The Perfect Parenting Formula

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What parenting formulas (if any) have you been following or holding onto?

"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." Romans 12:2a (NIV)

When I was a young mom, I was desperate for a formula. I truly thought there must be a formula I could plug my family into that would yield great kids. And there were plenty of moms who tried to convince me they had the formula.

"Bottle feed and never let them sleep in your bed."

"Breastfeed until they are 3, and give them the security of sleeping between you and your husband every night."

"Don't ever send them to pre-school. It will be detrimental to their social development."

"Send them to pre-school right away — it's crucial for their social development."

"TV is good."

"TV is bad."

"They must read by age 5."

"Let them take their time learning to read. You'll ruin their love for books if you force them."

"Step in and model healthy conflict resolution when they argue with their siblings."

"Let them handle things on their own."

"Be there 24/7 for your kids."

"Don't be a helicopter mom. Give your kids room to discover who they are without you hovering over them."

Seriously, it's a wonder we moms figure anything out with all the conflicting information and advice we get. I spent the first five years of motherhood convinced I was messing my kids up beyond repair. And it wasn't for lack of trying. Heavens no. I was serious about gathering every morsel of information I could and trying with all my might to decode "the formula."

Well, here's the deal. I now have kids ranging in ages from 26 to 15, and this is my very best advice in regards to the formula: There isn't one.

There is no perfect parenting formula. What works for one child may not work for another. The seemingly perfect algorithm one family follows could be disastrous for another.

We weren't made to follow formulas. We were made to follow Jesus. Period.

This is true with parenting, but it's also true with every other aspect of our lives as well. We were made to follow Jesus' lead in our marriages, our jobs, our ministries, our churches, our friendships, our everything.

In Romans 12:2 Paul so powerfully reminds us, "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will."

We weren't made to be robotic followers of this world's formulas. We were made to be transformed into the unique person God appointed to fulfill the assignments set before us. So, on a practical level, what does this look like?

It's a simple woman who humbly acknowledges how much she doesn't know about life and readily admits how much she needs Jesus. Not just in a spiritual sense ... this woman needs Jesus in every way. All throughout her day, she can be heard whispering heartfelt pleas to her Jesus saying, "Show me the way, show me the way, show me the way."

And as she does this, she loosens her grip on all the formulas thrown at her and courageously embraces His gentle voice behind her saying, "This is the way, now walk in it" (Isaiah 30:21).

Dear Lord, help me to follow You and You alone — not a pre-planned formula. Help me to see that I need You more than anything else today. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Romans 8:5, "Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires." (NIV)

John 10:27, "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me." (NIV)

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
What parenting formulas (if any) have you been following or holding onto?

This week, take some time to pray over each of them to discern if they are in accordance with God's plan for you and your family.

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