14 February 2014

Parenting: *don't* do it afraid.

I was recently asked how my parenting has changed over the last couple of years. Here are some 'ponderings' on that.

I think the biggest change, the fundamental change that has affecting my parenting the most, is I'm no longer afraid. I'm not afraid of my children not learning to obey, because I know the power of Jesus' love. I'm not afraid of bad things happening to them, because I trust them to God. (I'm still CAREFUL--I just don't freak out (much) anymore. I still have a pretty major thing about my kids in high places or near precipices.) Because I'm so much more accustomed to the fact that God's love for me is wildly generous and totally unconditional, I don't worry about what anyone else thinks. I just treat my children as best I know how--as equal individuals. Very much as I wish to be treated. Honestly. Openly. And able to make my own decisions.

They do stand in a position of lesser authority and responsibility in some ways in my home, but I do my best to treat them as I want to be treated, and to not "baby" or patronize them. I firmly believe they are able to do good things, to step up to the opportunity of making a choice, and making a GREAT one. My 5 1/2 year old has taught me the most about this, because my "old" way of doing things UTTERLY DID NOT WORK with him. Totally. Like, "it no workie" kind of total failure. (In the comic below, my 5yo is Dilbert, on the left. I'm on the right. And yes, I've had my touchy & defensive moments. lol I'm better now, though. Praise God!)

He is such a fun, personality-filled little guy. He LOVES to laugh, and be just really good friends. He loves me incredibly, and I've learned a lot about love from him. About how love doesn't coerce. Or boss others around heavy-handedly. How love appeals to the love in the other person, and lets their conscience work at its full ability, instead of trying to convict of wrongdoing or manipulate.

I have learned to trust the innate goodness in my children. To see them as complete, whole people, who honestly want to do what's right, and look to me for example and support. But most of all: I try to treat my children the way that Jesus treats me. I keep them from physical harm, feed & clothe them, and do those fundamental things. But all of the "technique" and "style" stuff that people usually argue over is really simple: I follow Jesus' lead with me.

The short (and ultimate) answer is get to know Jesus. Let Him be a real, full, complete person to you. Abandon every construct and preconception about Who He is, and how He works, and let Him reveal Himself to you however He sees fit, and teach you using whatever means He chooses. He wants to teach you even more than you want to learn! He wants to lead you on an amazing romance adventure of epic proportions . . . to sweep you along, to take your breath away, to show you His love in a measure and fullness you've never even imagined. Being in love with Jesus is like a crush, the early stages of getting to know someone you're falling hard for. You think about them. A lot. You want to talk to them, listen to them. You want to watch their face, learn their character and personality. You stay up all night talking to them, largely unconcerned for the consequences, because you can't imagine doing anything else.

But don't worry if you don't feel that way right now. It grows as you let Jesus come into your life, and the amazing, beautiful friendship with Him unfolds. The more you get to know Him, the more you can't help longing for His company, for hearing from Him. And the more you know Him, the more you will know how to really and truly love and serve the people in your life.

Know thou the Lord! :o) As parents, so much in blessing and joy lay ahead as we do.