“Good parenting in – good kids out” is the paradigm we are most comfortable with. It is ironic though because, truth be told, none of us are the good parents we long to be. We are often impatient, inconsistent, unloving, and angry. Yet, even in those moments, especially in those moments, we expect our children to be good kids.
Why do we rely on this lie so much?
It makes us feel like we are in control of our child’s salvation. We feel safe thinking that our parenting has something do with whether or not our children end up saved. We fight against the free fall of grace. We want to believe that if we just do what we need to do then everything will turn out just right. The “safety belts” this seems to afford us are really just shackles and chains that tie us to a life of fear and false control. It will make us unforgiving and demanding towards our children. On the days you fail as a parent you will wallow in self-condemnation and fear. On the days you think you did a pretty good job you will be prideful and arrogant and wonder why your kids can’t just be better.
How does this lie affect more than just my family?
When you believe this lie you will be judgmental towards those whose kids are struggling. The thought, “If they would have just…” will ring in your ears every time you hear of rebellion. You will think that you do a much better job with your kids and they will surely not turn out that bad. Your self-righteousness will crush the already hurting parent and will likely create more anger in their hearts toward their wayward child.
What is the truth that combats this lie?
There is only One Good Parent and you are not it.
Psalm 34:8 “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!”
Salvation is always and only of The Lord.
Psalm 37:39 “The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; he is their stronghold in the time of trouble.”
Jonah 2:9 “Salvation belongs to the Lord!”
As responsible parents we must strive to faithfully proclaim the message of salvation to our children as often as possibly. God may choose to use us as instruments of grace in their lives. But when you fail, and you will fail, you can fall back into the arms of your Savior who has been holding you the whole time.
You can cry out to Him for the salvation of your children. You can know that His ways and plans are better than anything you can think up. You can freely admit to your children when you have failed as a parent, and you can run to the Savior together. You can rejoice in the full forgiveness for all of your sins towards your children. You can rest in the truth that you are completely perfect in the eyes of your Heavenly Father. You can know that you were never meant to carry the burden of your child’s soul.
Only the Good Shepherd is strong enough to bear that weight.
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For more insight on parenting, check out Jessica Thompson and Elyse Fitzpatrick’s book, Give Them Grace:Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus.