When I Grow Up I Am Going To Be A Good Parent

I am the father of three girls, ages 17, 13, and 8. Parenting is hard enough but having kids at such distinct phases of growing up forces me to wear different hats each time I try to be a father figure.

For my 17 year old, I am thinking about all the things I need to tell her so she can survive a complicated and hard world. For my 13 year old, I am thinking about how can I instill in her how precious she is and that today’s frustrations will be forgotten tomorrow. For my 8 year old, I am trying to demonstrate to her what a father’s love looks like and that she is safe in this world because she has strong parents who love her.

The above paragraph makes me sound so good and noble but the reality is that I am thinking about these things and maybe even acting on these things in the midst of eye rolls, shrugs of disinterest, raised voices, and little patience.

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So much of my work in personal spiritual growth is to be able to manage life as a husband and father. My family is the great laboratory for measuring Christ’s transforming power in me. Everyday I am given a status report as to the improvement I have made in being more loving, or being more merciful, or being forgiving, or being a servant. The old cliche of “parenting will keep you humble” is so true.

The results are not always negative. There are times when I have said something kind and loving that I knew came from a place of Christ transformation and change. There are times when I was willing to sacrifice and extend myself for my children out of care for them and not for myself. There are times when I see past whatever I have planned next and provide words of encouragement, or advice, or teaching that might even resemble what Christ would have said.

I am grateful for my kids and what God has taught me through them and by them. I am grateful that all of my reading, learning, praying, meditating, studying, and work on my own growth in Christ isn’t locked away in a closet but gets a chance to be lived out in a way that stretches me and helps me grow but also, just maybe, benefits the ones that are closest to me.

The Parenting Test

Tests are provided in school to determine how much a student has learned. But does life provide consistent means of assessment when it comes to our Christian life? Sure, we can think of life’s big tests such as disease, death, and tragedy, but what about the every day? Are there moments in our day in which our discipleship to Jesus is put to the test? If you are a parent, it certainly is.

Let’s just take the Sermon on the Mount and Jesus’ teachings against anger in Matthew 5. As a parent of three kids under the age of 13, there are many instances where fighting occurs. You try not being angry when every time you walk out of the room, two of the kids begin to fight and you have to stop what you are doing and go back to the room and tell them to stop fighting.

What about his teaching on oath taking in v. 33? I know that I have made promises to my kids that I haven’t been able to keep and some that I never really intended to keep, I just wanted them to move on to something else. What about the Golden Rule? Do I demonstrate the same respect for my kids as I expect out of them? Sometimes I don’t.

Parenting is a great test of where we are spiritually. If I am impatient, quick to anger, and rarely gentle or kind then I am reminded that I have some work to do and that I need to rely more on Christ to provide the heart change that I need. The tests results are not always pretty but if we are honest with how we parent then we will find the areas where we have the most room to grow.