My last blog post was about parenting and how we feel so inadequate and lost in how to parent our older kids. I have to add some more thoughts to this post. They are some things I have observed in our own parenting journey and thought maybe some of you could relate to this as well.
I mentioned that I have been operating in my own strength with raising our kids because it is something I have been doing for so long that I feel like I should know how to do it. I realized something else, too, that I think has made me pridefully rely on myself and my 'knowledge' way too much. This, I think, has even been a bigger hindrance to finally admitting that I don't have it all together. It's the fact that I have read at least twenty parenting books, attended parenting seminars, and took classes and bible studies specifically concerning parenting. I've stuffed my head full of every bit of knowledge I need for these years. Therefore, I have reasoned in my head, I am equipped. I am ready for anything...
There just isn't any parenting book or seminar that can specifically walk you through this phase. There just isn't. It is not as cut and dry and black and white as parenting our little ones is. It's not rules-oriented anymore. Saying 'no, because I said so' doesn't work with ten and twelve year olds. Also saying no to them out of fear of saying yes doesn't work so well either.
There are parenting books out there that try to tell you step by step how to 'do' this phase of parenting. They speak as if you do everything just like they tell you to that the result will be model kids. Unfortunately, I bought into this. I believed that I could just follow their program religiously and all would be well. Oh, that word 'religiously' just summed up what is wrong with doing that! I was doing exactly what the Pharisees did when they had their long list of rules to abide by. They got so caught up in their rules that they were completely blinded to the freedom they could have experienced in walking with Jesus.
When I tried to follow a parenting program to the nth degree, I placed that program before God. It became all about the program and not about God. It became all about 'I need to say this and do this and then I will get such and such result'. And then when I didn't get that result I analyzed how I did everything, wondering what I had done wrong since I didn't get the anticipated result. Meanwhile, I think God was waiting on the sidelines, gently knocking on the door to my brain and whispering, 'Excuse me, I created these children. Quit turning to these man-made rules and just turn to me.'
The bottom line, once again, is that it all comes down to relying on God and walking so closely to Him that His thoughts become our thoughts and His ways become ours.
It seems that, for me, parenting these older kids works better when I forget all of those parenting strategies and just:
1.) Love them and let them know it! (Love covers a multitude of sins! 1 Peter 4:8)
2.) talk to them, talk to them, and then talk about things with them again! Talk to them about how whatever they are doing/not doing does or does not line up with Scripture...always letting Scripture be the backbone of whatever we are discussing with them.
3.) Pray with them and for them
And forget the 'how' we are supposed to be doing this. When I get caught up in 'how' I am supposed to be parenting, I just don't give God free reign to work.
Love and Communicate--funny how all relationships always comes down to these two things, isn't it?
One last thing--I am going to quit calling it 'parenting'--it sounds so cold and standoffish. It really needs to be called discipling, right? It is discipling in its truest form.