Parenting Perspective

These days are full of making pots of tea for little and large souls alike, chasing down fresh pairs of socks, tending plant babies, finding ways to train tiny humans more graciously than training in reaction, and realizing the One who does the work on my soul is always with me. The laundry never stops and there are always weeds to be pulled, both in the garden and in our souls. There are carrots to peel and chop, peppers to prepare, broccoli and cauliflower to roast, bread to bake. This and that little soul needs comforting from physical or heart bruises. There are delicious books to share with those same little ones. Never a day goes by where we do not sit and read at least one book of some kind. 

More and more, I see motherhood/parenting through different eyes. This whole training thing? From young up, I translated it as changing behavior to please authority. And I guess that might be some of it, but that isn’t the root of it. Over the past two years a different perspective has simmered deeply in my heart. I have come across this different perspective through reading (the Bible, other books, and articles on the subject) and through many conversations with different wise mentors. 

The perspective: we are training our young ones to obey us, first-because God’s word says they are to obey, but second because one day they will need to make the choice to obey things God asks of them. If we train them now, they will have a better foundation in obedience to God. This perspective is also one of showing them the difference between sin and its choices and living in a way that is pleasing to God and that brings Him glory. 

It is quite easy to fall into the lie that our children need to have this perfect behavior. We forget sometimes that we too needed much training and correction as small children. We also forget that even now in our journeys with Jesus, we still need His guiding hand of love and mercy and discipline. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” After reading the verse in context, I meandered down to the notes in my ‘88 edition of the KJV study Bible. “Train up a child refers to the total process of molding a child’s life. The word train (chanak) comes from the root word meaning to ‘put into the mouth’ and implies the idea of conditioning the palate. Thus, parental training should help children develop a taste for the things of God. The biblical pattern of effective parental training emphasizes a balance of instruction and discipline…..The verse stresses the simple principle that education in the home forms the man throughout his lifetime.” 

I am fascinated with this concept. I think it sinks deeper now that I’m a parent. What I feed my child is what he will devour with that cultivated appetite. I see it now in how my children eat food. We have never fed them meals separate from ours. They eat what we eat. Our meals are varied and include foods many people in my sphere do not eat on a daily basis. We eat beans of all kinds, lentils, chickpeas, and a wide variety of fruits and veggies, as well as many foods that would be considered more “normal.” My children eat much of it; and what they don’t eat, we get them to try a small bite at that meal, then again throughout many weeks. What I’ve seen is both my children start to eat the things they thought they didn’t like. I see this same concept in what we read, what we watch and how much we watch, and what we listen to or the people we are around. Are we developing in our children a taste for the things of God or something else? 

You know the age old thing of children being sponges. It’s frighteningly but amazingly true. We as parents have such an amazing opportunity to guide and train our children in a way that is good and right and holy. 

Before I say this next thing, let me just raise my hand and say this was my attitude until God changed my heart. It’s also to say that it’s not that I don’t occasionally struggle with said attitude, but I’m quick to pop in right back in its place. Guys, children are a blessing. Psalm 127:3 puts it this way, “Lo, children are a heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is His reward.” Far too often the attitude that pops up is that somehow the children that we were blessed to carry, are a bother. We can’t wait to toss them on the bus headed to school so we can have some time for ourselves. God has started to grieve my heart about this. I have such a limited time to love and nurture and train the precious little heads that bob through my house. I never want to view them as a bother, something to quickly get to point B so I can move on to what I want to do. I’m learning to gather them to me and draw them into what I am doing instead of grumbling that I don’t get time to do the things I need to do. I’ll be honest though, my tiny humans and I are still figuring this out. I am not perfect at it, but my gather-them-to-me muscles are growing stronger each day. My heart is getting softer toward the precious little souls that Jesus saw fit to give me to train for Him.

I am grateful that He continues to change my heart and to train me. My edges are still rough. My journey with my children is not over, but I hope that it will glorify Him and encourage those who are where I was several years ago.

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