The Perfect Christian Parenting Plan

I have spent a lot of time in prayer regarding Dillinger this week specifically. Despite all the books that are published by Focus on the Family or Thomas Nelson that give steps to sinless, compliant children, the realization that whatever parenting plan we implement could implode at any moment leaves me feeling overwhelmed. Which in turn leads me to pray for wisdom, only sometimes out of sheer panic! ;) Because I am torn over everything from whether canned food is safe for me to be eating while pregnant to spanking to how to teach Dillinger how to be a missionary in culture when children’s television is my concept of eternal torment.

The fact is, I’m already a failure of a parent because I sin. I sin again the Lord, obviously. I sin against my son (and husband!) in things like selfishness, pride and arrogance, being convinced I know what’s best for his life, etc. As one of the deacons pointed out at the women’s conference at church last week, there is no plan that will create sinless mommies and sinless children in three easy steps. If there were, the Bible would likely be a pamphlet instead of a thousand pages of single paced text! And we wouldn’t need to depend on the Lord and could accomplish “good” kids on our own.

As in so many other areas during this particular season, I’m learning that pretending I have the perfect plan will only fly for so long. I can use fear and force to get our child to obey (hence the spanking conundrum) and that works until he are no longer afraid of us. I can let our child rule our home until he becomes dictators, but as anyone knows, a dictatorship is hard to overthrow without bloodshed. Where is the balance?

Through my time praying, I’m realizing I need to be way less concerned about whether Dillinger’s room is clean and way more concerned about his attitude and his heart. As Christian parents, it’s so easy to put bedtime on the same level as Jesus’ death on the cross in the name of obedience but there’s no way that glorifies God even though it might be easier in the moment! The ultimate lesson is not that a clean room means mommy won’t yell at me. The ultimate lesson is that mom and dad won’t always be around to “make” you obey (and in our case, don’t want to!), so you need to learn to listen to the Holy Spirit and Scripture on your own when no one is watching and act on that.

The Lord knows my son better than I ever will, so why go to the so-called experts on Christian parenting when I can go to his Creator? Dillinger is not a robot that with enough spankings will be programed into a moral person who doesn’t embarrass his mom and dad. And he isn’t the king of our household until another sibling or his parents decide to usurp his power. He’s a sinner in need of Savior whose grace is the motivation for good work. In short, my perfect parenting plan is not a plan at all – it’s dependency. The act of consistently pointing our son to the Cross – through our confessed sins and his – and knowing that picture of grace will be enough. It might not look pretty, but the Cross is not a pretty sight and only at the foot of the Cross do we have any hope for parenting and life in general.

 

*Side note: are my bump pics excessive? I am not trying to come across as vain, mostly just want to update people who aren’t on Instagram! But if I need to slow my roll, I have no problem doing that. :) This pic was at 24 weeks. He’s grown a TON in the last three weeks. :)

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “The Perfect Christian Parenting Plan

  1. Sleepdoctorjoe

    Hi Tori! Beautiful and heartfelt post.
    One thing I learned early as a parent is that with children, they hear your voice, but more importantly, they watch your footsteps. It is their watching your your walk that is the strongest influence!
    The Fab Four are now 13, 12, 9, and 6. We do not and have not spanked. Ever. My lovely wife made that decision and it’s non-negotiable. I grew up in a spanking household; and as a kid, I considered it more or less, “the price of doing business”! :) It has worked for us. God has a wonderful sense of humor as we have four with very different personalities and methods in which motivation and discipline are very different. Requires much prayer, angst, and creativity.
    The Fab Four are doing well thus far. Three of Four are in the gifted program at school and all four excel academically; leaders among their peers whether in school, church, scouts, or athletics; and we ALWAYS hear about how well behaved they are. I used to hate when it would occur, because I felt people were being patronizing. My lovely wife, who is out and about more with them and others told me people were being genuine in talking about the Fab Four.
    God handed down to Moses the Ten Commandments. As Christians we try to adhere to them. In our house we have just three simple rules that are non-negotiable:
    1. Listen to Mommy and obey the rules.
    2. We do not lie.
    3. We love and respect one another.
    Mommy is stressed because she is the centerpiece in our house.
    We can work on many issues and situations by just keeping these three things front and center. We stress God and family first, and we treat the word “fair”, like the other four letter F word. We stress that we will not always be fair, but we will be reasonable. Rarely is the fair word used, unless it pertains to sports.
    You and your husband will do well. Enjoy the adventure, for the rest of your life!

  2. seattlerungirl

    No such thing as the “perfect” parenting plan. And every kid is different. And AMEN to listening to your child’s CREATOR rather than (or at least more than) the “experts” in parenting. Have you read Spirit-Led Parenting? Its premise is basically what you talk about in your post – there is no “right” way except to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit in raising your individual child.

    Bump pics not excessive. :)

    • I’ve never even heard of Spirit-Led Parenting but it sounds like it would be worth a read. There is no perfect plan and no plan that consistently yields perfect results. It was never up to us anyway, we are simply to be good stewards of the hearts and souls that the Lord entrusts to us.

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