October 24, 2011

Day 24: Child Rearing ... (and a giveaway!)

This is Part 24 of a month-long series you can learn more about by starting with Day 1 here.  There are many others doing super cool series this month as well, perhaps you'd like to see the list?

Pretty much everyone will tell you that having a child changes your life.

That is true.

The statement is usually it's in reference to the loss of freedom that comes with having a living, human being for whom you're completely responsible.  Yeah, it's a big deal.  And when they're tiny, they demand every ounce of your energy (something I'm trying not to think too much about with the February due date getting closer and closer!)  As they get older, their practical day-to-day neediness decreases, but their need to be loved, nurtured, and encouraged remains.  (Think even now about yourself; don't you still want to be loved, nurtured, and encouraged?)

But that life change need not be only approached from the negative angle, Look at all that I'm losing.  For Scripture attests to children being a blessing.  From our children we can gain new insight into the depth of our own need for the cross.  Believe it or not, this is a HUGE blessing - no matter how painful - and can take us from a look at the freedom lost to a look the freedom gained; praise the Lord perspective.

*     *     *

When Elizabeth was small, I thought I was a pretty good parent, mostly because I had rules and Elizabeth needed to (and often did) obey them.  Comparing myself with other more lax parents was my measuring stick. At least I was doing it "right."


As a result of my authoritarian parenting, I was so hard on Elizabeth.  My expectations were high, as she was generally a compliant child.  And my fear of what others thought of me as a parent was also high - leading to unnecessary harshness on many occasions to "get" her to obey or not embarrass me.  I can remember one occasion being really mad at her coming up the stairs to our apartment, or maybe it was crossing the street to get to the building, I don't remember the circumstances exactly.  But I remember how I felt,

angry, irate, furious.

She was walking way too slow and I was carrying a bunch of heavy things.  Could she not just hurry up so my arms wouldn't break?  For.   goodness.   sake?!

Um, no, she couldn't.  She was one and a half, with short chubby little legs that had only been walking for a handful of months.

Dear Lord, have mercy.  I hate that memory, and others like it.  I could have made two trips with all of the stuff in my arms and gently gotten E to where she needed to be, without the rage.  But I was so very self-absorbed.

*     *     *

Parenting a child will open up so many new doors for a parent to see new depths of his/her depravity, if one's eyes and heart are open to seeing.  Early on in the series I spoke of death having everything to do with moving into the new life to which Jesus calls us.  Admitting that I, as a parent, have a heart problem and it's not just my kids that "make me" do things, means that a little bit more of me has to die.  But as the old sinful habits, reactions, and behaviors begin to change, we're ushered into a new era of parenting - no longer a constant battle of wills, but rather a training ground for both you and your child(ren) to trust the Lord for help with our actions and reactions.  God brings freedom from the tyranny of getting it all right, with our kids' obedience indicating "how we're doing" as parents, and gives us freedom to entrust their little souls to Him, as much as we've entrusted Him with our own.

It is important for our children to be trained and disciplined, yes, but they also need to be respected as individuals with thoughts, feelings, needs, and unique personalities.*  That's where the transformation has had to happen in me.  Embracing the call of motherhood, not only to give my children rules to obey, but to disciple them, guide them, show them compassion when I know how hard it is to consider others before myself, to study their unique personalities and know when they need discipline versus when they need to be put to bed, etc., has made all the difference in our home and in my heart.  (Special thanks to God for Sally Clarkson and MomHeart ministry.)

As a parent you've been called to raise up your little (or big) ones.  When God calls, He provides all we need to pursue the calling.  But he never promises it will be easy.  Think about the call on our Savior's life, that cost Him his life! Most of us will not taste physical death as a result of rearing our children, but we may need to put big prideful chunks of ourselves to death to move forward in faith in this calling, becoming more of the parent God wants us to be.

I do hope and pray that my sin does not have deep, lasting effects on my children.  Anyone else think this at times?!  But knowing that the Jesus I point them to when they find themselves in sin is the same Jesus that I need each day puts a beautiful spin on being their parent.  When they find it hard to share, not hit, respect their father, or obey, I can point them to Jesus.  When I find myself getting all up in a tizzy or having an irritable day, I can say to them, "Wow, mommy's not doing well today.  Please forgive me for taking it out on you.  Please pray that I'll have self-control or patience, or whatever I need."  (I had to do this just today, in fact - and, praise God, it really turned our day around!)

Parents, God bless you as your love, nurture, disciple, discipline, and train your children.  It really is an endless job, but you are not alone and God has good things in store for you and your kids.  Trust Him in and with it all!

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Next Monday our 31-Day journey comes to an end.  One more week.  Phew, this has been a delightful and intense adventure in writing!

To celebrate, I'm going to give away a couple of books next Monday, October 31!  Jerry Bridges is an author who has profoundly influenced my faith, so I'd like to pass along two of his gems.

Respectable Sins 1st (first) edition Text Only
Respectable Sins:
Confronting the Sins We Tolerate
The Discipline of Grace: God's Role and Our Role in the Pursuit of Holiness [Book]
The Discipline of Grace:
God's Role and Our Role in the Pursuit of Holiness

To enter the contest, please leave a comment here, letting me know whether you'd like your name entered for just one or both of the books.  If you have been with me throughout the whole month, I'll give you a bonus entry - be honest!  And if you post about the giveaway on your own blog or Facebook, I will enter your name yet again.  Wow, so many ways to increase your chances of winning; things are getting crazy around here!

Entries will be received until 7:00 am on Monday, October 31.  I'll announce the winners in the final post of the month!

*I wrote a 3-part series last year on What Should We Expect From Our Children.  Click to read:  Part I, Part II, Part III.  The final post has a list of some of my favorite parenting/motherhood reads, if you'd like to go more in depth on this topic.


  1. I can definitely identify with this. I have to admit though, God has been teaching me so much about myself as I parent Caleb and Sadie. They each have their own challenges. We talk a lot with Caleb about our feelings and I find that I use the same language to explain to Sadie when I'm "frustrated" by her behaviors. I don't know how much it helps but I'd like to think that she can understand a little more that I'm not angry at her, that I still love her dearly, even when Mommy yells.

    I've also found that I think back on something my mom-in-law says to me. She first said it when Caleb was initially diagnosed- that "God chose us to be parents to him" It's an overwhelming responsibility but at the same time, you have to be confident in your job when God is believing in you :-)

    I know we're not going to be perfect parents but we're going to do our best and being a parent has taught me so much about grace. I know my parents made mistakes but instead of feeling bitter about the mistakes I'm reminded that they were doing the best they could.

  2. I'm grateful that when God calls, he provides! I'm only 10 months into this calling and I've already discovered a lot, especially that I care way too much what others think of me. Maybe we should talk! :)

    Please count me in for the drawing for both books. I'm about to post on FB for the drawing as well.

    Thanks for your openness!

  3. Jodi, I love that you added what your MIL said! God does put our children in our families on purpose; it's pretty cool and sometimes a little baffling when we feel so inadequate. :)

    I hear you on having to explain yourself to your kids. Sometimes when we're in the middle of school work I get so frustrated with myself that I don't have the words to help E understand a new concept. I'm getting more irritated, but I have to tell her it has nothing to do with her lack of understanding. Same thing can happen when I'm not sure how to respond to specific disobedience or defiance. It all keeps us humble! But I know it has to be a blessing to our kids in the long-run to hear from our own lips that we are human. :)

    Andrea, welcome to the blog!