Climbing ‘Parent Mountain’ takes faith. Soon after our newborn babies gaze back at us with the fresh hope of new life, the inventible responsibility crashes into our reality. God knows we feel insufficiently equipped. He created us to rely on Him. The falling feeling of not being able to sink our foot securely into the next step signals us to reach for His hand.
The overwhelming juggle of our own personal growth alongside that of our kin lends our advice to be as imperfect as we are! Where is the peace in that? In Him. To maintain a perfect peace through imperfect lives and rapidly crumbling world, we must place our trust in God’s wisdom. Peace is found in submission to His unchanging authority over our lives. He has gone before us and remains with us.
1. A Clean Slate
The first pathway to peace in parenting is prayer. There’s no way to shortcut around prayer if peace is what we seek. Jesus set the tone in Mark 1:35 by praying first thing in the morning. Getting up early and portioning off that time is a challenge and a sacrifice, but God honors every bit of time we set aside for Him.
Why not pray while we’re brushing our teeth, or making our coffee? Can we roll over after we hit the snooze button and pray God’s blessing over the day? It’s not as hard as we make it out to be. How many of us awake to our smartphones, and find ourselves scrolling mindlessly after we snooze our alarms? When we redirect our roaming thoughts to Him, Peace ushers in.
“For the LORD is a great god, and a great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed dry land.” Psalm 95:3-5 ESV
There is no one like our God. We are created in His image, but we are not Him. The things we create get messed up. The people we raise, rebel. We come unglued. Mistakes are the learning curve of life, yet many kids are ashamed of them. Perfectionism is creeping into the cracks of our society, where kids are known for their test scores and grade cards rather than their unique talents and abilities. Afraid to disappoint anyone with their failures, they keep them hidden and covered up. They are on social media younger and younger, where the highlight reel reigns. It’s a difficult reality for them to navigate, and a crucial environment for parents to be aware of.
We all struggle with the fear of disappointing other people, ourselves, or God. Mistakes are a part of being human, and God is not surprised. Regardless of our imperfections, He chooses to love us right where are. John 6:44 says, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” ESV
I often scramble to fix the way my daughters feel instead of trusting God for who He says He is. The Father draws them, not me. Psalm 98:2 says, “The LORD has made his salvation known and revealed his righteousness to the nations.” (NIV) As parents, we are called to lead our children to His feet, but I often need to be reminded my daughters were His before they were mine. 2 Corinthians 2:14 says,“thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.” ESV
Christ went to the cross to reach a bar we never could. We often learn the most from our mistakes, and have the opportunity to help others who are struggling with what we have gone through. It comforts children to learn parents make mistakes, too. Christ meets us in our mess everyday. He wipes the slate clean, but the memories of our past mistakes are to serve the people He places in our lives purposefully. Including our children. Hebrews 3:13 says,“encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today.’” NIV
When no band-aid seems to fit our children’s wounds and calm their fears, Jesus heals. There is power in His name. Pray to Him, together. He is always with us, and God promises to be close to broken hearted. God freely gives His love, but it’s up to us to receive it, and teach our children to as well. When our kids are hysterical and hormonal all at once, let’s come alongside them and love them empathetically, as if we’ve been there. Perfection has no place in anyone’s expectations this side of heaven.
God rested. When we throw our faith in Him, we are able to rest. He reigns. He’s in control. Hebrews 4:10-11a says,“for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest…” ESV.
“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6).
The responsible way in which we choose to handle modern media will set the tone for our children’s online behavior. Young children mimic what they see, and habits are hard to break as they grow older. By holding ourselves to the standards that we expect of our children, especially within earshot, we are already removing some of the dangers they are exposed to daily.
94% of parents pay attention to the content of the games their children play.
75% place limits on video game playing
71% place time limits on internet usage
68% place limits on television viewing
61% place time limits on movie watching
The Pew Research Center studies agreed, giving parents credit for checking the websites their teens visited 61% of the time, and checking social media profiles 60% of the time (Time reported some great screen-time tools and guidelines here).
“Love your enemies. Pray for those who torment and persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44 Voice Paraphrase)
Why would Jesus tell us to pray for someone that has snuck past our radar and hurt our family? The “bully” is a beloved child of God, too. The pain in their life is fueling their wrath towards us.
In a society where the hate is palpable, we have to slow down and sit with our Savior before we launch into our defensive attack. Through our actions and reactions towards bullying, we can lead the way for others who find themselves in similar situations. Even though it feels personal, it’s not.
“The devil has come to kill, and destroy” (John 10:10). He wants us to fight each other like plastic foosball players, but Jesus has already crushed His agenda. If we refuse to play into it, we will experience what He came to give us: life to the full. (John 10:10 b).
I have a child who hears everything I say no matter how many floors of the house and blaring TV’s or devices separate us. She pops up into conversations at random and repeats things I thought were out of her earshot. I really wish I could screen her questions before she asks them, and cringe in fear of what she might say whenever her little hand pops straight up into the air to ask a question. She holds me accountable! Whatever I say is coming back at me, full speed …in front of everyone …at the most awkward time possible. There are no breaks in parenting! No breaks.
The digital age has it’s challenges for parents and kids alike. The questions are endless, the monitoring never-ending, and the app requests are constant. One generation is growing up immersed in information and accessibility like never before. The older generations attempting to parent their children through all of this haven’t lived through it from the ground up like they have. It’s challenging to stand in credibility when we’re learning so much on the fly, ourselves.
In some ways, the generational gaps are very similar to those we experienced with our parents. But in many ways, the world seems to be a brand new ball game. A scary one. Terrifying, even. It’s not in our heads. We’re not being paranoid. It’s not a product of watching too much of the news. The world is catapulting towards it’s inevitable end at a very fast rate. We live in the end times, the time between Jesus going to heaven to be with the Father, and the time He will return again to set ALL OF IT straight. Until then, here we are. More broken than ever. More catastrophe than ever. More hurt, pain, suffering, and tragedy than ever. And since we’re more connected and technologically advanced than ever, we know more than ever about ALL OF IT.
“Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God.” Romans 3:19 NIV
Every mouth silenced. The VOICE paraphrase says, “muzzle every mouth, to silence idle talk, and to bring the whole world under the standard of God’s justice.”
Holding ourselves accountable to God’s truth sends a powerful message to our children. Our actions make a bigger impact than what comes out of our mouths. Openly sharing our faith with our children makes a difference, but allowing them to watch us live it puts it in bold italics. Children want to be accepted for who they are, right now. They need to be loved for who they are, while they grow. In the midst of awkward transitions happening to the backdrop of an ever-changing world, our children need love to live.
We need Love to live. All of us.
There are things we are not going to be able to explain to ourselves, or to our children. There are simply no answers for all of the horrific things that happen in this world. No ability to understand them even if God gave them to us. How do we throw our trust in God, regardless? Everything we need to know can be unlocked by opening up the Bible and praying for understanding. Seeking God, and holding onto His promise that we will find Him.
Christianity is not a mythical faith that requires us to throw all of our gumption into the unknown. Jesus Christ can be proven. If you are searching for answers, keep searching, keep asking, and you will find them. God is not hiding. In fact, He wants to be found. For ourselves, as parents, that’s an important fact to embrace. Our kids are watching us. They are watching to see how are faith holds us together. How we make sense out of the things that don’t seem to make sense.
Our lives speak for themselves.
In this world, we are promised to have trouble. We are told, as Christians, it will be even harder. Why would anyone sign up for that? For the promise of eternity with Christ in heaven. Fact finding firms the foundation of our faith, but walking with Christ brings us to our knees. The personal, daily care our Heavenly Father leads us with. Going before us, behind us, and remaining with us. Despite the world, despite ourselves, we see life through a different filter than those who choose to walk without Him. A filter of grace, hope, peace, and love …that surpasses all understanding.
We cannot authentically love the people in our lives well unless we are putting Love first in our lives. It effects everything. Our kids notice, our friends see, our family knows. Strength comes from our Savior, Jesus Christ. The world is a mess, yep. It’s going to keep getting messier, yep. But hope is still hope. Love is still Love. Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father who sees all and knows all. In ways we only get glimpses of, all of mess will be cleaned up, in due time. In His perfect time. In the meantime, we learn on the fly. We grow with our kids. We embrace every good thing and trust that God is somehow making good out of all the bad.
When the world butts up against us, all abrasive and entitled, we can choose to forgive forward, love despite, and compassionately extend kindness. Our kids are watching. They are listening. They hear everything. Who are we echoing?