I don’t typically have people coming to me for parenting advice. Maybe they think I am not good at it. (And they would be right.) Maybe they don’t think I have time to care. (Not right.) Maybe they see my work-in-progress philosophy and cringe. (It’s messy, not perfect.)
I understand whatever the reason is. I know that I am not the model parent. Usually, I embrace it. Sometimes, I don’t. Sometimes I wish that I was that perfect parent raising the perfect children. Doing everything in a way that feeds their spirit and yet limits my stress level. Breeding perfect obedience in their little minds.
There is a lot of messy in our home and life. There is fighting and talking back. Holes in screens and broken windows. Late night lectures about why we need to be more helpful at home. “I love you” said quickly because they are up way too late. Lots of no. Maybe too much and maybe not enough.
Sometimes, raising strong-willed kids feels like plowing through a foot-thick solid brick wall with steel beams reinforcing it. It can be a constant struggle. Despite this feeling- and it is just that, a feeling- I soldier through because of one driving idea.
I want my kids to be fully persuaded in their own minds of everything. Behavior training like a puppy dog is easy on the parent, but I really think it does no service for the child – especially later in life.
Child abuse, brainwashing and tyranny in other forms are often done by people who prey on the complicit. The kids (and adults) who question nothing, who won’t fight back. The sheeple.
I want my kids to have a fighting chance against those horrible things.
“But what about their faith?”
I cannot force them to trust Christ. They are taught the truths of God’s Word. They are free to ask questions of things that don’t make sense and they have to decide for themselves whether what I am saying is something they believe. I pray they do, and most of them have decided to follow Jesus.
Not to mention the fact that I want my kids to sin enough to realize they are sinners. I know, it sounds ridiculous, but there are people out there who really truly believe they have never sinned. There are believers out there who secretly think, “I’ve never really done anything wrong, I just know the Bible says that I have.” They are not fully persuaded of their need for a Savior.
If I want my kids to turn the world upside down for Christ, I can’t control their minds. God has to do that. And God will only control those who surrender willingly to Himself. God wants us each to be “fully persuaded in our own minds.”
But because I have decided on this route, my journey in parenting will be more difficult. This I know. It’s easy to train a young mind to follow blindly. It’s more difficult to teach discernment as to when to follow and when to lead. So there are long discussions and lectures and disagreements and sometimes I want to pull out my hair. When a concept clicks with them, I know it is something they have become convinced of. I know it will stick.
I am in no way saying “Don’t train your kids to be obedient.” NO! Obedience is key to the Christian life! But obedience is my will submitting to another will. I want my kids’ wills to bend to God first, and THEN to the people He says to bend to.
So when my 9 year old says, “Why should I do this?” I can say, “Well, Who are you supposed to obey?” (God) And I follow up with “Who does God say you should obey?” (My parents) It takes “because I said so” to the next level.
Are you struggling today, mom? Thinking you have failed in the early years of child raising and now you are reaping the consequences? It is not too late. I dare say, our lack of parenting ability is of use to the Savior in gaining followers who are strong in their faith. Remember, God has more use for weak things surrendered to Himself than strong things that have no need for Him. Keep on keeping on…