Over the past several years, I have read a lot of parenting books. Some of them were decent, some of them were really fairly useless.
All of them fall short.
I remember one book specifically, that I read when I had only my first three children. It guaranteed that if you followed their directions, were 100% consistent, you would have completely obedient children. And so I tried very hard for a good long while to do just that.
But I have done a bit of changing in my mothering over the last few years. For one thing, I now have eight children, and I can tell you that they are all unique and different. One of the major downfalls of many parenting books is that they treat children as cookie cutters- that if you do such and such you will get said outcome.
Except that isn't the case at all.
I see three possibilities to any disciplining that a parent does:
1) The child is both inwardly and outwardly obedient. Success!
2) The child is completely disobedient and rebellious, inwardly and outwardly.
3) The child is outwardly compliant, but inwardly rebellious.
A lot of parenting books fail to address the children who fall into the number 3 category.
I am not saying as parents we should not aim toward outward obedience, but to neglect the heart is a grave mistake...
And the thing that I think is the single most overlooked missing ingredient in so much parenting advice? GRACE.
Sometimes we fail to remember how God parents us, how He is patient with us, merciful, how He gives us grace over and over and over. To the point that it is almost scandalous.
The disciples were confused on many occasions when Jesus failed to bring wrath and judgement, choosing instead forgiveness and grace.
I want to be like Jesus.
And I want my parenting, my mothering, even my disciplining to reflect Him.
It is not a formula, and you can not give to others what you have not received first from Him.
But this is what I will continue to strive for in raising my children. That I would allow Him to love through me.
Could we ever devise a parenting philosophy better than Jesus?