What does it take to be a good parent?

Let's start with the ever-changing definition of dads 

It wasn't so long ago that a man who treated his wife and kids well and brought home a regular paycheck would be admired. If he took an interest in his children, so much the better.

Blog. Father reading to kids. 616

Back then, maybe a father read to his kids and attended his children's ball games and school programs, maybe not. If he said, "Sorry, I'm just too tired from work," his family gave him no static.  

Instead, Mom and the kids would be sympathetic. "Oh, poor Dad, you worked so hard all day. No wonder you're worn out."

From earliest times a Christian wife felt doubly blessed if her husband loved Jesus and went to church with the family.

He who fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge.  Proverbs 14:26  NIV 

Then and now

Currently, not so many people agree with that approach. Today, most moms expect (or at least, hope) Dad will be on hand for kid things. After all, didn't they agree they would be equal partners in rearing their children?

Life often blocks good intentions, leaving Mom (or Dad) to fly solo. The parent who feels stuck with filling in may say nothing, just paste on a tight smile and take over.  

Next time this couple sees each other, tension may crackle the air. One says the other has not lived up to expectations and gets a response like, "Well, what about the time you ... ?"  

Most couples who've logged a few years of marriage learn a better way and likely would say something like this:  

Give up trying to prove who's more "right." When one "wins," both of you lose.

Who comes first?

Early on, a wise older friend gave my husband and me good advice. "Don't get so much into your role as parents that you have nothing left between you once your children are wrapped up in their own lives."  

Over time we better understood the strength of that tip. As our four children discovered they "needed" this or that and pleaded their cases with us, we two each needed an ally! Our kids discovered it was pointless to try to play one parent against the other.

Standing together also reminded us we were a couple. A team. We loved our children with all our hearts, but it helped so much to know each of us marriage partners placed the other first. Being human, we slipped up occasionally, but in general we stuck to this principle except in emergencies.  

Years later our adult children one by one told us our unity and stability reassured them--even when they railed against it. Why? Because it reassured them we planned to stay married.

Your healthy marriage relationship builds lasting strength into your children.

We're all cracked pots--and it's okay 

Nobody's perfect. Years ago author Patsy Clairmont said our "cracks" allow the light of Jesus to shine through us.

So in all our dealings but especially within our marriage and family, let's cut each other some slack. Let's show grace and be quick to forgive and accept each other as yes, imperfect people. And our sons and daughters, too.

Count on it: Your love and mutual forgiveness in the nitty-gritty of daily life will benefit your kids all their lives. It's how we parents most effectively model for our children how Christians are to handle conflict and frustrations. 

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace.  Ephesians 4:2-3  NIV

Does the idea of Father's Day dredge up old hurts? 

It's a sad fact that many adults still ache to hear their father say the words, "I love you."    

For generations, men believed whatever they did to provide for their wife and children obviously demonstrated their love loud and clear. The old "Actions speak louder than words" applies here. Many men simply never learned how to express their love. How to say the words. 

Where does this leave you if you're still hurting? Good news, healing is possible, no matter how many years have elapsed--or even if you ever hear those words spoken.  

It means being willing to lay down our battered bundle of pain at the foot of the cross and leave it there. Over and over, if necessary, until finally, we can let it go. We can't heal if we insist on picking it up again.

Jesus Christ fills our empty places with his love and makes us whole.

All of life gets easier when we give up thinking what people should be

Once we leave that judgment behind we can accept each other--and ourselves--as we are.

Love enables us to forgive what's missing.  

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.  1 Peter 4:8  NIV

The Good News of the Gospel tells us we needn't generate this love on our own:

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.  1 John 4:7  ESV

God created only individuals

No specific personality makes us a "good dad" or a "good mom." Neither does one parenting style or the other. It's all about living out love, healthy love that builds strength.

Let's tune out the drone of talking heads and listen to the still, small voice living within us. Leading us. Guiding us. Enabling us.

That voice is the Holy Spirit, Jesus living within our hearts, tenderly telling us, "Love one another as I have loved you."

When that's our standard for parenting, no worries, even if money is tight and our life situations are challenging. In the minds of our children, Dad will be a "good dad" and Mom will be a "good mom," because they will remember the love that ruled our hearts and our home.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.  1 Corinthians 13:13  NIV

Whatever our situation, let's resolve to rejoice! Even if. Even when. Even though. 

Lenore


June 11, 2021

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