The Parenting Trap

Here’s the hard truth. Are you ready to hear it? It’s not going to be popular or sugar-coated or comfortable. It’s a trap many parents walk into with the best of intentions, but ignorance of the gospel. Ready? Here it is:

12-2-03You can do everything according to all the experts in your parenting journey, and your kids could still walk away from Jesus.

♦ Stay together as a couple with love and happiness in your household. check

♦ Go to church as a family, build a firm foundation of faith. check

♦ Pray together, both as a couple and as a family. check

♦ Encourage openness, ask the hard questions, be there for them emotionally. check

♦ Provide things for them, but don’t over indulge. Help them learn the value of work and study. check

♦ Give lots of physical affection and words of affirmation. Let them know they are always loved. Show grace, yet speak truth. check

♦ Give them both an anchor and wings. check

Fact of the matter is, no matter what you do right, or what you do wrong; no matter how hard you pray or how close you feel your relationship is, your children still have the choice to go their own way.IMG_6263

It’s heartbreaking.

That’s how God feels all the time. He so loved the world that He gave His only Son to restore the broken relationships. And still people argue that He doesn’t even exist. They insist that they’re better off without Him. They want to do their own thing without restrictions. Without consequences. Without fellowship with God.

It’s devastating.

And yet He loves His children, rebellious or not, and we love ours. He refuses to give up on them, constantly seeking to woo them back. And we don’t give up on ours.

Love them well. I haven’t yet figured out what that looks like, but I know part of it is not throwing their sin in their face. I know it means maintaining a relationship and speaking truth in love. I know it means letting them know that they are loved no matter what they have done, simply because they are my children.

“Weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5b, NIV.)

fullsizeoutput_193On this earth, our nights of weeping are not yet done. But the promise is this: rejoicing comes in the morning. If I didn’t believe that, I would curl up and die.

“Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4, NIV.)

If loving wayward children well can reflect the deep, deep love God has for them, then I will keep loving mine, praying for that day of repentance.

I could look back and say, “We should have made sure they were owning their own faith. We should have listened better. We shouldn’t have let them hang out with that person. We should have kept a better eye. We shoulda, shoulda, shoulda.”

Don’t fall into that parenting trap. Do the best you can, and surrender your children to Jesus. And pray, pray, pray.

Their salvation is not your burden.

Their decisions are not a reflection of your worth.IMG_0780

Much as I want my children’s lives to look like the pretty postcard I pictured when they were born, it’s not about me, and I’m not in control.

No matter the pain and heartache I experience with every decision that rejects Jesus, God is still good.

Through my tears I won’t fall into the trap that says I blew it somewhere along the line; I should have been a better mother.

After all, it’s not about me, it’s about Jesus. It’s always about Jesus.

14 thoughts on “The Parenting Trap

  1. A very timely word – thank you! I have every confidence that you are a fabulous mom, married to a wonderful dad. I think though that is easier to feel that way about someone else but not about oneself. May the Lord continue to help us to love well, to pray well, and to trust. And may His love continue to pursue our kids!!

  2. Yes. In ministry, I have encountered parents who for various reasons feel they failed. Sometimes, the parents did not follow Jesus until their kids were almost grown so they feel guilty. Other times, they did everything you mentioned and their kids still walked away. I am reminded of Ruth Bell Graham who continued to pray for Franklin. God’s grace and mercies are endless. Your job is to love them with God’s love which lives in you. The rest is up to them.

      • My husband’s two aunts walked away from the church as young adults and still haven’t returned. They are wonderful people and were raised by amazing, Godly parents who were revered by many. Ironically, his mom (their sister) has never walked away. Three women, all have been divorced (the two sisters are remarried), all raised by the same parents.

  3. Hard but true words Stephanie. I’m sorry for the pain you are going through, am praying for you and your family and trusting the Lord to continue His work in each and everyone of us. Thank you for the reminder to not blame ourselves. That is what the enemy wants.

  4. Stephanie, I can actually remember when that realization washed over me for the first time. Boy #1 was a baby, already very strong-willed, and I knew that he was his own person and could accept or reject (already) my will for his life, so certainly he could do the same with God. The paint is still wet on this parenting project in our home, but this truth which you have framed so well is never far from my prayer life.

  5. Stephanie,
    I took you up on your [well, really Dave’s] offer to take a look at your blog. You have some really interesting, worthwhile material here. Genuine friendship is a real challenge in a secular society that is SO superficial. If you think it is hard for ladies, it’s even harder for men — I speak from experience as a men’s small group leader and now leader of my church’s men’s ministry. I hope the wives and moms and sisters reading these pieces share them with the men in their lives.
    Blessings to you in Christ Jesus, and may our LORD God guide you in your new path as a full time freelance writer, to His glory.

    • Thank you, Steve! I so appreciate you taking the time to read my words and respond to them. Blessings on your work with the men’s group. So needed. We are grateful for you.

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