The Forgotten Truth of Christian Parenting
One early Saturday morning, I woke up and instantly headed to my coffee pot. From there, I poured a cup, sat down with my phone and grabbed a blueberry donut I had saved for this very moment. I settled into my recliner as I heard the pitter patter of little feet coming down the stairs. My youngest son, Charlie, rubbed his sleepy eyes and walked over to give me the biggest, good morning grin.
Then, the inevitable happened. His little hazel eyes instantly locked in on my donut, the last donut in the house. He didn’t say a word, his little pupils just dilated while gazing at this perfectly glazed sugary treat and then he looked at me. At this point, I glanced at him then back at my donut. Not a single word was spoken but I knew this was going to end poorly for me. I abandoned my cup of coffee to pour him a tall glass of milk and sat him at his little blue table in the living room where I sat my blueberry donut in front of him and turned on his favorite cartoon. His smile, along with the look of joy he gave me, made me forget about everything else in the world.
A Christian parent’s life is about giving. You give your time, your patience, your love, your sanity, and sometimes even your donut to your children. As a child, your job is to “take”. At one time, we were all children and had the opportunity to take from our parents the same things we now give freely. It doesn’t mean you go out of your way to spoil your children, but it means you focus on them and meet their needs by whatever means necessary. Even if that means taking from yourself to give to them. Even in nature, mother polar bears eagerly continue milking her cubs while she depletes her own fat reserves from starvation. It is the call of a Christian parent, any parent really!
God is the only Being to have never been a child; therefore, He has never taken, He only gives. Our very existence is definitive proof of His Fatherly love for us. If that wasn’t enough, He sacrificed His only Son on the cross; a part of Himself. He gave us everything and asked for nothing more than our love in return. In fact, the greatest comfort I get from God is when I take a more personal viewpoint of my heavenly Father. When I see Him as my giving parent and consider His amazing character, I can never point the finger at Him and ask why I face hardships.
That is why parenting is such an amazing journey. I get to grow closer to my Father because I finally get to see life through His eyes. I give to my children unconditionally. There is no quid pro quo, at least there shouldn’t be. I give to my children because I love them; it’s that simple and it never changes.
A newborn child knows nothing about the world except how to take what they are given. It isn’t out of greed or selfishness, but necessity. As they grow older, they learn to do things on their own, but also learn to rely on their parents to give willingly. A child shouldn’t have to ask where their next meal is or where they will sleep for the night, these are things a parent provides even at their own detriment. As you once took from your parents, you now have to give freely to your child.
We don’t question a parent’s need to provide for a child, but we seem to struggle seeing God as a giving Father. He too is our providing parent, willing to freely give us everything we need in this life and gives even more abundantly in the next. Unlike the faith we put in our own Earthly parents to give us safety, security, food, shelter and love, we question God’s willingness to do the same. Because we cannot see Him, that makes us question His dedication to our wellbeing. But why would God create you if He did not plan to provide for you? God gives freely, and as His children, we have to be willing to take from Him what He gives.
Needs vs. Wants
To that point, my children believe they need go carts, iPhones, and a small theme park in their backyard. Although they don’t understand it yet, these are not necessities, and the cost only takes away from the things they really need. When I have the opportunity, I go out of my way to spoil them with a few of these luxuries I can afford; but that is not my primary focus on raising them. When we pray to God for our lotto tickets to pay out then blame God when we do not get a single number, we are acting just like a wishful child. God sees the true necessities in our life that money cannot buy. Sometimes even a little struggle builds the person we are meant to be. We are here for a purpose; this life is not the finish line; it’s the waiting line.
The Taking Parent
Anytime we mention Christian parenting I know I want to think of the best examples, but that is not always the case. What about those who take from their children? Do not put their children’s needs above their own? Or those who seek out self-gratification over a more collective family happiness? Obviously, we could blame mental disorders and chemical imbalances, etc. but there might be more to it.
As a child, did they have a parent who gave freely when they were in this “taking” phase of their life? We must take before we can begin to give, so perhaps these parents missed this important developmental stage and are now lacking the maturity to properly give freely as a parent. Being cared for and taking from your parents is part of becoming a giver one day. There is a sense of completion going from taking to giving. God gave us the greatest example through Christ.
Life’s Purpose from Taker to Giver
God Himself is not a taker, He only gives. But all of us are like young children in the eyes of God. When the apostles walked with Christ, they received, and God gave. He taught each of them the Word and gave this knowledge freely, filling each of their cups until they overflowed. In His death and resurrection, He gave them the greatest gift of all, salvation. But now they were matured in the spiritual and were asked to go out into the world and become givers themselves.
As new Christians, you cannot be ashamed as you take from the church. Use childcare, show up to hear the Word, feel comfort in those around you. As mature Christians, we have to give selflessly. God continues to give us everything that only a Christian can truly understand, and we are tasked (not unlike the Apostles) to give freely to those younger in the faith.
The “Take” Away from this Christian Parenting Article
Your children deserve a giving parent and if you take more than you give, know that you can break the cycle and give them a better life filled with God’s peace. It only takes you, giving yourself to them. And if you are Christian who takes more than you give, don’t look down on yourself. It is the natural course of spiritual growth. The apostles were takers at one time themselves and later they spread the gospel around the globe! Take what you need from God, He gives willingly, but take with an open heart and mind. Allow God to refine you through the process of sanctification and mature you, spiritually, into a giver. I promise, you will see more joy from giving than you ever imagined possible.
When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 1 Corinthians 13:11