According to Dr. James Dobson, 80% of parents feel like they’re failures! Listen to what he writes in his book, “Parenting Isn’t For Cowards: “Throughout the Scriptures, it is quite clear that the raising of children was viewed as a wonderful blessing from God – a welcome, joyful experience…We’ve had enough self-condemnation. What we need now is a do-able dose of confidence in our ability to raise our children properly.”
Like some of you, I’m a parent in process but in this monthly column I hope to share a biblical perspective on how best to live out our faith at home so that our children can grow up to know and love God. Simply put, our job is to teach our children how to obey (see Ephesians 6:1-3). This is not always easy, is it? It’s like the little boy who was overheard praying, “Lord, if you can’t make me a better boy, don’t worry about it. I’m having a real good time like I am.”
As parents we want to move our children from dependence to independence. When they’re born, they are 100% dependent on us. Everything they need, we must supply. As they grow up, they learn to do more and more by themselves. Slowly the percentage of dependence drops to 80%, 50%, 30%, 10%, and by the time they are ready to leave home, they should be ready to live successfully on their own. In a spiritual sense we want our children to move from 100% dependence on us to 100% dependence on God.
That perspective explains the various rules and regulations that parents have for their children. We tell them “No” now so that they will tell themselves “No” later. We give them external rules today so that years from now they will voluntarily choose to follow those principles on their own.
I can remember when I was teaching one of our daughters how to ride her bike. I was running with her with one hand on the back of her bike as she meandered down the road because I wasn’t ready for her to go solo yet. As I was running as fast as I could she hit the brakes and I went flying over both her and the bike and landed in a pile on Dorothy Drive. I wasn’t too happy with her quick stop but when I saw her sweet smile I just hugged her and limped home.
Being a parent is a lot like teaching a child to ride a bike because you have to know when to hold on and when to let go. And if you don’t let go, you’re going to get very tired running along beside and you may end up with some serious road rash.
We must guide our children and then launch them when they’re ready. It’s the idea of giving them both roots and wings. And like John the Baptist said in John 3:30, as parents we must get to the spot where we say, “He must increase, I must decrease.” That’s our role as parents; as they increase, we must decrease.
You don’t have to feel like a failure. Cultivate your own faith, plug into a church and partner with other parents in the greatest adventure possible – that of passing along your faith to the next generation!