The way of the parent is often the way of the Cross: the glory and grace and joy in it come at significant cost.
~ Rachel Stone
What’s easy about parenting? Nothing. In all the things I have tried to do in my life, nothing highlights my feelings of inadequacy like parenting. All I can say is WOW! Parenting is a constant dispenser of humility.
I have such high expectations for my children. I want my children to be perfect (just keeping it real), and I want to be the perfect parent. Not going to happen. This should not be my expectation. Reality is, I have sinful children being raised by sinful parents. Recipe for at least some disaster.
Here is the truth: parenting is not always fun. If our goal in parenting is to be happy, then we have the wrong goal. A better approach is to understand our responsibility as a parent to love them enough to always be honest with them. They will not always respond this way to our training: ”Oh Daddy Dearest, your compassionate rebuke of me lights my way like stars to the heavens. What would I do without your constant guidance?” After I got up off the floor from fainting, I would ask my child what they want and how much is it going to cost me!
Children push our buttons. Even if they know we are right in what we are teaching them, they are not going to make it easy on us. Did you make it easy on your parents? They are going to resist being less selfish just like we do.
There is no such thing as pain-free child rearing. It involves cost, sacrifice, and pain. Now by this time you might misunderstand me to be saying I loathe being a parent. Quite the contrary. The result of my persevering through feelings of inadequacy, sacrifice, and frustration is not misery. It actually produces joy. That’s how it is like the cross. Parenting comes at significant cost when it’s done right, but the result is joy. Joy when you see your child responding to another adult with manners. Joy when you see them put their brother or sister first. Joy when they remind you how much they really need your support. Joy when they get excited about God and following Him.
Parenting is not always fun, but it produces great joy in my life. I love my children fiercely. I love them too much to let them stay self-centered, defensive, and deceitful. It’s going to be painful to call it out in them because they are not going to like it. They will try and make me regret it even if they don’t mean to. But in the end, I trust God to work and the things I suffered to teach them to leave an imprint. And watching them grow up in a healthy, God-honoring way will bring more joy to my heart than all the gold in Alaska ever could.
You cannot be the type of parent I am talking about without God. He is crucial for finding joy in parenting. It is God who teaches us that loving our children means teaching them to live holy. Just like us, our children are desperate for Christ and His formation in their lives. That is why our most important purpose in parenting is to help our children see their desperate need for Christ.
Parenting is not easy, but it is an incredible journey of joy when you approach it the right way.