I am re-reading a few of my favorite parenting books this fall. Sometimes the road through motherhood becomes a little foggy to me, and I take those times as an indication that I need to re-focus. To make sure that I am heading in the biblical direction. Anyhow, I thought that as I read I would share some of the snippets that encouraged me the most. Maybe the Lord will use them to give you a little shot in the arm at a moment when you particularly need one (and if you have toddlers, I can attest to needing that type of help often! : )
I am beginning with Elyse Fitzpatrick’s book “Give Them Grace.” I’m two chapters in and these are a few of the quotes that I have underlined in my book.
“Most of us are painfully aware that we’re not perfect parents. We’re also deeply grieved that we don’t have perfect kids. But the remedy to our mutual imperfections isn’t more law, even if it seems to produce tidy or polite children. Christian children (and their parents) don’t need to learn to be “nice.” They need death and resurrection and a Savior who has gone before them as a faithful high priest, who was a child himself, and who lived and died perfectly in their place. They need a Savior who extends the offer of complete forgiveness, total righteousness, and indissoluble adoption to all who will believe. This is the message we all need. We need the gospel of grace and the grace of the gospel. Children can’t use the law any more than we can, because they will respond to it the same way we do. They’ll ignore it or bend it or obey it outwardly for selfish purposes, but this thing is certain; they won’t obey it from the heart, because they can’t. That’s why Jesus had to die.”
“It’s the premise of this book that the primary reason the majority of kids from Christian homes stray from the faith is that they never really heard it or had it to begin with. They were taught that God wants them to be good, that poor Jesus is sad when they disobey, and that asking Jesus into their heart is the breadth and depth of the gospel message.”
“When we change the story of the Bible from the gospel of grace to a book of moralistic teachings…all sorts of things go wrong. Unbelieving children are encouraged to display the fruit of the Holy Spirit even though they are spiritually dead in their trespasses and sin (Eph 2:1). Unrepentant children are taught to say that they’re sorry and ask for forgiveness even though they’ve never tasted true godly sorrow.”
“Please don’t misunderstand. We don’t always respond [correctly], nor will our children always listen when we do. Sometimes they roll their eyes; other times they pretend to listen but don’t hear a word we say. Sometimes we are sure they are thinking, “Grace, gospel, blah, blah, blah.” Frequently, what might have been a wonderful grace moment becomes nothing more than discipline and prayer for grace. Sometimes we are distracted or in a hurry or discouraged or apathetic, and we don’t have the time or the inclination to give grace to our children. Sometimes we ignore them and wish we could have an afternoon alone. We are just like you.”
(Ok, so in the margin of my book I put a smiley face beside that last quote : )
So far, this is what I am taking away from what I have read.
1) I must remember that the goal of my parenting is not to produce obedient children (I Tim 1:5. 2).
2) I can provide teaching moments, but it is the truth of scripture as used by the Holy Spirit that will change my children’s heart (Heb 4:12, sharper even than a perfect mother! : )
3) I must be faithful in providing Jack and Brenn with a daily context where they hear the amazing story of God’s love and sacrifice if I ever want them to understand the concept of obedience out of love (I John 4:19).
4) I must remember that Jack and Brenn’s hearts will direct their actions. If I teach, through example, that behaviors are the end goal I will place a stumbling block in the path of their spiritual growth. The truth must permeate their heart if their actions are to be truly pleasing to God (Luke 6:45). And for little children, this truth doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does need to be there.
5) That this is not a quick and easy job. That heart change is a slower process than behavior change. Thus, I shouldn’t get frustrated by repetitive failures – rather I must keep a steady flow of love, grace and discipline in order to help them look past the action and understand the heart cause. I must sow truth and love and expect that in time I will see the good results (Gal 6:9). And during those rough days (or weeks!) there is always Prov 24:16 : )
6) I must trust that God’s word will not return empty. Especially once the boys are saved (and praise the Lord, we believe that Jack has made the choice to trust in Jesus) and have the Holy Spirit to help them (Is 55:11).
That’s all for now! I’d love to hear some of your thoughts about the quotes. I’m always amazed at how the Lord can use other people to share and spread truth : )