Some GREAT Parenting Advice

I just came across this thought-provoking and instructive article (via Challies) written by a father of five: 39 Lessons, 20 Tips, and 10 "Don'ts" for Parenting

Here are some of the things he says that I would echo with a hearty "Amen!":
  • Consistent, loving, faithful discipline brings peace to the home. Inconsistency brings chaos.
  • On some days, it's just fine to accomplish nothing more than keeping your kids fed and safe.
  • Arm your children for the world, not (necessarily) shield them from it. Consider getting your high-school-aged children out of the Christian bubble.
  • Make sure your kids keep short accounts with each other. Create a culture of care and forgiveness in your home (1 Cor. 13:5: "Love…keeps no record of wrongs").
  • God uses children as a mirror to your own heart to expose your sin and hypocrisy.
  • God elects. God saves. Parents cannot do this heart-changing work. At best we can pray and point to the One who can cause our children to be born again.
  • Talk to both good and not-so-good parents; you'll learn lessons from both.
  • Talking to really old parents may not prove to be fruitful as their memories fade and they'll remember raising kids as either a nightmare or a glorious experience. Talking to parents 5-10 years ahead of where you are seems most fruitful (Prov. 15:22: "Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed").
  • Don Whitney encourages "brevity, regularity and flexibility" in family worship.
And here are some things he says that challenge me:
  • Preach the gospel of grace, not self-discipline.
  • Parents should become "smaller" as their children become bigger. In other words, a parent should become more transparent in confessing one's sin and in sharing past struggles as children mature. Your children should hear more about your fight for faith as they grow older. Don't be a plastic Christian!
  • Do not feel outside pressure to baptize your children. Look for and test for a credible profession of faith in your child (Prov 22:15 "Folly is bound up in the heart of a child…").
  • One's conscience is not the same as the Law of the Lord. If conscience is defined as "That inner-voice that acts as a guide as to the rightness or wrongness of a behavior," then your conscience is only as good as your knowledge of God's Word. An informed conscience can be a trustworthy thing if it is drawing from God's Word, God's Law. An uninformed conscience is incredibly dangerous. Inform your child's conscience by pouring in God's Word.
Go check it out... it's an excellent article: Lessons for Parenting.

18 comments:

Z' Hodges said...

Yeah, I'm the first! LOL
I usually don't comment due to the great amount of comments. God uses you to be such a blessing dear Sister. Keep being obedient to the Spirit! (smile)

I see I'm not the only one reading a lot of books at a time. I see one book that you're reading that I saw somewhere and was curious about it. (The book on discernment).

But, seriously! Each one that was in that Parenting book was very affirming. I especially value the one about "children as mirrors". It's amazing how God uses things such as dramatic play to expose our little ones hearts.

The last one about the conscience is giving something to chew on greatly because I pray that I'm listening to the Spirit, not conscience.

Thanks for sharing, Sister. May our Lord bless you. Take care.
Zinnada<><

Kelly said...

Well said, very good advice.

Gina@Chats With An "Old Lady" said...

I just finished reading this on the 9 Marks site, and then came over here. Funny!

You wrote: "... Consider getting your high-school-aged children out of the Christian bubble."

I really believe, and have experienced, that if we are daily seeking GOD'S WILL...and if we are praying for God to open our eyes to the opportunities He wants for our children to have in order for them to become who He wants them to be, then they will "get out of the bubble" (as you put it) in a natural way...in God's timing...in His way...in His process.

I know exactly what you mean, and what other's mean, when they talk about the bubble, but I do not have peace about the phrase. I've heard it used so much in a way that it puts pressure on Christians to do things that may not be God's will for them..or may not be the right timing. They do it because someone has made them feel stupid by saying they are in a bubble. I'm not saying that is what you are doing, but I have seen it happen so many times. I think it is better to point people to the Word of God, and remind them of what God has made us for, and then encourage them to seek the Lord as to what HE might want for them or their children to do--in His timing. Each child is different, and at a different place in their walk with the Lord. If we push them "out there" before they are ready it could be a disaster. So, we must diligently seek the Lord and His timing.

If we are not careful, our "wording" can really place burdens on others, rather than challenge them to seek the Lord. There are so many Christian "phrases" like this out there and I don't think people think through the implications when they use them. It might be better to find the scriptures that relate to getting out there and reaching the lost, or being a light, and then encourage parents to pray through those verses and seek the Lord as to when HE wants that to happen in their children's lives. I can tell you from experience, it has been different with each of my children. There's no magic age. It is all about God's timing and leading.

God Bless.

Jess said...

Gina,
Actually, I didn't write that; he did. But nonetheless, I agree with it. Of course we all have to be prayerful about when... but I grew up with a group of people who were never intentionally released into adult life in the real world-- and it was not pretty. NONE of it was pretty.

Right in among the wise counsel of many godly parents out there is some weedy counsel that would have us shelter or shield them as a primary goal of parenting, even as they near adulthood. I am of the view that that is extremely unwise... having witnessed the train wrecks in real life of those who followed that mentality.

Regardless, I agree with him that parents should "consider" getting their high school kids out of the bubble... and I agree with you that we should look to the Word.

I don't think his words are meant to override parental judgment, but to gently nudge those who would (in the name of "good" parenting) never actually do what the Bible specifically links to parenting the very FIRST time the words "mother and father" are mentioned... let their kids leave. We're (in my mind) to parent with the end of "leaving" in mind. (Gen. 2:24).
~Jess

Nancy said...

Hi Jess, Thank you for posting this. It had some really great advice.

homebutnotalone said...

Jess thanks so much for taking the time to post these links. What a lot to think about and pray about.

DarcyLee said...

What a great post! As a parent to older children how they do need to see our transparency more than ever. My husband is so good at this and I try to be that way too. As mothers it's so important to teach and train ourselves out of a job so that our children can leave us and do what God wants them to do.

I think the term "Christian bubble" can be a relative term, and probably means different things to different people. The term can have a broad spectrum of meanings and as parents we have to be careful but at the same time not so fearful about letting our little birds out of the nest when it's time. Trusting God is the main thing because He is ultimately in control, not us. Again, great post.

Jessica said...

I read this article a little while ago and have wondered since what it looks like to preach grace rather than self-discipline. Any thoughts?

Gina@Chats With An "Old Lady" said...

I apologize, Jess. I thought they were your words...and I did not mean to accuse you (or him) of meaning anything inappropriate. I just have a hard time hearing that (and other) phrases, as I believe they are over used and abused...

I, too, have observed the same thing that you shared that you observed...children that were not taught to function in the world. Infact, I have seen some very tragic things happen in families. Those situations are some of the things God has used to get our attention in our parenting. The danger can be to "react" to those things and swing to another extreme...I want to be so careful not to do that. I also believe that if we, as parents, are functioning and relating to the world (even something as simple as being in the grocery store or getting our hair cut---obviously in secular places) then our children will learn from our example. As we make it a natural part of our lives, it will become a natural part of our lives. And when they do start "getting out there", we need to come along side and coach them. It needs to be done prayerfully and carefully.

I also know of some parents that are very proud of the fact that their children are "out there"...not "in the bubble"...and yet their children are not being guided and they are being tossed around from one thing to another, and they are not living for the Lord. But..their parents talk about how they are "out there" and criticize parents who, in their opinion, aren't out of the "bubble". It makes you wonder if they are doing it prayerfully and carefully. Only God knows.

Just some thoughts. I don't mean to make such huge issue out of this, but I have seen many parents "react" to extremes, and then go to the other extreme, and lose their children. So, I guess that I am just stressing that we DO IT PRAYERFULLY!

God Bless.

anna said...

thanks for posting that - I realize that my parents did all of the don'ts very consistently. I love good parenting advice because when the time comes then i am going to need it in order to not repeat my own childhood. great advice, thanks.

lifemoreabundant said...

I was interested to go to the site and read the list. As a Presbyterian, of course I overlooked the challenge on baptism after profession of faith,

but I was concerned at his point #12 - have children when you're young. I'm a lot older than I would have chosen to be when having my second child; but God chose that for us, as He did for Abraham, Isaac, Minoah, Zechariah - just to name a few. I don't think that point belongs in this list.

As I couldn't comment on the nine marks site, you, unfortunately, bear the brunt of my concern. Love your blog and read it every time you post.

Jess said...

Jessica,
Preaching grace rather than self-discipline... it's something I've been meditating on too. I'll share my thoughts, which are by no means complete and finalized.

I think, sometimes, we can have the tendency to try to raise perfect children rather than godly children. I don't mean we do it intentionally-- but we all feel better having a child who obeys and is respectful and polite, etc.-- but we should also (I think this is what he is saying) be sure that they understand and take to heart that there is nothing they can do to merit Christ, or to earn salvation... that while we strive to obey God's laws out of love, it is not our obedience that saves us. The sacrifice made by Christ saves us. Faith in His payment saves us. Not good works or a "cheerful" attitude. And while we know this, we should be sure that our children know and understand this and don't just inherit some kind of works-based "be a good boy and Santa/Jesus will bring you presents" sort of religion.


Other thoughts?
~Jess

svr said...

One book that I always give to new mothers is "Grace Based Parenting" by Dr. Tim Kimmel. It does a great job of discussing this issue of showing children grace and giving them the foundation for a grace based salvation rather than a works based one. I highly recommend it to anyone wanting to go deeper in that area.

Laura said...

lifemoreabundant, I thought exactly the same thing!! As a 27-year-old single gal, it's pretty unpleasant having someone suggest that I'm cheating future kids out of my youthful vitality. I wholeheartedly believe that married folks shouldn't put off having children, so the point is well taken, but I think it could have been phrased in a way that wouldn't be painful to those who had kids later in life through no fault of their own.

Jess, that's the part that stuck with me the most too. I'm a teacher, and I was deeply convicted about disciplining my students out of a desire for them to be quiet and well-behaved rather than a desire for them to see their sin and flee to Christ! Thanks a million for the links.

Gina@Chats With An "Old Lady" said...

again...it is important to remember that although this is a list of really good thoughts about parenting, from a godly man who has raised children (I copied the list, and will go over it again...there was a lot of good there.) He is JUST A MAN. It doesn't mean that everything he said was "right"...or "right for everyone"....it's okay to disagree with him, or evaluate what he said. It's what we are called to do. We should never fully accepte the words of any man...but evaluate them in light of scripture. I would want others to evaluate my words in that same way.

Catherine R. said...

Jess, I am probably going to forward this to my husband.

Now that I am a mom (granted of a one month old, but still...) I have the emotions and ideas going strong. I have been feeling convicted lately of not trying to churn out a little Christian robot.

The bubble thing...yeah I have been thinking about that.

One could reason that letting your kids go crazy might yield good results; I was smoking speed at age 13 and look at how awesome I turned out! But I think I am definitely an exception.

It seems like balance is so hard but so necessary... I mean balance in God's way, not the world's way; love and grace without getting too mushy, you know?

Domestikate said...

Jess,
It's been a while since I've commented. But I had to take time out of my busy schedule to thank you for linking and commenting on this article. I think it would be a good one for my husband and I to discuss over tea.

I too was struck by the "gospel of grace" versus "self-discipline". I think I need more time to prayerfully ponder that one.

Thanks again :)

Christy said...

I've been a long-time lurker here and have never commented before, but have been blessed by this blog for some time. But today I had to comment...

Wow, how funny to stumble onto these points here. I knew it all sounded familiar when I started reading them...only to realize that they were written by an elder in my church and are regularly put forth in our Parenting class. We've been very blessed to have this family in our congregation to watch and learn from.

Regarding what some previous posters mentioned about having children young, I want to say that this man would certainly not condemn anyone for having children at an older age. I'm certain that I can safely say his point would be that it is better for young couples to begin having children soon after their marriage rather than putting off babies for careers or even just to "get to know" each other. Obviously, many couples are unable to conceive immediately, and he's not speaking to those situations, but to the more common circumstances.

I also recommend checking out the link to the full article. And I'd recommend reading the other articles on 9Marks re: parenting, especially the 3-part article on Embedded Portraits http://www.9marks.org/partner/Article_Display_Page/0,,PTID314526%7CCHID598016%7CCIID2438122,00.html.