Tuesday, January 17, 2012

wise parenting

last july, after we got lovely girl and little man (our youngest two foster kiddos) i started reading thru proverbs, a book of the bible devoted to wisdom.

this september, after esther was born, i again read through the book of proverbs (not even remembering that i had done it last year. you may have already read this post, which was inspired by my reading.

in the past year and a half, i have prayed almost daily for wisdom.

clearly, God has used parenthood to make me see my great need for Him, and especially His wisdom.  and for this i am grateful.

good and wise parenting is NOT set in stone. there are many principles to follow (proverbs is a good place to start!) but the practicality of how it plays out in a parents' life is less clear.  hence, the great need for prayer.

here are a few verses about wisdom that i like that come from the bible.

"so teach us to number our days
that we may get a heart of wisdom."
[psalm 90:12]

many people float through life, never questioning what comes after.  the reality is, life on earth is like a dot on a line that expands to infinity.  our time here is short, and then there will be another life.

i want to parent with eternity in mind.  i want to number my days on earth (and number my days with my children!) and make each one count towards something significant.  the only eternally significant thing i can do as a parent is be used by God to help my children know God through Jesus' mediating sacrifice for sin, that they too might spend eternity with Him.

"the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, 
and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight."
[proverbs 9:10]

the idea of fear encompasses respect, awe, reverence, worship, trust and submission.  what we fear has a great influence on how we live.  fear of the Lord means acknowledging our sin and rebellion against Him, and humbly receiving the gift of Jesus, the only payment for that sin.  fear of the Lord means following jesus, and regularly reading His word so that we know what that looks like practically.  fear of the Lord means getting to relax in His strong arms, knowing that there we are safe.  fear of the Lord also means that He has the greatest influence in our life, and not people.

but often times we do fear people instead of God.  the bible says this:

"the fear of man brings a snare,
but whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe"
[proverbs 29:25]

if i am to be a wise parent, i need to fear the Lord, who is good, and not people or situations.  noted biblical counselor ed welch puts it this way: 
fear in the biblical sense... includes being afraid of someone, but it extends to holding someone in awe, being controlled or mastered by people, worshipping other people, or needing people... the fear of man can be summarized this way: we replace God with people.  instead of a biblically guided fear of the Lord, we fear others... when we are in our teens, it is called "peer pressure".  when we are older, it is called "people-pleasing".

to be a wise parent, i need to fear God more than anything else.  not the "experts" (truth is they all contradict one another anyways!), not my friends, not social workers, not all the well-intending advice-givers who give their multitude of opinions on how to parent (they often contradict as well).  i have often felt pressure to parent a certain way to please others, especially social workers (when we had foster kiddos), strangers at the store looking at me when kiddos are throwing tantrums, and people with strong parenting opinions.

buuut... that being said: 

a wise man is full of strength,
and a man of knowledge enhances his might,
for by wise guidance you can wage your war,
and in abundance of counselors there is victory.
proverbs 24:5

it is good to get advice from wise counselors.  God can use them to guide you well.  just keep in mind that they are not God, so their advice should be secondary to the bible, and make sure you do not fall into the temptation of pleasing them.  also, make sure you are getting advice from wise people (you respect the way they parent and see good things in their kids), and not convenient people (the people you happen to see the most or talk to the most).

i especially am tempted to think that i know it all, especially because of my proclivity to research things.  i can be tempted to think that my head knowledge is better than the years of experience that many around me have.  this is sinful, and i have often been humbled to discover that other, more experienced parents know better (who would have though? :P )

lastly, keep in mind...

"House and wealth are inherited from fathers, 
but a prudent wife is from the LORD."
[proverbs 19:14]

Lord, let this be true of me!

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