As I've been reading Faith and the Modern Family by Craig Jutila, I came across this quote:
So how do we learn to be better parents? By reading what God's Word has to say, by reading parenting books written by experts in the field, by talking to other parents, and by having open and honest communication with our kids. (pg. 97 emphasis added)
This got me thinking about how I parent and how I need to grow in the areas mentioned. Do you want to become a better parent? Here are the areas that need regular attention.
2 Peter 1:3 reminds us that God has "granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness...", that certainly includes parenting. Where do we find these things? In His Word, illuminated by the Spirit.
Why should we look there? For at least 2 reasons: He created us, and He is our Father. Because God is the Creator, He is the ultimate authority over that creation. Because God is our heavenly Father, there can be no one better to look to for how to be the kind of parent that speaks the truth with love and grace. Remember God is love (1 John 4:8).
Talking to Other Parents
I know I'm taking them out of order; I don't know if Jutila had them in order of importance. I think this one should follow God's Word though. Talking with other parents who you are in community with, who know you well, who see things about you that you might not see yourself, can be extremely helpful. They can speak directly to you and your situation. This is yet another reason to be involved in community and do life with other people, especially people who are a slightly different stage of life than you (younger AND older). This is how we love (1 John 4:7), serve (1 Peter 4:10), and encourage (1 Thes. 5:11).
Reading Parenting Books
Not that this isn't important and isn't helpful, I just think talking with other parents is more so. Reading books is helpful when thinking in generalities. Reading good parenting books is helpful so that you can see the forest around the trees. It can be tricky finding "good" resources. Other parents (as well as pastors) can be helpful in this area as well. And just so that it's perfectly clear Faith and the Modern Family is a GOOD book.
Open and Honest Communication with Our Kids
This probably deserves to be higher on the list as well, maybe even number two. In order to have open and honest communication it must work both ways. While, yes, there must be respect from child to parent, there must also be patience and understanding from parent to child. Parents, we must be ready and willing to repent before our children when we mess up ... and we will mess up, no one is the perfect parent. Jutila reminds parents of how important being patient in this way:
We need to understand the difference between rude behavior and an innocent mistake. We need to understand the difference between childish irresponsibility and direct defiance. (pg. 107)
As we demonstrate our faith in real and personal ways, with patience and understanding, our kids will feel the freedom to be vulnerable with where they are at and what they are struggling with, which will lead to greater and deeper communication.
For parents who are desiring to grow in this privilege and responsibility, these are some great suggestions. What do you think is either missing or needs be added? Leave a comment.
All quotes taken from Faith and the Modern Family by Craig Jutila ©2014 and published by Regal From Gospel Light