Parenting is the toughest task on the face of the earth. Maybe solving a quantum physics problem is a close second, but I’ll let my statement stand. We make it difficult because we care about our children and want them to grow up to have a good life. There is nothing wrong with this aim in our parenting. The definition of what a “good life” looks like is the question. Most of us would define it as having a comfortable life. Our kids would grow up and have a good job, a nice house, and a family of their own. But is there more to life than having the stuff that we often define as a good life?
Controling A Good Life
Instead of defining life as how we live it out, we need to view it as how we view life. How do we view others? How do we view ourselves? What is our role as a parent? It’s easy to view others as something less than ourself. We want to be what life is all about. We want control. So, we relate to others in a way that reflects this.
As parents we try to control our children through behavior modification. I’m at the top of the list when it comes to this. One of my kids will take something from another one and my immediate reaction is to jump in and fix the problem. I take the toy back and I quickly reprimand the child who stole it. “Why did you do that? Don’t you know it’s wrong to take things from someone else?” I try to change the behavior of the child who stole the toy by using guilt and shame. I’m more concerned about there being quiet and order in the house rather than them really learning from this situation. I’m more concerned with their behavior changing rather than their heart changing.
Shaping a Heart
This is why parenting is so difficult of a task. It’s so much easier to keep the peace in the house than it is to shape a heart. In order to do this it takes patience, listening, and grace. Rather than jumping so quickly to conclusions or trying to fix the problem in a matter of seconds it requires slowing down. We need to be present with our children and to listen to their hearts. The problem is often not the taking the toy from the other one, but a deeper issue. The child doesn’t feel included, or they don’t feel like they’re being heard. They might be trying to control each other through their own actions and the way that they are viewing each other.
But more than anything this parenting task requires grace. Our children need to know that they are loved and forgiven for their misdeeds. We need to remind them that they are accepted and that nothing can change our love or relationship with them.
A Loving Father
God does all of this for us. He accepts us, loves us, and forgives us with an unconditional love. There is nothing we can do that will change His view of us. He isn’t concerned so much about our behavior as much as He is about our heart. God is patient with us. He is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. God listens to us and hears our heart. He knows the deeper issues and the way that we view each other and ourselves. But He hears us out too as we are figuring it out and voicing it back to Him.
And the grace that God gives us is beyond all measure. We will mess up over and over again. We will view others with a selfish heart and try to control others over and over again. But God is always there. He is always there to forgive us and to reshape our heart. He helps us to see life from His perspective. Our Father accepts us for who we are, but doesn’t leave us in our sin. He works to redeem our lives and to restore our identity and view on life.
Parenting is tough, but with God as our Father it can be easier. We can learn how to parent better when we can accept our identity as His children. When we see the patience, love and grace from God our Father, we can better express that with our own children. Take rest in knowing that God is working on making you a better parent, but at the same time a more loved child.