Monday, March 30, 2015

Parenting without the goal of obedience

Tried to think of a snazzy title and that's the best I could come up with hehe!

Rule followers like myself tend to gravitate toward other extreme rule followers. They make us comfortable and happy lol.

 I've found it interesting how this has influenced my parenting. See, I think rule followers like myself and even non rule followers have this problem in parenting.......we creating a system where obedience and politeness are the ultimate goal. While it's right and appropriate to praise good behavior (especially in the tiny years!) so that they can learn what is wrong and right, when we make obedience the end all I think we are missing a really big big point. And creating and even bigger problem.

It's easy to begin correlating obedience and rule following with the state of their heart overall (not just in that moment). Even to the extreme of saying they are a BAD girl or GOOD boy instead of addressing the behavior alone. The reason I think this is so important is that it's so so easy to make obedience the end all because it IS so important in parenting. In no way is this saying to not discipline or help your kids strive for obedience -- but it's the practice of keeping their heart always as the focus. One child may be so "good" because they follow rules and hardly ever disobey-- but that is not necessarily a reflection of where their heart is with God.

I know this because as a rule follower it's incredibly easy to follow rules and please people without ever having a submissive heart to God. What I am trying to learn and grow into is constantly modeling what it looks like to obey God in pleasure not obligation as my kids get older. I (The PARENT) am not the supreme authority. They have to see that I too am submissive to Christ because I also make mistakes.  It's changing that conversation from "you need to be good" to "you can't be good on your own, let's ask Jesus to help you obey and be kind".  It's God's grace that saves them not their obedience.

Something that I've heard myself do also that is dangerous is using "Jesus" as a scapegoat in a sense. "God" wants you to obey and be good, it hurts "HIM" when you do this. That's almost like saying "we're ok, but you really made Jesus mad." I really think this also is so negative because it grinds into our children from the get go that God is up there with a rule list wanting them to be perfect or they're out! He's just waiting for them to fail! Instead of the opposite that we see in scripture of him welcoming home the prodigal son with open arms.

Parenting this way is a daily challenge. Because I gravitate towards just wanting them to follow my rules! Can't they just be GOOD?! But again no they can't. Just because as an adult I've learned how to act appropriately in society and be polite doesn't mean my heart is good with God. It also is crucial to remind myself my kids are children, and little ones right now! My mom always says "Isn't it amazing when kids act like kids?". Meaning, why are you surprised when kids do things that a KID WOULD DO! We are here to teach them, we are here to discipline and correct -- and to do those things with the grace God has shown us. Constantly pointing them back to him. Taking the time to figure out what's going on in their heart. Right now my kids are 1 and 3 so it's a lot of just managing and teaching. But I still think even at these stages it's crucial to begin the conversations at least daily about how we turn to Jesus for help in doing what is right and good.

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