Lie #1: Right parenting produces God-fearing children.
“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Ripped out of context, Proverbs 22:6 wields a weighty punch that sucks the life out of many desperate parents. If my child is not walking with the Lord, I failed to train him/her in the ways of the Lord. It is all my fault. Or, equally incorrect, I can manipulate my child into a right relationship with God by ensuring I parent ‘right’.
Proverbs 22:6 is a principle, not a promise. It can be a great encouragement because it is generally true, like many principles in life. But it is not a promise. No one can do anything to guarantee another person will know the Lord as Saviour because the softening of a heart to the gospel, the turning from darkness to light, is a complete work of the Lord.
Lie #2: It is my fault if my children don’t ‘turn out’ right.
We live in a culture that tends to blame mom and dad for EVERYTHING. Granted, there are many times a parent does negatively impact their child. Parental hypocrisy can hinder a child’s acceptance of the gospel. A parent who exasperates a child or belittles a child may find their off-spring is not eager to embrace God because they don’t understand grace, having never experienced it. Parents will give an account for their actions—including how they parented.
Ephesians 6:4, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
But much like lie #1, this lie also fails to account for the sovereignty of God. The sovereignty of God will ALWAYS reign supreme over my ability to parent. There is nothing that I can do that will derail God’s plans for my children. Just as my children are not guaranteed a right relationship with God because of me, they may also enter into a right relationship with God in spite of me. God is sovereign over all.
Lie #3: The goal of parenting is changed behaviour.
Wrong. The goal of parenting is changed hearts.
Proverbs 4:23, “Keep your heart with all vigilance for from it flow the springs of life.”
Romans 10:10, “with the heart one believes and is justified and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”
Wait – didn’t I just write that a parent cannot change their child’s heart? Correct! You cannot change the condition of your child’s heart. That is a supernatural event powered by the Spirit of God. You can, however, create an environment that glorifies the Lord and prioritizes obedience to the Spirit’s prodding.
You can be receptive to the correction of the Word of God in your life and hold it in high esteem. You can model a lifestyle of asking for and offering forgiveness. You can understand that it is unlikely that you will stimulate godly changes in your children if Truth hasn’t transformed you. Become the parent God has called you to be so you are a ready vessel for Him to work through, should He choose to. Stop obsessing about behaviour modification and instead focus on the heart issues that need addressing in your home, including your heart issues.