Parenting isn’t for cowards. Tim Keller aptly noted this in King’s Cross:
When you have children they’re in a state of dependency. They have so many needs; they can’t stand on their own. And they will not just grow out of their dependency automatically. The only way that your children will grow beyond their dependency into self-sufficient adults is for you to essentially abandon your own independence for twenty years or so. When they are young, for example, you’ve got to read to them and read to them – otherwise they won’t develop intellectually. Lots of their books will be boring to you. And you have to listen to your children, and keep listening as they say all kinds of things that make for less than scintillating conversation.”
And then there’s dressing, bathing, feeding, and teaching them to do these things for themselves. Furthermore, children need about five affirmations for every criticism they hear from you. Unless you sacrifice much of your freedom and a good bit of your time your children will not grow up healthy and equipped to function. Unfortunately, there are plenty of parents who just won’t do it. They won’t disrupt their lives that much; they won’t pour themselves into their children. They won’t make the sacrifice. And their kids grow up physically, but they’re still children emotionally, – needy, vulnerable, and dependent. Think about it this way: You can make the sacrifice, or they’re going to make the sacrifice. It’s them or you. Either you suffer temporarily and in a redemptive way, or they’re going to suffer tragically, in a wasteful and destructive way. It’s at least partly up to you. All real, life-changing love is substitutionary sacrifice.”
Sunday’s sermon was called Diligent Discipline. (http://graceforall.org/grace-sermons/). Here are a few highlights to help you navigate the often murky waters of parenting.
While the debate continues regarding physical discipline (because of abuses), let me give you a few pointers:
- Never use your own hand (a wooden spoon: Mr. NoNo)
- Never through the face
- Never in anger
- Seldom use physical discipline
Regarding verbal discipline (both physical and verbal discipline are referenced in Proverbs), consider these guidelines:
- Do not say, “You’re a liar.” Say, “you lied.”
- Do not do it in anger
- Get the facts right.
Finally, remember that you are parenting on this side of heaven. Life is wrought with difficulties. Parenting is hard work. Sacrifice is never easy, otherwise it wouldn’t be called sacrifice. Gospel-centered parenting remembers these three realities:
- You are parenting in a fallen world.
- You are a sinner parenting a sinner.
- God is willing, powerful and able. (adapted from Paul Tripp)