Making “parenting” my focus this week means I’m either way behind, since today is Mother’s Day, or I’m way ahead since Father’s Day is more than a month away! 😉 I choose to frame this as being really organized and thinking ahead, though I never was great at that as a mom most days!
Today I want to contrast parenting vices with virtues from Scripture, looking at both ends of the parenting spectrum.
Most of us will likely fall somewhere in the middle. But it’s always good to examine ourselves using God’s word.
Click here, if you’d like to skip directly to the inventory. Be sure to answer each question based on this grid: 1 never; 2 rarely; 3 sometimes; 4 often; 5 almost always.
4 Parenting Vices to Avoid
Apparently, favoritism was a very popular parenting vice. Sadly, it was passed down through various generations in certain families.
- Abraham and Sarah favored their son Isaac over Abraham’s son, Ishmael, with wife Hagar (Genesis 21:1-21).
- Isaac and Rebekah favored differing sons—with Isaac favoring Esau and Rebekah favoring Jacob (Genesis 27:1-29).
- Jacob and Rachel favored their sons Joseph and Benjamin over the sons Jacob had with his wife Leah (Genesis 37:3ff).
Favoritism is one of those vices that can start out as a virtue because it stems from love. It goes off course when we let that love get out of balance. Then it can end up causing rivalry between siblings and drive a wedge in our marriages.
Inventory Question …
1. I treat my children fairly—not giving special privileges or more attention to one child over the other(s).
This was something of a trouble spot for me, so I’m scoring myself a 3. Even though I struggled here, I always tried to be fair. I just didn’t always see things objectively at the time.
If you struggle here, seek the help of a counselor. My husband and I went to a counselor at one point to resolve this issue. If you’re like us, it will give you the clarity and encouragement you need to make positive changes that will last far into your children’s adulthood!
Don’t forget, a lot of counselors and life coaches are available “virtually.” Check out Leslie Newman’s coaching!
This parenting vice was obvious in Isaac’s wife. She hatched a deceptive plan, where she enlisted the help of their son Jacob to trick her husband into giving Jacob the coveted birthright (Genesis 27:5-29).
Granted, her reasoning was right, since she knew God wanted Jacob to have this birthright. But the way she handled it was completely wrong.
2. It’s important to me to live honestly, so I strive to take responsibility for my sins and mistakes as soon as possible.
I’m probably a 5 here. Not because I never lie or manipulate. I occasionally do! But, once I recognize it, I always come clean, then work on changing my ways.
If you struggle here, start by asking God daily to reveal any deception in your actions. Then confess to Him what He reveals to you. In time, you’ll start feeling courageous enough to confess to others as well.
David was a great king and, for the most part, a godly man. But as a parent, and sometimes as a spouse, he left a lot to be desired. His relationship with his son Amnon is case in point.
Since David had an affair with Bathsheba, it’s likely that Amnon followed in his father’s promiscuous footsteps when Amnon raped his own sister, years later (2 Samuel 13:1-15).
3. I rely on God to help me control my appetites and passions, knowing my example hugely influences my kid’s choices.
Because I’ve struggled with attraction to others in the past, I’m, now, extra vigilant about this. So I’ll give myself a 5.
If you struggle here, find a same-gender friend who will pray for you and hold you accountable.
Lack of Discipline/Enabling
David not only enabled his son Amnon by essentially ignoring the fact that Amnon raped his sister (2 Samuel 13:21), he also enabled his son Absalom. After Absalom killed his brother Amnon, David refused to communicate with Absalom or deal with his crime (2 Samuel 13:38-14:28).
4. The discipline I use with my children is consistent and fair—never looking the other way in order to avoid conflict and difficulty.
My husband and I worked hard at being on the same page with discipline, which helped to make things consistent and, for the most part, fair. So I’ll give myself a 4 here.
If you struggle with this, maybe it’s time to sit down and map out the rules of your home with your spouse. Then pray for God to give you the strength to enforce what you’ve both decided.
4 Parenting Virtues to Pursue
Make God Your Priority
Although Abraham showed favoritism at one point with Ishmael, he would go on to show complete devotion to God during a watershed moment. He did this when he obeyed God’s command, being willing to offer his son as a sacrifice (Gen. 22:1-14).
5. I make God my highest priority, relying on Him to help me put my children in the right place and perspective in life.
This is something I always strive to do—even as an empty nester. Even though I don’t do this perfectly, I’m consistent here, so I’ll rate myself a 4.
Do you struggle here? Ask God to renew your passion and commitment to Him today!
Timothy’s mother and grandmother were great examples of this important parenting virtue. They taught him how to follow Christ, with him growing into an important pastor in the days of the early church (2 Timothy 1:5).
We should also put Deuteronomy 6:6-7 into action …
“These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
6. I consistently and intentionally teach my children God’s word, helping to strengthen their spiritual lives (Proverbs 22:6).
Based on how I raised my boys and how I’m navigating their adulthood, I’d give myself a 4, mostly for effort, not necessarily for form.
If you struggle here, read a good book like Shepherding Your Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp, then apply the principles you discover.
Introduce Your Children to Jesus
What I’m talking about here is the most important conversation(s) you’ll ever have with your child. Help them to know what it means to receive Christ’s forgiveness of their sins. When you do, it will be like the time people brought their children to Jesus for Him to touch and bless (Matthew 19:13-14).
7. I’ve had or am preparing to have this conversation with my child(ren), because I know it is the most important decision they will ever make.
My husband and I did this with each of our children. This wasn’t a one-time and done conversation, but often involved conversation after conversation. Thankfully, all three of our sons have received Christ! So I’ll rank myself a 5 here, simply because I was faithful in this task.
If you struggle here, seek the help of a children’s leader in your church. Any number of godly mentors can guide you in how to start these conversations.
Love Your Children
This is about loving our children just as much when they are difficult as when they are sweet. Thankfully we have a “roadmap” in I Corinthians 13:4-8 for how to best love our kids.
8. My love for my children is deep, strong, and consistent—showing up in both the good and bad times I experience with them.
I would give myself a 4 here, instead of a 5, because I’ve let my own selfishness and insecurity hinder these efforts on occasion.
If you struggle here, begin to pray for God to open your eyes to all the ways you can love your children better each day, based on that I Corinthians passage.
First of all, Happy Mother’s Day to all of you moms and grandmother’s out there! I hope you’re honored and celebrated by your families!
For other posts in this Insight for 2020 series, click here.
Last week I held a giveaway of my Bible study—Ephesians: Breaking Down Barriers & Living Secure. Congrats to the randomly chosen winner—Anita Ojeda! And be sure to join me next week when Maree Dee, of Embracing the Unexpected, will be my guest blogger!
Which of the four parenting vices have you struggled the most with?