similar Adam responsible for his options. They can choices. He made Eve concentrate on developing accountable for what she their own self-control, skill, decided to do. The snake and reactions. Or they can didn’t get off the hook either. 8 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  9. 9. Today we are inclined The Scripture also to say that our parenting shows, however, that being problems are the result of under the influence of our our own parents’ mistakes. own parents does not There may be a lot of truth suspend responsibility for to that. But a long time ago, how we choose to respond the Lord taught His people to that influence. It is up to not to blame others for us to choose whether we their own choices. He will unconsciously follow objected to a proverb the example of our parents, used to diminish a sense consciously aspire to it, or of personal responsibility deliberately choose another for one’s own actions: path. The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the It’s not whether children’s teeth are set we eventually win on edge (Ezek. 18:2). Again, that’s not to or lose our say that God denies the children, but how problems we inherit from we play the game our parents. The Scriptures certainly allow for the that counts. existence of learned or An immature adolescent biologically inherited son may push us to the predispositions. God said: limits. An alcoholic father or I . . . am a jealous God, neurotic mother may hover visiting the iniquity of the in our memories. But none fathers on the children of them gives us an excuse to the third and fourth to be adolescent, angry, generations of those who argumentative, or abusive hate Me (Ex. 20:5). in our own behavior. 9 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  10. 10. GOING BACK slate” view of childhood. TO SCHOOL As we pick up the chalk of parental wisdom, we find that the blackboard has become greasy and unaccepting of our enthusiastic desire to write and teach something wonderful. This resistance to our teaching will last for as long as we have our children. We will find, to our disappointment, that Just about the time with few exceptions they we think we have our learn best when we are education behind us, along looking the other way. comes a strong-willed, 25- pounds-and-growing toddler “The value of who quickly pushes us to our wits’ end. Suddenly marriage is not we find ourselves “back in that adults produce school” again. We begin to children but realize that parenting isn’t just a matter of slowly that children dumping our accumulated produce adults.” knowledge into fresh, Peter De Vries receptive, moldable, hungry minds. Once again we begin This isn’t the way we looking for more answers. wanted it. We thought a We develop a new child should be a fresh perspective of “the blank and empty document onto 10 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  11. 11. which we could transfer all worst isn’t all bad. Our of the knowledge we wish frayed nerves, anxiety, and we had taken to heart when anger can do the same thing we were their age. for us as a headache or a Yet learning is occurring fever. The temptation to whether we realize it or shout and scream, or throw not. We are finally learning around our parental to understand our own authority (“Because I said parents. We are finding out so, that’s why!) are symptoms what it’s like to desperately that must not be ignored. love a little one who seems determined to mimic “We never know our faults while resisting the love of a our values, expectations, and dreams. parent until we We are learning become parents something about the heart ourselves.” of God, which overflows H.W. Beecher with love for the little ones bearing His name and These reactions tell us likeness. We are learning that we still have much to something about His joy. We learn about what God can are learning about the pain do in us. We need to grow He feels when He sees His in His insight, His self- children turn away from His control, His ability to move loving correction (Isa. 1:2). us with dignity through the We are learning a lot challenges of leading a little about ourselves. We find “center of the universe” to that these little ones are maturity. In the knowledge bringing out the best in us, that this is good for us, and the worst. But even the there is peace. 11 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  12. 12. LEARNING FROM a hug, or warm approval. THE FAMILY PET Training a child is similar. Laying down the law, threatening with punishment, and pulling rank by saying, “Because I said so, and I’m your father. That’s why!” only works for a while. After that, all the threats in the world are not apt to make your child mind. They may incite him to rebel in your face, and Before resenting the certainly behind your back. comparison, think about it. What does it take to teach There is no peace a dog to sit up and beg? How many times would you in merely laying have to swat a dog with a down the law. rolled-up newspaper, yell, argue, or tear him down Children cannot be with insults? Chances are forced to be good—not that while you might be indefinitely. In time they able to keep your dog off will begin doing what they the couch with a few swats want to do whether you like of newsprint, the tactic it or not. The key is to help would fail to get him to sit them want to do the right up, roll over, or bring your thing so as to adhere to slippers to you. Even a God’s standards and also dog won’t learn new tricks to meet their own needs. unless you give him a treat, Everyone wants to be free, 12 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  13. 13. to be important, to just appeal to His authority, experience pleasure, and He doesn’t. He gives us to be appreciated. Begin by insight and incentive. helping them to feel really As a parent, you will cared for. Encourage them. avoid much frustration by Spend time with them. realizing the importance of Do what they enjoy doing. giving your children good Hold them. Hug them. Do reasons and incentives for things for them that will right choices. They need to show them that they are in see how these reasons and your heart, and that they incentives fit their need are in your heart for their for pleasure, importance, good. freedom, and appreciation. Don’t just give them To withhold them is to love. Give them boundaries “provoke your children to designed to protect their wrath” (Eph. 6:4) and to freedom. Show them what lose your own peace of happens to people who mind. refuse to live under the wise and loving rule of Law minus love God. Find creative ways of showing them that the equals rebellion. counsel of the Word of Love minus law God has been given to us equals insecurity. to meet our deepest needs and wants. Love plus law Help them to discover equals insight the wisdom of the Proverbs, and incentive. which show over and over again in many different ways that while God could 13 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  14. 14. LIVING BY A are exceptions, especially CONTRACT in the early years. One of the most important lessons to be learned as a parent is mirrored in the way God deals with His children. He is a contract-making God. He tells us what will happen if we do what He tells us to do. Then He tells us, with sufficient specificity, what will Wise parents try not to happen if we refuse. He make their children behave. offers to help us make good They realize that they choices if we ask Him for cannot force their children wisdom and readily offers to be good any more than a to help us do anything He horse can be forced to drink wants done that we cannot water. You can lead the do on our own. child to be good, but you Central to the whole can’t make him. That’s the relationship with His power of the human spirit. children is the matter of Children who are sitting choice. If His children go down on the outside can bad, it is their choice to do still be standing up on the so. When they suffer the inside. consequences, it is because This is not to say that they knowingly chose to go you don’t have to make against His will. children do things they Put this in a parenting don’t want to do. There relationship. This is the 14 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  15. 15. opposite of trying to bed an hour early, or if they make all of our children’s are not allowed to go with decisions for them, and the family to a ballgame— then trying to jump in and it’s because of their choice, protect them when they not ours. have made bad choices. Teaching our children It is also the opposite of to choose their own path, just trying to make our and then letting them children do what we experience the pleasurable want them to do. or painful results of their own choices, is one of the This means most important things we we can stop can do—not only for them but also for our own peace yelling, threatening, of mind. and repeating To the extent that we do ourselves. this, we can stop yelling, threatening, and repeating The best we can do is to ourselves. It means we show them clearly what we can stop complaining and expect, and within what nagging to pick up the pile period of time. Tell them of clothes in their room. It what will happen if they means we can lower our obey. Tell them what will voice and be civilized about happen if they don’t. our expectations. It is to say, Then let them choose the “From now on, children, you consequences. If they end choose how it will be with up being grounded, if they you. As God fathers us, so lose television privileges, if we will parent you. We’re they are not allowed to use here for you, but on these the car, if they have to go to terms. It’s your move.” 15 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  16. 16. BRINGING OUR will not be afraid to bring CHILDREN TO his child to tears when TEARS necessary. The timeless wisdom of Scripture is clear: • He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly (Prov. 13:24). • Chasten your son while there is hope, and do not set your heart on his destruction (Prov. 19:18). • Foolishness is bound up We live in a day of rampant in the heart of a child, child abuse. So we have but the rod of correction been rightly sensitized to will drive it far from him the dangers of hitting a (Prov. 22:15). child in anger or using any • The rod and reproof give instrument, including the wisdom, but a child left to hand, which might cause himself brings shame to serious physical injury. It’s his mother (Prov. 29:15). just as important to realize • Correct your son, and he that as a child grows older, will give you rest; yes, he he can be corrected by the will give delight to your use of previously stated soul (Prov. 29:17). consequences of his own • Now no chastening choosing (see pp.14-15). seems to be joyful for the That is one side of the present, but grievous; coin. The other side is that nevertheless, afterward it a wise and loving parent yields the peaceable fruit 16 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  17. 17. of righteousness to those bring a child to tears out of who have been trained by their own selfishness. it (Heb. 12:11). This means that These can be hard words parents should not give for a mom or dad to hear. their children reason to say, In the short run, it is much “You are not being fair with easier to indulge our me. You aren’t listening to children than to put up me. You are demanding with the fury of their tears more than I can give. You and complaints. In the are never satisfied. You short run, it is painful. But overreact to what I have in the long run, lovingly done wrong. You refuse to appropriate and timely admit when you are wrong. correction is necessary I can’t reason with you. You both for our child’s well- keep changing your mind. being and for our own peace of mind. Often, our “Fathers, do not children are much like the servant described in the provoke your book of Proverbs: children to wrath.” A servant will not Ephesians 6:4 be corrected by mere words; for though he You just use your authority understands, he will as a parent. You are mean not respond (29:19). and unpredictable. I never Let’s pray that when we know when you are going to bring our children to tears it blow up in anger. I’m afraid will be because of our love of you. You are supposed to rather than our anger. protect me, but I need There is no peace of mind protection from you. I hate promised to parents who you for making me cry.” 17 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  18. 18. WORKING LIKE planting. It’s weeding and A FARMER cultivating and irrigating, and then waiting on the heavens until harvest time. Depending on the year, you might have a bumper crop. Other harvests could be wiped out by bugs, or disease, or too much rain, or not enough rain, or too much heat, or too much cold. That’s not to say that Parenting is more like farming is just a game of farming than cooking. Good chance. Farming can be very meals can be prepared in a scientific. Put a loafer or a couple of hours. And by playboy on the farm and following a recipe, you you’re almost sure of being can be fairly certain of the hungry in the fall. A good outcome. But formulas don’t farmer is a hard worker who work very well with children. knows what to do with the To get a model for child- specific crops or animals rearing, you need to track he’s raising. He doesn’t raise the bread and beef all the chickens like turkeys, nor way back to the farm where corn like alfalfa. Above all, they came from. Now you’re you don’t see him trying closer to parenting. Parenting quick-recipe formulas with is far more “barnyard and a “sure thing, can’t miss” back 40” than sugar and attitude. A good farmer is a spice. Parenting is plowing humble man. He knows his and digging and raking and cash crop, but he doesn’t 18 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  19. 19. presume upon the outcome. might have ten thousand All he knows is what his instructors in Christ, yet responsibility is at each step you do not have many of the way. If he gets a fathers; for in Christ bumper crop, it’s because Jesus I have begotten he did the right things that you through the gospel. were under his control, and Therefore I urge you, also because the things that imitate me (3:5-6,8; weren’t under his control fell 4:12,14-16). in line. Paul was thinking of The apostle Paul alluded spiritual parenting, which is to this farming model in his different from raising your first New Testament letter to own children. But there are the Corinthians: strong parallels. In both Who then is Paul, and cases you must do the right who is Apollos, but thing, work hard, wait on ministers through whom God for the harvest, and you believed, as the realize that you will be Lord gave to each one? rewarded— not for the I planted, Apollos results but for the loving watered, but God gave nurturing you have given. the increase. . . . Now he Peace of mind is found who plants and he who not in trying to force quick waters are one, and each growth but in realizing that one will receive his own parenting is a long process reward according to his of providing what our little own labor. . . . And we ones need, while waiting labor, working with our on them and God for the own hands. . . . as my results. There is no peace beloved children I warn or productivity in trying to you. For though you speed up the harvest. 19 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  20. 20. ACCEPTING THE In some ways, the ROLE OF A PRIEST thought that our children are not our own isn’t very comforting. We know what it feels like to be concerned about returning a borrowed car or lawnmower that is worse for the wear. On the other hand, realizing that our children are the Lord’s is a very liberating thought. It means that the child’s rightful owner will make The Old Testament priest sure that I have all the Eli raised a child who resources I need to care for was not his own (1 Sam. the child in God’s behalf. 1:24–2:21). For several Parents are also like Eli years, Eli acted as a parent in that they are like priests. to a young boy named In Hebrews 5:1-4 we are Samuel. But Samuel was shown that a priest only a trust placed in intercedes in behalf of his Eli’s care. In a sense, we people, and that he does so have a similar relationship in the awareness of his own to our children. They are weakness. Because he like everything else we knows his own problems, have in our possession. he can be sympathetic and In reality, they are not our compassionate in dealing own. Our children have with those who come to been placed in our care him for help. The author of temporarily by the Lord Hebrews wrote this about to be raised for Him. the high priest: 20 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  21. 21. He can have compassion our children to be better on those who are than we were. We might ignorant and going long for them to make good astray, since he himself choices. We might pray that is also beset by weakness. they will be wiser than their Because of this he is years. But we haven’t required as for the people, always been wise and so also for himself, to wonderful. We’ve been offer for sins (Heb. 5:2-3). where our children now are. Since this was spoken We’ve been just as foolish, about priests who served just as shortsighted, just as prior to the coming of naive. What we have to Christ, our great High offer them is not a perfect Priest, some might think it outdated. Yet, the same author also said Parents can have of Christ: peace of mind We do not have a High Priest who cannot when they have sympathize with our prayed for the weaknesses, but was in children placed all points tempted as we are, yet without sin in their care. (Heb. 4:15). The New Testament example, but sympathetic, now calls the children of compassionate hearts that God a kingdom of priests continually go out to them (1 Pet. 2:5,9). in love and to God their Think of the implications heavenly Father—and for a parent. It doesn’t rightful owner—on their make sense for us to expect behalf. 21 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  22. 22. GROWING LIKE goodness, faithfulness, GRAPES ON A VINE gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-25). The reason Paul’s words are so important for parents is that they not only reflect The secret of the fruit is in the qualities that assure the branch and root. Good good parenting, but they parenting is the fruit of also point to resources of good character that is the Spirit we don’t have to rooted and growing in God find in ourselves or in our Himself. The Bible calls this own experience. If Paul is character the fruit of the right, then our own sense Spirit. That is to say that it of inadequacy and our own comes from the Holy Spirit history in dysfunctional of God rather than from relationships can actually our own natural ability or be put to work for us. Those energy. Listen to what the can be the needs that drive apostle Paul wrote, and us to find in the Spirit of think about how it assures our heavenly Father the good parenting: parenting qualities that But the fruit of the are not natural to us. Spirit is love, joy, peace, Listen to what Paul longsuffering, kindness, wrote to Christians who 22 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  23. 23. had been trying to live in Christ and His Word (Jn. their own strength: 15:1-14), then we will be Are you so foolish? growing in our experience Having begun in the of the fruit of the Spirit: Spirit, are you now being • supernatural love vs. made perfect by the flesh? sheer effort and fatigue Have you suffered so • good sense of humor many things in vain— (joy) vs. pessimism if indeed it was in vain? • calm spirit vs. anxiety Therefore He who • patient attitude vs. quick supplies the Spirit to anger you and works miracles • kindness vs. meanness among you, does He do • good motives and it by the works of the law, intentions vs. selfishness or by the hearing of faith? • promise-keeping vs. (Gal. 3:3-5). breaking your word The spiritual resources of • gentleness vs. harshness character Paul was talking • self-control vs. addictive about are not the result of behavior trying to live by the ideals of God. They come when we believe and trust what God says He is willing and able to do in us. We can’t afford We need to remind one to forget where another continually that the secret to good parenting is good parenting like fruit that is rooted in comes from. the branches and roots of the Spirit of Christ. When we are in agreement with 23 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  24. 24. LOOKING FOR shall let your children TEACHABLE know (Josh. 4:21-22). MOMENTS The parent-teachers of Israel were not to be boring. They were to do things that would encourage their children to ask, “Dad, Mom, why do we do this? Why do we always have an empty place-setting at our table?” (See also Dt. 6:6-9,20-25.) In the Old Testament, God What was the taught His people to build primary method rock piles so that their Jesus used to teach children would one day ask why the stones were there. His disciples? When the children asked, the parents were to be The father who wrote ready to tell the story of the Proverbs for his son how the Lord of Israel had realized the power of a wonderfully met their needs word spoken at just the in that place. The secret right moment (Prov. 15:23; was in being ready for 25:11). He came from a teachable moments. tradition that used creative When your children ask ways to open the hearts of their fathers in time to children to life-changing come, saying, “What are perspectives. The Jews used these stones?” then you education by rockpiles, by 24 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  25. 25. riddles, by object lessons, or a tender Bible story by drama, by word pictures, and prayer at bedtime are and by seeing children, over usually far better received all, as being willing and (Dt. 6:6-9) and much more active participants in their effective. The challenge own learning. is that you can’t teach Such child-ready object children this way without lessons are different from a lot of involvement and the kind of family devotions creative time spent with that are forced, ritualistic, them. and academic. These seldom have the desired spiritual effect. Unless our Making the most words come at teachable of teachable moments, they are not moments takes likely to draw our children’s hearts toward their God. time and creativity. About all forced devotions do is help a parent feel less Now, I’m not saying guilty about something that that we should not have he feels he should do. mealtime devotions with Planning for and taking our children. If it is working advantage of teachable well and doing what you moments is far better. hoped it would do, then Tender discussions about continue. But if all you are life while enjoying an doing is trying to force your afternoon in a fishing boat, children to learn something, a walk along a wooded chances are they may be field, a drive through the learning to resent not only countryside, a spontaneous Bible reading and prayer, discussion during mealtime, but also you and your Lord. 25 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  26. 26. DYING bringing children to A THOUSAND maturity would be easy. DEATHS It’s hard for a mother to go through the contractions of labor. It’s hard for her to give years of her life to infants and toddlers who constantly demand attention. It’s hard for a wife and husband to give up the freedoms they enjoyed before children. It’s hard for a father to put aside his strong will and The most effective parents give his son the space he die a thousand deaths. Sometimes it is the result “Unless a grain of of being embarrassed by the actions of their children. wheat falls into the Sometimes it is the result of ground and dies, utter frustration and fatigue. it remains alone; but Sometimes it is over the deep concern of a son or if it dies, it produces daughter’s shortsighted much grain.” and self-destructive choices. Jesus (Jn. 12:24) But often these parents voluntarily die to their own needs to make his own desires just because this is decisions. It’s hard to give what it takes to bring your children more and children into the world. more freedom with less and No one said that less control so that they 26 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  27. 27. can begin to feel the whatever it takes to bring responsibilities of maturity. my children to You and to It’s hard not to jump in and maturity of faith and love. rescue them when they get Lord, do whatever it takes.” themselves in trouble. It’s hard to remain firm in “Now My soul is providing reasonable boundaries and controls troubled, and what so that they are not left shall I say? ‘Father, entirely on their own. It save Me from this would be easier, sometimes, to give in and get them off hour’? But for this your back. It’s hard to purpose I came continually help them to to this hour.” see that the real issue is not Jesus (Jn. 12:27) what you want them to do but what they are going to Ironically, we are choose and with what inclined to think that taking consequences. It’s hard an easier path will result in not to jump in and take less pain and more joy. control. It’s hard to be Good parenting, however, patient enough to give them is the result of Christlike as much time as they need character. And unless we to grow up. It’s like dying follow Christ’s lead and that to let them go out into the of the apostle Paul (2 Cor. cold, cruel world. 4:1-12), we will never see It’s hard to pray for them the difference Christ’s Spirit daily. It’s harder yet to pray can make in us. Only when in a way that reflects our we die to ourselves do our surrender to God. It’s hard children get the benefit of to say to the Lord, “Do Christ parenting through us. 27 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  28. 28. PREPARING FOR parents and their marriage, AN EMPTY NEST it should also be seen as the mark of success and hope for the child. Children are not born to be children. The highest good is not to be protected and directed by a hovering, smothering parent. From the day a baby is born, his parents should understand that their mission is to prepare this child to fly. Empty-nest syndrome has established itself as a real “The most dimension of mid-life crisis. Life after children is now important thing recognized as another that parents can threat to marriages that teach their children have survived earlier tests. Parents who have lived all is how to get along their lives for their children without them.” suddenly find themselves Frank A. Clark rattling around in an empty house. They become Maturity is better than restless, unsatisfied, and immaturity, independence irritable. Anxiety, anger, is better than dependence, and depression can come and the day of departure in slowly like a fog. is better than the day of If empty-nest syndrome arrival. marks yet another test for If after working through 28 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  29. 29. the normal pains of miraculous signs and departure, parents are wonders to assure them still apt to be overinvolved, of His presence. In time, overprotective, and He withdrew the obvious meddlesome in their presence of the miraculous adult children’s lives, then and forced His children there is a need for some to sink or swim in the housecleaning. It might be disciplines of faith. time to acknowledge and God has made man discard a pattern of selfish and woman to leave their control and smothering. It parents and cleave to a might be time to accept the new mate of their own. fact that we have been It is in this new sphere of overinvolved, not for the independent living that a child’s good but to indulge person is the freest to learn our own selfish needs. It is to love God, parents, mate, difficult to let our children children, and friends. go, especially if we have It is here that we can find become dependent on the peace of mind God them. Dependence signals provides. the child in us, and is a warning that we are not “There are only two finding our satisfaction and peace in God Himself. lasting bequests we It is interesting to note can hope to give our the way God parents His children. One of children. In both Old and New Testament times, the these is roots; the heavenly Father temporarily other, wings.” nurtured His children with Hodding Carter a heavy provision of 29 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  30. 30. BEING LATE There is no way of RATHER THAN changing the wrongs NEVER of a lifetime. The human consequences of selfish, alcoholic, adulterous, abusive, workaholic parenting cannot be wiped away like unwanted chalk on a blackboard. But you can know the joys of the Teacher who taught His followers to live one day at a time, confess their wrongs, make restitution Saying I’m sorry is better where possible, and thereby late than never saying it at know God’s peace. all. Saying I love you is better said on a deathbed To finally have than to die without ever the blessing of having said it. Finding ways to encourage your children a parent can late in life is better than be like a soothing letting them come to their drink of water own end wondering, “Did Mom or Dad ever really so satisfying that care about me?” One of the you remember that most amazing experiences drink every day is to see the good that a few words of encouragement for the rest of can do even at the end of your life. that parent’s life. 30 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  31. 31. But what if the child wisdom, his example, and dies before the parent has his prayers. a chance to show that care? After finding out how You can still dignify and much God loved him, after honor the life and memory a change of heart, and after of that child. You can put experiencing the redeeming your mistakes to work for someone else who could It’s not too late benefit by being cared for to honor by you. The apostle Paul the life illustrated the possibility or memory of putting our mistakes to of a child. work for others. He became like a father to many after strength of Christ, Paul having made many violent became known for his mistakes. In his early years, example, his advice, he was an angry and his correction, and his abusive man (Acts 8:1-3). warm, affirming words of His actions left memories encouragement. He learned that weighed heavily on to provide the gentleness of him (1 Tim. 1:15). Yet he a mother and the strong didn’t give up. He went on comfort and challenge of a to become one of the most father (1 Th. 2:7-12). His important parent figures of “adopted” children would all time. Driven by the certainly say, “Better late mistakes of his past, and than never.” by the forgiving love of God, he went on to be like a father to those who soaked up his love, his 31 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  32. 32. WHOSE CHILD will acknowledge your ARE YOU? sins and trust Christ for forgiveness and life (Eph. 1:3-12; 1 Jn. 5:1). Y ou don’t have to be In this new relationship the adult child of a to God, a parent can find divorce, or of an a love, a security, and a alcoholic, a workaholic, confidence that God alone or a physically, verbally, can give. It begins as we or sexually abusive mom or trust Christ as Savior from dad to have doubts about sin’s eternal penalty. It yourself as a parent. All of continues as we rely on us have questions about Him for wisdom and what we are going to pass enablement. along to our children. Some of us wonder whether we are going to be able to be as Not only can good for our children as our you be a child parents were for us. The of God, but He good news is that we don’t have to pass along a legacy can enable you of parental inadequacy. to live like one! The God of the Bible has offered to adopt, raise, This is the only way that and live His life through “children having children” you if you will allow Him really works in our favor. to parent you. The God When we trust God and and Father of the Lord live as His children, He Jesus Christ has offered to will develop within us the adopt and name you in His character that is the secret eternal inheritance if you of good parenting. 32 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  33. 33. Get your free Bible Resources catalog! Discovery Series booklets can be valuable guides to help you learn what the Bible says about a broad range of topics. Each 32-page booklet can be used in your personal Bible study or in a small-group setting. Your free Bible Resources catalog includes a brief description of each Discovery Series booklet. To get your copy, write to us at the address below and ask for a catalog. Or follow the link below to request your copy today. www.discoveryseries.org/catalog USA: PO Box 2222, Grand Rapids, MI 49501-2222 Canada: Box 1622, Windsor, ON N9A 6Z7

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