Jonathan and I are first time parents.
I can say without hesitation that last year and a half of our lives has started us on the most challenging and wonderful adventure of our lives. It really is such a joy and a privilege to be Liam’s mom. He’s an amazing kid.
We take our job very seriously, and it’s sobering to think about the impact you can have on a little life. Since we dreamt of having children, but particularly in recent months (as Liam is gaining independence and understanding), we’ve been discussing what sort of parents we want to be (a parenting model, of sorts) and have come across some fantastic resources (Including our own amazing parents!).
One blog that I have encountered is When You Rise. Even though I’m not a very arts-n-crafts kind of personality, she has a lot of great activity ideas to help your children comprehend what you’re saying. What I really love about her, though, is her Gospel-Centered Parenting concept. I knew I really liked this girl’s blog, but I decided I loved it, when I saw her response to this question.
She brings up some thought-provoking questions, like What is the difference between moral parenting and Christian parenting? And that has gotten us thinking, Is having obedient, well-mannered children our end goal?
For us, the answer is a resounding NO.
Do I want my child to be respectful and obedient? Absolutely. But I think if I’m not careful, I can teach my son that the outward appearance is more important than the heart motive. I don’t want him to learn to “pull himself up by his bootstraps”, look within himself, and do better next time. I want him to rely on the God who loves us, died for us, and creates real and lasting change from the inside. It’s subtle (especially in childhood situations), but there’s a difference. God is the One who does it. Not me. Not Daddy. Not Liam.
I’ve also been privileged to be a part of a Moms’ group that meets on a weekly basis. We’re studying a curriculum called Spiritual Parenting. We’re still early in the study, but I’m so encouraged to see a lot of similar themes to what Jonathan and I have been discussing at home.
One of the author’s points is that we should be praying that our children would learn to 1) discern God’s voice among the many, 2) desire to obey that voice, and 3) do it in God’s power. The more I’ve thought about it, I really agree. God’s goals for Liam are consistent with (and better than!) my own. If my son learns to love God and wants to obey him, he will learn to obey his parents and respect others.
The amazing thing is, if I really let these things sink in, the pressure to be the perfect parent is off me! I just need to direct Liam to God (though that’s not always as simple as it sounds) so that he can experience Him for himself.
I also know that we have a lot more learning to do.
Let it be so.