I am that kind of parent.
I like rules, I like order, I like the law. Tell me what to do and I will try and do it. Not that I always do but I like to know what I should be doing.
So, that is how I parent. I love the parenting books that speak of obedience and how to foster it in children. You obey or a consquence. I love my spanking spoon. I enjoy the order and control it brings. I always say the saddest day for me was when our oldest was too old to spank. It creates immediate results. Behavior modification. I feel good about myself as a parent when my kids obey.
Only what happens when they don’t obey and I still followed the” rules of parenting?”
What do we do now that we have a teenager who has much freedom and choice in his obedience?
I began to feel a change coming on over the summer with our oldest and didn’t know what to do about it. We fought, we cried, we punished, we did all that the “rules of parenting” told us to do. Until, finally exhausted I just gave up. The more we pushed the farther he went. I finally told God, I couldn’t make him behave anymore. (FYI, he didn’t do anything huge or big trouble, we could just see his heart was growing hard and callous – typical teenage stuff)
It is like God said, “Finally, I have been waiting for you to come to that realization. Let me handle it.” And so for months, I prayed for a heart change. I asked all my prayer people to pray for a heart change. We prayed for our own hearts to change. Guess what, God did it. He changed our hearts and our sons heart. I remember how Beth Moore says that we are often fighting the wrong fight. We are fighting “with” instead of “for.” That is what had happened to us – we were fighting “with” our son instead of fighting “for” him.
Obedience can only get us so far. We as parents can’t change a heart. If we aren’t careful, we are in danger of raising obedient kids but not godly kids. Reading through the Old Testament I am becoming more aware of how often God says to protect your heart. He speaks of it often. He has even said that he doesn’t want our sacrifices (obeience to his laws) when our hearts are far from him. I am beginning to think Jesus reinstated that when he took it farther when he repeated the 10 commandments. For example, H said the law says, don’t commit adultry but I say even if you lust after a woman you are commiting adultry in your heart. Our obedience will never be enough. We can’t obey enough – that is why Jesus came. BECAUSE WE CAN’T DO IT. But HE can. We can’t make others obey but He can. What He does is shows us His kindness, a kindness that leads to repentence. A grace that leads us to His feet and says, “I can’t do this without you!”
What is it today you are trying to make others do?
I Peter 3:1 was in my bible reading yesterday “Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives” and I know it is speaking to wives of unbelieving husbands but there is a truth there for all of us. Many people are turned off from Christiantity because of our behavior, and often our words. I am learning like Job 13:5 states ” Oh, that you would be quiet, and it would your wisdom.” I think it is time for some of us to just be quiet and pray for God to do a work.
*** For futher reading, I highly recommend “Parenting Beyond Your Capacity” by Reggie Joiner and Carey Nieuwhof, “Shepherding a Child’s Heart” By Tedd Tripp, “Age of Opportunity” by Paul David Tripp