How can I be a good parent?
By: Abby Custer
I’ll never forget the first time that my daughter deliberately disobeyed me. I had asked her to pick up her blocks several times, but instead of listening, she joyfully threw them across the room with a cute little giggle and then ran off to her next adventure. I was completely floored. How was it possible that my perfect little angel wasn’t so perfect after all? It was at that moment I realized that parenting is not for the faint of heart!
As teenagers and young adults, most of us have experienced moments with our parents that caused us to say things like, “When I have kids, I’ll never treat them this way.” But when you find yourself in the parental role, it’s easy for history to repeat itself because you are modeling what you have been taught. One of the biggest things that I have realized about myself as a parent is that so often my pride gets in the way. Usually, when I am most frustrated with my child’s misbehavior, it’s because I’m worried about what other people will think of me as a parent.
But when I find myself disappointed by my child’s behavior, it also gives me the closest glimpse into God’s love and forgiveness for
me. I often wonder how many times God looks at me and thinks, “Why is she doing this again? How many times do I have to tell her?” But the amazing thing is that this is the opposite of God’s heart. He will always hope for our repentance because he loves us and wants to forgive us. As a parent, there is no greater model for how to love your child than the way God loves us – unconditional, without fail, always waiting with open arms.
As much as I’d like to say that parenting gets easier as your child gets older, or as you have more children, I can’t. It’s probably one of the toughest jobs that God has entrusted to us on earth. Just take a look the next time you are browsing in a bookstore at the heavily stocked shelves of parenting manuals and books. Children have been around for a long time and we still haven’t figured it out! Personally, one of the best studies I have ever done as a parent was at our church and it was based on Craig Caster’s book, “Parenting Discipleship.” You can download a free copy here: Parenting Course – Family Discipleship Ministries (fdm.world)
This biblical study completely changed the way I parent my children and helped to set consistent rules and discipline in our home. There are definitely some excellent options out there in terms of books and studies, but nothing beats the word of God. He has given us the perfect manual on how to handle our fears and mistakes, and how to encourage and guide us through the ups and downs of this journey. So regardless of the parental model that you were given as a child (good or bad), remember that we have the best example to follow, and I’m so thankful that His mercies are new every day.
“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6
“Discipline your children, and they will give you peace; they will bring you the delights you desire.” Proverbs 29:17
“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23
“Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them – not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be.” 1 Peter 5:2
“These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:6-9