I enjoy putting things into neat categories and boxes in my mind, making crisp and clear the chaos that comes with so much of life. I do this with people, with circumstances, with anything that I can. I have not found this a helpful method or possibility in parenting. Children, ever changing and growing, do not fit well into boxes – not even the large moving boxes I just carefully stored away.
I have a friend that says her fourth child was created by God to keep her humble, that no matter her parenting skill, this child is just a bit… hell bent! And aren’t we all? Just sinful creatures who, by God’s providential grace, have been snatched from the fire?
Of the six children in my household, there have been several who would have fit neatly in a category and made parenting easy. I could have written a book on parenting from these children. There have also been several other children of mine who have caused me to toss out all of my parenting books, rules and methods. Children who have shaken me to the core of who I am, turned up ugliness and sin in my own heart, children who have caused me to cling to my God in desperation.
The other day I was telling a friend about how I was stuck in a place as a parent that I didn’t like. I imagined that she must think – you are the parent, just lay down the law! I don’t know what she thought, but it didn’t matter much to me. I have a call and a responsibility to this child, my child, on loan to me by God. It has been my job and mission to know THIS child for who God has created them to be and to understand that sanctification is a process and to guide this child in the place they are in right now.
I don’t know if other people live this way, but there were conversations between my husband and I, prayers said, and even a bit of fear at what this move to a new city and a new house could mean to the mental stability of certain of our children. There was the very real possibility that it could send them into a spiral of depression, tics, OCD, regression, anger, etc. These are the realities we live with, realities that requires us to parent these children carefully and before the Lord, ever flexible, ever seeking, ever learning, ever apologizing, trying again, forgiving, changing, lifting up, leaving alone, drawing close – parenting doesn’t fit into any simple formula or box that I can come up with.
So, you won’t hear me preaching a specific parenting method or style. There are many things that work for many children and some things that do not work for some children. I have found that God has been so faithful and gentle with me to care for me as a loving Father in an individual and specific way. He draws each of His children to Himself by unique and personal means which is why there is no magic gospel formula. We preach Jesus and God works individually in the individual to bring about the work He desires.
I pray that I might live in an understanding way with the smaller creatures in my household (ok, maybe only the smaller humans because I don’t intend to be understanding to mice or insects!). May I be a life giver in my words and care. May I act as my heavenly Father does, giving mercy and grace and discipline as each are needed. May I ever be seeking Him for the wisdom to know what is right and good at each moment.