…Or does it?
My son David, now in his 30s, highlights the struggle I had with writing a book on parenting:
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.
He’s right. As I wrote, disturbing memories came back to me not only from my own childhood, but from my failures as a father. Many days I wanted to give up, feeling completely defeated.
Ironically, though I wanted to give up writing primarily because I felt I had often failed my own three kids, it was these same kids who wouldn’t let me quit! They cheered me on, telling me I needed to give myself more grace. And in the end, they signed off on everything I shared - the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Some of you need to give yourself more grace too.
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 the guarantee?
No. And this is what really revolutionized my thinking and parenting. A loving parent does not guarantee a respectful child.
One day a repeated statement in the book of Proverbs hit me like a ton of bricks. Over and over Solomon writes to “my son.” First I thought he was writing figuratively, but then I 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!
I then researched other parents and offspring in the Bible and what I found were four different scenarios:
1. Good parents with good kids. (Zacharias and Elizabeth with John the Baptist.)
2. Bad parents with bad kids. (Ahab and Jezebel with Ahaziah.)
3. Bad parents with good kids. (King Ammon and his son Josiah.)
4. Good parents with kids who reject their parent’s godliness and choose bad. (Samuel had two rebellious sons.)
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.
Would you invite this father to teach in your church on how to parent?
Probably not. 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?
I believe that some of you who feel judged 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 have parented God's way and will hear "Well done good and faithful servant" even though your child has wandered away from the faith.
Parenting is a faith venture. 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 NKJV).
Will you choose to parent God’s way, in spite of the actions of your child? You too can hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”