Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The god of good parenting

In the OT, we see the Israelites condemned for sacrificing their children to deities such as Molech.  But are we really any different?

Certainly, most Christians don’t physically kill their children on the altar of some graven image.  But there are many gods to which we sacrifice the well-being of our children, not the least of which is Convenience.  Baby wakes up in the night crying?  Don’t get up; that child needs to “learn” to self-soothe, to sleep through the night!  Toddler keeps touching off-limits items?  Don't baby-proof; smack his little hand or bottom until he stops reaching for things!  Pre-schooler being "defiant" and expressing her individuality in ways you don't like?  Punish her into non-questioning compliance!

Our children learn about the nature of God through us. 

When we wake in the night with some anxiety and pray, “Lord, I need you!” does God say, “Doggone it!  It’s the middle of the night!  Don’t you remember that you’re supposed to cast all your care on me?  Well, to teach you that lesson, I’m going to be unavailable until daylight.”  Of course not!  When we explore our own beliefs, test God's limits, does our Father thwart our discovery process? Not at all.  When we choose to worship or live in ways that differ from the rest of our religious tribe, does God force us to act a certain way before He accepts and loves us?  Never.

Why, then, do we expect God to bathe us in love and cover us with grace when we do not extend those courtesies to our own flesh and blood?

What happened to "keep us forgiven with You and forgiving of others."? (Matt 6:12)  Or "Don't pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults - unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It's easy to see a smudge on your neighbor's face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own."? (Matt 7:1-3)  Or 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me."? (Matt 25:40)

In my own experience, I have tended to make either "good parenting" or myself god when it comes to my children.  And I was willing to sacrifice my children on the altars of Convenience and Selfishness.  What I didn't realize was that in addition to distorting my children's view of God, I was also hurting the very heart of the Savior.

I do well to remember both the first of the Ten Commandments: "No other gods; only me." (Ex 20:3) and the statement "God is love." (1 John 4:8)  

Monday, July 30, 2012


As a parent, there are days you think, "Really, kid?  Really!?  Have I taught you nothing?"  Or perhaps, "Am I the worst parent ever?"

Yesterday was one of those days...

I try to use our daily moments to teach my children about...well, everything!  About life, about showing kindness to others, about our relationship with God and God's love for us, about social responsibility...everything.

Yesterday...I got to show my kids grace.

It was hard.  My youngers were wiggly and pestery during praise and worship - my unabashedly favorite part of church.  Instead of being irritated, I (mostly) spoke calm correction or simply shifted people in the pew.  My olders decided to save their facepalm-worthy activities for after lunch - when my firstborn and a friend barricaded themselves in the house and my #2 led a charge of hippity-hop bearing neighborhood kids through our house to land a barrage of bouncy blows on his older sib, leading her to conclude calling 911 was the best recourse for reinforcements.

Yes.  Really.

I was embarrassed.  I was angry.  I was frustrated.  Did I mention embarrassed?  But I didn't yell.  I spoke intensely, but in a controlled manner.  I reiterated our house rules (gentle hands, ie no hitting; get permission before allowing friends in the house; 911 is for life-and-death emergencies only).  I imposed consequences.  I listened to excuses and asked questions.  But most of all, I reiterated my unconditional love for my children.  I hugged and wiped tears.  I reassured them that I would not allow guilt and consequences to crush them, but instead we would use the experience to shape us all for the better.

Yesterday...was difficult.  But it was oh, so good.  Not in the theme park, scream-til-you're-hoarse, eat-junk-til-you're-dizzy, happy-happy-fun good.  But Everest-of-laundry-conquering, awe-inspiring, relief-inducing, job-well-done good.

Yesterday...my kids learned the consequences of ill-thought actions.  But they also experienced the security of unconditional love and the wasteful abundance of grace.