Why does parenting always seem like a war?
by Chris Forder
Like every family we long for those times when your family works so well together. For example, when you connect and have deep and meaningful chats with your kids and can see the fruit in their life; times when your kids treat each other with kindness and love, putting each others needs and wants before their own. I call this the ‘peace time’. And praise God, we do experience these times. They are wonderful and magical, but they seem to occur as often as solar eclipses. Most of the time is spent either in battles with your kids or breaking up battles between them. Maybe I am just sharing too much about the Forder’s! Maybe you resonate with this more than you would like. So, does parenting have be a war most of the time? The answer is yes and no. Yes you are in a battle, but it is not for control or to simply modify your child’s behaviour. You are in a battle to win their hearts for the Lord. While kids can have awful behaviour, naughty, sinful, outright wicked words and actions, you are not just trying to deal with that. If you simply focus on changing the behaviour, you are not dealing with the real problem and the sinfulness will resurface in other ways. Behaviour is just a symptom of something deeper, the heart. Jesus said out of the heart overflows all kinds of evil (Mark 7:20-23). So, if you work hard to get your child to stop hitting their siblings, they will find another way to hurt them. If their heart is bent, which it is, then it is bent on sin. Instead of focusing on the behaviour, what we need to do is focus on the heart, because if you win the heart then behaviour will follow. This is exactly what God does for his people. Ezekiel 36:26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. Becoming a Christian isn’t simply about changing how you act. It is about God giving you a new heart and Spirit, giving you new desires and passions for him. With this new heart we now want to live in a way that pleases God and blesses others. This is the same with our kids and why it isn’t just a battle over behaviour. We must focus on their heart. Help them to see that they are not God, that created things they love (toys, tv shows, video games, their room, friends, etc) are not God. In fact, they make terrible gods. But, we are to show them the one true God… Jesus. He is our ruler and master, the only one who can satisfy us and give us purpose, meaning, forgiveness and life. This changes the game of parenting. Now our mission is to win them for Christ, not to simply modify their behaviour. And if I can end with words of advice: let kids be kids. They are not adults, they won’t act like we do. Kids will be loud and silly, and usually at inappropriate times. Kids will be clumsy and break things. Accidents will happen. Learn the difference between your kids being naughty and your kids being kids.
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