The door slams immediately following the eye roll and huffing. And once again I’m left wondering how we got from, “Will you bring me your dirty laundry?” all the way to, “Mom, I’m not stupid!” with a few interjections of, “Now, please!” and, “I know!!” in between.
Breathing deeply I recite Psalm 127:3 about children being a gift from the Lord and remind myself that eleven doesn’t last forever, choosing to forget that twelve will quickly be followed by teenage years. In that moment, all I can hear is my mom’s voice saying, “I hope you have a child just like you someday!!” And my throaty whisper, “Mom, I am so sorry.”
Been there? If you have a child, I imagine you have been there, are there now, or know “there” is coming back around soon.
So, what’s a momma to do? Taking refuge in Scripture, I often turn to Proverbs. Knowing that these verses are filled with the wisdom that comes from experience brings me great comfort … usually that I’m not alone in whatever struggle I’m facing!
That old “go to” verse is familiar:
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6
But, I know parents who have faithfully raised their children in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord” and seen them reject the truth of God’s Word. You probably do too. See, proverbs are simply wise sayings or precepts (dictionary.com) not absolute promises or guarantees.
And so, again I ask, what’s a momma to do?
I’m learning that parenting my daughter has so much more to do with my being God’s child than it does with her being mine. Parenting is hard work! But so is being a child. How many times have you struggled with being obedient to the Heavenly Father? Submission is tough!
In the book of Proverbs I have found four principles of effective parenting – and in them, reminders of how I can continue to grow in my own relationship with my Father.
- Determine to parent character, not behavior. Even a child makes himself known by his acts,by whether his conduct is pure and upright. ~ Proverbs 20:11 Do you focus more on good behavior or a pure heart in your children? Our focus in childrearing must be on our children’s hearts! Yes, we must teach appropriate behavior but at the core, effective parenting seeks to build a child’s character based on the truth of God’s Word.
- Desire wisdom for our children. My son, if your heart is wise,my heart too will be glad. ~ Proverbs 23:15 Are you praying that your child will exhibit wisdom? We need to be intentional about encouraging wise choices and wise thinking in the lives of our children.
- Develop an eternal focus at home. By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches. ~ Proverbs 24:3-4 What is the focus in your home? Is it temporal or eternal? Build your home with an eternal passion … engaging your children in sharing the Gospel, reaching the poor and oppressed, and ministering to the widows and orphans.
- Discipline with purpose. The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother… Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart. ~ Proverbs 29:15, 17 We must not be afraid to discipline our children; likewise, we must be willing to question our motives and purposes in discipline. Scripture tells us that a loving father will discipline his son but, as one who has experienced the discipline of the Father, that discipline is never rooted in anger, fear, or comparison.