Am I the only mom who wonders if she’s doing it right, reads one author’s parenting method and second guesses everything she’s ever done? There are “new and better” ways right?
Yes, I have days where I feel like the older I get, the less I know about anything. But do you want me to tell you what I have learned as I’ve gotten older? Simply this:
Hang on to the timeless truths. If we will look closely at a teaching or ideology, we can see whether it follows sound doctrine, the tenets of God’s Word. Where it doesn’t, we should be wary. Where it does, we should listen.
(Disclaimer: I have gleaned many insightful and wonderful things from non-Christian sources regarding raising children. But we should be astute enough to be able to see where a teaching strays from biblical doctrine.)
Recently I ordered “The Duties of Parents” by J.C. Ryle. You should too.
It was such a clear, fresh voice in the often-cacophony of parenting advice flying around. It went back to some basics I know and gave me clarity and inspiration to essentially reboot.
I thought I’d offer a summary in series over the next few days. There’s another great book I’ll be pulling from as well. I hope it encourages you!
“Train up your children with all tenderness, affection, and patience.”
“I do not mean that you are to spoil him…” Ryle continues.
But he reminds that a child cannot be taught, cannot have truths and values imparted to him unless it is done by affection that first draws his heart to yours. You can command a child by fear and intimidation, but you will only get his outward obedience, if you get that. You will not effect genuine respect and love for you or for His Creator.
A child disciplined in love is one who grows to understand his mother despises causing him tears, and is yet willing to suffer over his grief for his own sake.
We must carefully teach them “line upon line, precept upon precept”, which requires patience and long-term vision.
Are you feeling convicted at this point because you have been angry and frustrated at your children? Because you have parented impatiently? I have too. Far more times than I can count. And I’ll tell you like I tell me: “We cannot lament the past except where it helps us to improve in the future.” Got it? Good.
When motherhood feels too hard, I try to take a deep breath and remember it is the cord of kindness, gentleness and sympathy that will most easily lead our children to follow us. We should share with them a friendship, yet remain distinguished by respect, wisdom and our place as parents.
They should know our love for them by the attention we give to their childish wonder, the time we take to teach them a lesson, or to simply be with them. We need to enjoy them. Part of our enjoyment will depend on our diligence to train them, but still they must know that our deep love for them drives everything we do.
As you’ll see in the next few parts, Ryle distinguishes between love and indulgence, and makes it clear that love demands we expect certain things.
It is possible, then, to train our children in the nurture of the Lord, requiring what He has laid out, but doing so without exasperation. That is our duty.
“Soul love is the soul of all love. To pet and pamper and indulge your child, as if this world was all he had to look to, and this life the only season for happiness–to do this is not true love, but cruelty. It is treating him like some beast of the earth, which has but on world to look to, and nothing after death. It is hiding from him that grand truth, which he ought to be made to learn from his very infancy,–that the chief end of his life is the salvation of his soul and to glorify God by enjoying Him forever.” J.C. Ryle