4 Parenting Scenarios That Will Surprise You

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If you abide by God’s plan to unconditionally love your kids, then you'll have obedient children in return, right? Sarah Eggerichs explains why being a loving parent doesn't guarantee having a respectful child.

Most of us assume that if we abide by God’s plan to unconditionally love our kids, we will have respectful, obedient children in return. Isn’t this a guarantee?

No.  And this is what really revolutionized our thinking on parenting.  A loving parent does not guarantee a respectful child.

We Felt We Failed

As Emerson was writing a book on parenting, not only did disturbing memories from his own childhood come back to him, but both of us struggled with our personal memories of where we failed as a father and mother.

Our son David, now in his 30s, highlights the struggle Emerson encountered:

I believe for my father, writing this book has been the single most difficult undertaking he has experienced other than my mother having breast cancer. For two years, as my father wrote this book, his level of introspection on his methods of parenting has caused large amounts of pain and even regret. He has painstakingly attempted to expose all of his and my mother’s struggles, mistakes, and imperfections as parents.

Emerson shares how he wanted to give up writing primarily because he felt he had often failed our own three kids, but it was these same kids who wouldn’t let him quit! They cheered him on, telling him he needed to give himself more grace. And in the end, they signed off on everything – the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Some of you need to give yourself more grace too.

Rejected Wisdom and Faith

A repeated statement in the book of Proverbs hit both of us like a ton of bricks.  Over and over Solomon writes to “my son.”  First we thought he was writing figuratively, but then realized he was writing to his son Rehoboam who did not follow his counsel.

Solomon was considered the wisest man to live, yet his own son rejected his wisdom and chose evil!

It’s Not All About Our Parenting

After researching other parents and offspring in the Bible, Emerson found four different scenarios:

  • Good parents with good kids. (Zacharias and Elizabeth with John the Baptist.)
  • Bad parents with bad kids. (Ahab and Jezebel with Ahaziah.)
  • Bad parents with good kids. (King Amon and his son Josiah.)
  • Good parents with kids who reject their parent’s godliness and choose bad. (Samuel had two rebellious sons.)

In an odd way, this encouraged us because it challenged us to recognize that we are only responsible for our half of the equation. Our kids have the free will and responsibility to decide what they will do with their half. Obviously, our desire is that they would all follow Jesus with their whole heart, and if they choose not to, we will be grieved. But we don’t need to carry the burden of personal guilt on top of our grief, if we have parented God’s way.

A Good Father who had “Bad” Kids

We all know the story of the prodigal son. But think about the father. He had two sons:  a selfish, indulgent second born (the prodigal) and an older son who was self-righteous, judgmental, and angry.

We probably wouldn’t invite this father to our church to teach on how to parent.

Yet Jesus tells us that this father represents Abba Father!

Are some of you parents of a prodigal?  Are others of you standing in judgment of those who are?

Keep Your Eyes on Jesus

Some of you have loved your disobedient child by keeping your eyes on Jesus, and this has touched the heart of Christ in ways you cannot imagine. I believe you are parenting God’s way and will hear “Well done good and faithful servant” even though your child has wandered away from the faith.

As we parent “unto Christ” we reap God’s reward, “knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord” (Ephesians 6:8).

We can choose to parent God’s way, in spite of the actions of our children. We can hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Questions for reflection:

  1.   When you get discouraged will you believe God’s word or your feelings?
  2.   What can you do this week to encourage someone who feels like a “bad” parent?

Remember, we are only responsible for the parenting part. It may or may not equal good kids (right now). But the end of the story hasn’t been written yet. Can we trust God with the outcome?

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