The Right Way to Parent

Starting when I was pregnant with my first, I was on the search for the Right Way to Parent. There had to be one, right? We've all seen those kids who grow up in seemingly perfect good homes and they turn out pretty darn good. When I saw those kids grow into adulthood and not waiver from their faith, I would think, "Those people have the secret formula! I want to know what it is too.”

So I did what I usually do--I read about it. If there’s a book on parenting, I’ve probably read it.
And every time I would read a book I would think, "THIS! This is it! This is the way to get Good Children Who Turn Out to Be Good Adults Who Love the Lord."

And while all of those books have great ideas and I have gained something from all of them, good or bad, I still was relying on The Right Way to Parent mentality. To be honest, the older my children get, the more sin shows up in their life AND MINE and I feel like I’m losing control some days and I get anxious and then I would stress out and talk to my husband and decide I was a bad mom so I would.... read another book. 

There HAD to be a Right Way!

Well, it turns out there is a Right Way, or Right Person, however, and He was there all along. I’m talking about the Holy Spirit.

I'm realizing that instead of relying on Twelve Steps to Better Kids, I need to rely on God. Is that painfully obvious or what? I'm a slow-learner, I know.

Practically speaking, that means several things for me: I (try to remember to) pray every morning for wisdom. Wisdom to train each child in the way he or she should go (Prov. ). Then I continue to pray throughout the day--for wisdom for each situation. Because each situation is different and each child is different. There isn’t One Size Fits All training. I’ve tried it and it just doesn’t work.
Another thing that has really helped me is figuring out what my goals are as a parent. This was suggested to me by my wonderful husband one evening as I was lamenting to him how horrible a mom I was. He point blank asked me, "What are your goals as a parent? Do you want to raise kids that are perfectly obedient no matter what the cost? Even at the cost of your relationship?" 

You see my dear husband, he knows me. He knows that that is exactly what I don't want. I don’t want to sacrifice the relationship with my children for anything. Because, I believe having a close relationship with them will ultimately lead them closer to Christ. And that is my goal. They are not going to give a rat's patootie what I say if they don't feel invested in, loved and appreciated by me.

Of course I want obedience, too. But that doesn't mean that I have to be a strict disciplinarian who demands obedience without any grace no matter the cost. That isn't how God is with us, why should I treat my children differently? Quite frankly, that is my first go-to parenting method though. I’m trying to change that. I’m trying (and failing a lot) to show grace and be compassionate and understanding.

I'm not saying I won't ever read another parenting book. In fact, I'll probably always be reading some sort of parenting book at any given time. They keep me inspired and refreshed and focused on the job at hand.

But I won't, I repeat, I won't rely on them solely for making sure my children turn out Right. Because that's the Holy Spirit's job. Sure, I'm here to help and the Lord has entrusted me with my children for a reason, but if my heart is right with Him, then I'll leave the Heart Work for my children up to Him too. At the end of the day, He's the one who really changes people anyway.

With all of that said, I have found that Sally Clarkson's resources for parenting are wonderful. Because they actually encourage what I've said here—they encourage you to follow the Holy Spirit's leading. To train your children the way Jesus trained and loved his disciples. To treat them the way the Lord treats us.

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