Spiritual Parenting

spI think, possibly, I might have finally found the perfect parenting book for me. I received a publisher email this morning and this was on today’s list of deals. 99c (Looks like it’s still up at Amazon.com). The title interested me because it sounded like something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.

I know I need to find a new way to parent. The type of parenting I was raised with obviously is horrible, but a lot of the parenting I’ve seen in the church leaves much to be desired. Most of our parenting doesn’t actually seem to come out of the Bible but out of the world’s view of what it should be. It’s why there is actually parenting that is called “conservative” or “liberal.” Neither of those are ideas from Scripture. As I read about each side I find that both twist Scripture to prove themselves right and the other side wrong.

I’ll be honest, the selling point to me (aside from being only 99c) was the recommendation from Larry Fowler of AWANA. If you don’t know, I am an AWANA fanatic. OK, maybe fanatic is a bit over-dramatic, but I loooooooove AWANA. AWANA is actually how I ended up choosing the church I attend. The teaching and Scripture work the kids get there is excellent.

I wasn’t feeling well today so I had a lot of time on my hand. I read through the first chapter as soon as I downloaded the book. I was surprised and excited to see that I was not the only person who had been having the types of thoughts I’ve been having since I began to reassess my parenting post-abuse.

One thing I’ve struggled with is the typical idea of Christian parenting, namely, obedient children. Now, I know we all struggle with getting our kids to obey, but my struggle is with just how important that is. I mean, if my boys grow up to be pure and holy and never “knock up a girl” and yet become judgmental about out of wedlock pregnancy to the point where their words drive women to feel their only option is abortion if they don’t want to shame their families, what good have I done?

(Yes, I really do think that dramatically…I’m a writer. Just be happy I don’t subject you to my fiction. I’ve been assured it’s heart-wrenching.)

Turns out, Michelle Anthony had similar concerns. And it’s more than the usual conservative admonition that not only is obedience is important but also the heart, it seems to go a step farther to point out that only Christ can create true obedience, not some sort of magical parenting formula. And, since in nearly 20 years of parenting that is exactly what I’ve seen, it definitely holds truth for me.

She writes in this first chapter about the type of faith she wants to pass on to her children and her points are exactly mine:

• My children would know and hear God’s voice, discerning it from all others.
• They would desire to obey Him when they heard His voice.
• They would obey Him not in their own power, but in the power of the Holy Spirit.

And then she sold me when she pointed out that Christians usually define themselves by what they don’t do, but, and I swear I was blown away by this one because the words were almost verbatim the ones that have been running through my head lately, “What would it look like if we parented a generation of young people to define themselves by what they…do?”

What if parenting comes down to the truth of God’s Word, namely that we are created in God’s image and that is our ONLY identity? Our identity is not that we went to a certain church, our identity is not that we have been a Christian for X number of years, our identity is not in what our family thinks of us. What if we teach our kids not “Don’t fall in love with the world,” but “Fall in love with Jesus, and the world will look less attractive?”

Much of parenting ideas from my era (I’m getting old ya know. lol) and before was basically domination. If you stepped out of line, an adult would be there to put you in your place, usually by painful physical force or by humiliation. This taints our view of God because, well, God just isn’t like that.

Before I finally left Zelena I went back to the Gospels, then I started reading Scripture in the light of Christ as opposed to the usual Western Christian way of reading Christ in the light of Paul, and everyone else who came after. I found an entirely different God when I did that. He wasn’t a God who said, “Well, you know, I just made you to suffer so you have to tolerate your husband’s abuse in spite of the fact that he really would be OK with you committing suicide, because this is what Sanctification is all about.”

What if we started looking at our parenting in the light of Christ? What if they learned their value from Christ? Not by how good they are or how good their grades are or if they have perfected first time obedience (and, seriously, aren’t we glad God doesn’t come after us the way we do our kids over that issue)? What if we taught them what God is really like? How they are created in His Image and that He loves them, instead of just paying that lip service?

My kids can only learn that if I live it. The spiritual life I wish them to have is impossible if I don’t have it myself. It’s a radical shift from either conservative or liberal values, Biblical values are neither, and, hopefully, this book will explain further how incredibly different that is from what most of us know and accept as “good” parenting.

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