Raising children in this day and age is proving difficult, and I'd be lying if I didn't admit that there are some days that I question everything I am doing as a mom. The world is changing and appears to be going down several destructive paths.
The combination of consuming (and highly addictive) technology, ever-changing school systems, online safety (or lack thereof), identity and gender confusion, among so many other hidden dangers, have become a revolving door for the deceiver to come in and capture our children's minds and sabotage their hearts. Evil no longer hides as it has weaseled its way into most of our public systems and now has made its way into our homes. Parents now wrestle with how to adapt to the ever-changing and challenging issues at hand while keeping their children safe.
What's a parent to do? I wish I had the answers, but thankfully our God does! And He will lead and guide us as we raise our children in this day in age. Below are five simple parenting goals I plan to implement this coming year. Will you join me in letting God take the reigns and allowing Him to speak into the lives of our children and this generation?
1. Let Go and Trust God
We must hold tight to the truth and promise that God has a plan and purpose for our children. He also has a plan and purpose for us as their parent. But while those words, let go and trust God, sound so easy to say, it's rather difficult to do.
It's easy to be led by fear. Just watch the news, and the next thing you know, you're ready to shelter in place. However, God created our children for this exact point in time. They each have a calling and are born to make a difference. If we parent out of fear or shelter them from the world, we hold them back from the plan and purpose God has in store for them. As their parent, we must lead them to Scriptures that remind them that God has a plan and purpose for their lives and that they can whole-heatedly trust God.
So, how do we go about letting go and trusting God?
-Pray and seek wisdom.
-Lead your children back to the Truth in His Word.
-Give your child age-appropriate choices to listen and obey the will of God.
-Let your child make mistakes. They can and will grow from those challenging times.
2. Make Disciples in a Volatile World
"And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others." 2 Timothy 2:2
It is an honor to be able to disciple our children! While it can be a daunting task wrapped in a slew of challenges, God still chooses us to help our children grow and grow closer to Him. We are called to lead and train them up in the way they should go. By striving to set a firm foundation, we set them off into the world, knowing who they are and Who they follow.
While they will stumble and fall into God's grace, as will we, thankfully, God equips our children (and us) with tools to make disciples. First and foremost, we have God's living and breathing Word to lead us all. His Word comes to life as we proclaim it over our children. While we may share Scripture and read from His Word, our children do best by seeing it in action. We must model for them what it looks like to live for Christ and love others well.
How do we make disciples in a volatile world?
-Keep it simple and remember growth is a process.
-Use everyday moments to show how good God is.
-Help them learn and grow from their mistakes.
-Lead them to find their spiritual gifts, talents, and passions to share with others.
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/Galina Zhigalova
3. Seek God's Approval Alone
"Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings or God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ." Galatians 1:10
It's easy to sit around with other parents and compare notes. We yearn to seek advice, gain wisdom, and ensure we aren't alone in this challenging parenting journey. But, if we aren't careful, it can quickly turn into heavy conviction, misguidance, or hasty judgments.
God tells us that we are to love, support, and encourage one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11). We are also told that iron sharpens iron (Proverbs 27:17) in reference to not doing this life alone and coming alongside fellow brothers and sisters for mentorship and guidance.
Parenting is a constant growing curve where we are fine-tuning our children and ourselves. However, each of our families has its own set of challenges and various needs. Comparisons or trying to win the approval of others will only rob us of our purpose in parenting and steal our joy.
How do we seek God's approval?
-Amid the challenges, God still choose YOU as their parent.
-Look at your child as a precious gift.
-Support your friends and applaud their efforts; we're all just doing our best.
-Get involved with the right community that will encourage you to be a better parent.
4. Be Intentional
"Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil." Ephesians 5:15-16
Distractions are everywhere. They are loud, and it has become rather obvious that we (as a society) have become rather good at tuning things out while getting sucked into things that are numbing and mindless. We are warned about this in the book of Ephesians. In the Scripture above, Paul reminds us that how we spend our time is invaluable to God.
As parents, we must be aware of these situations but also strive to be intentional about sharing the dangers and crippling effects that all of these distractions have on our whole body – heart, mind, and soul. From phones to social media to binge-watching shows, we must create space in our day to just be present with our families.
How can we be intentional?
-Look up and talk with your child, eye-to-eye.
-Set boundaries around technology for all members of the family.
-Allow for opportunities to engage with others without the use of any screen.
-Have fun as a family – get outside, make dinner together, and laugh together.
Photo credit: ©Pexels/Ketut Subiyanto
5. Freely Forgive
"Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." Colossians 3:13
They test your patience, try your nerves, say things that cut deep, and can be downright disrespectful at times. Parenting isn't for the faint of heart- it's "heart" work! And let's be honest, we may easily extend forgiveness when we are in the right place at the right time, like at church. (Guilty) But what about when it's hard?
Forgiveness is hard when you see permanent marker "artwork" all over the freshly painted living room walls. Forgiveness is hard when your teen talks back and refuses to give you their full attention (or phone) when asked. Forgiveness is hard when you're tired, weary, overburdened, and burnt out.
Freely forgiving your children (and yourself) doesn't mean that it's perfect or wrapped in a pretty bow, and then all of a sudden, all is fine. Freely forgiving comes with a sense of peace and letting go by giving it to God.
So, how do we forgive freely?
-We take our hurt and frustrations to God – first.
-Offer space (boundaries physically and in time) to diffuse any anger.
-Take time to talk with your child to understand their point of view.
-Make it a teachable moment.
-Start with a clean slate by truly letting it go.
Father, thank you for the precious gift of my children. Lead and guide me to be the parent You need me to be. Pave the way for me to trust You. Guide me in making them disciples to share your love with others. I want to seek Your wisdom and will for my life and be intentional with my time while also being able to forgive when my heart is heavy or hurt. Lord, cover me on this parenting journey as we go into this new year's unknowns. Grant me peace and discernment. I ask all these things in Your Holy name. Amen.
Originally published Friday, 16 December 2022.