First let me start with the ideal. I believe that parenting works best when both dad and mom work together in unity, and when the marriage is vital, intact and growing. As parents truly step into their God given roles based on Deut. 6:5-7, they model a Biblical relationship with each other with oneness in their influence, teaching and discipline of the children in the home. Parents are to grow their children to maturity in every area of life – physical, emotional, mental, social, and spiritual. Unfortunately, we live in a broken world and broken marriages and families are an increasing reality. The first step to being a better parent is to work on your marriage.
That being said, I have had many opportunities to interact with single parents. Most are well aware and often remark that single parenting is hard and they often feel they are at a disadvantage. If you are a single parent, remember that you are loved deeply by God. He cares about you and He extends His grace to you and your children when you commit your role as a parent to Him.
Whether parenting with a spouse or alone, all of us need God’s grace to cover our inadequacies. Parenting is never about perfection. It is a balancing act between discipline and grace. It is about trial and error and developing real, meaningful relationships with our kids. It is about modeling for our kids a real relationship with our Heavenly Father – forgiving and being forgiven, being human and real, yet pursuing holiness. All of us need to tap in daily to God’s perfect wisdom and strength as we navigate this path to raising whole, healthy, well-balanced Christ-loving disciples. But there are also a few ideals or strategies that will help us achieve this goal. Here are some that define our parenting philosophy:
- Children are a gift from the Lord, but they are ultimately His – not ours. We have been entrusted with them for a time, and we are to invest ourselves in their development with intention and purpose.
- Our personal relationship with our Heavenly Father is critical – and comes first in our lives. This pursuit of holiness and deeper relationship continually feeds our sensitivity to the Holy Spirit and to each other as we seek to make the best decisions and lead our family well.
- Our marriage is the center of our family, with the children as supporting characters. Our children do not run or control the family (i.e. they eat what the family is served; they do what is best for the family according to the standards that we as parents have set, they attend the church where we serve God and His people, etc.) We make a strong effort to not allow them to dictate to us or manipulate us to get their own way.
- We have high expectations of behavior for our children (developmentally appropriate) while at the same time; we encourage and create opportunities for them to just be creative, expressive kids who love life in a big way.
- We intentionally address heart issues with our kids as opposed to simply reacting to behaviors. We are students of each of our kids as individuals and realize that staying “in tune” with their emotional, physical, spiritual and mental development takes work and focus.
I feel like it is important for parents to be connected with strong Biblical parenting authorities. Below is a short list for your benefit:
- Tim Kimmel’s book Raising Kids for True Greatness: Redefine Success for You and Your Child.
- Dr. Gary Chapman’s 5 Love languages for Teenagers and Children
- Stephen James & David S. Thomas - Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys
- Dr. James Dobson – Focus on the Family
- John Trent - Strong Families
- Gary Smalley - Guard your Children's Hearts
- Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller – National Center for Biblical Parenting
- Rob Rienow – Visionary Parenting
Guarding Your Child's Heart by Gary Smalley from Michael Smalley on Vimeo.