That was a quiz making the email rounds. Among its challenges:
Put a fish stick behind the sofa and leave it there all summer.
Jam quarters into your CD player.
Take two small goats shopping. Pay for everything they eat and damage.
If you complete the list and come out sane, congratulations—you’re ready!
As I scanned the list, one word jumped to mind:
If you need a “Ready for Parenthood” test, try my house. Check your speed as a child jumps over your 15-foot deck, grabs a rope swing and rappels to the ground. Gauge your freak-out meter when one goes face-down on a pogo stick and springs back with an upper tooth protruding through his lower lip. Try not to die as the deputy standing on your front porch tells YOUR children that stealing the remote isn’t grounds for calling 911.
Shopping with goats? Parenthood should be so easy!
Yet, despite a parent’s occasional desire to buy a solo ticket to a sun-drenched hammock in Tahiti, most agree with Dr. James Dobson: “Of all the titles I have been granted, including psychologist, author, professor, and president, the one that I cherish most is simply ‘Dad’.”1
For all its joys and blessings, though, parenting today requires the armor of God. With Christian principals under fire and the once-taboo edging into the mainstream, hiding in a cave with our babes doesn’t sound so bad.
Let’s remember, though—we aren’t Christian parents by chance; we’re a chosen minority. As Jesus said, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last.” (John 15:16, NIV)
We can do this, but we need Godly wisdom, which the Lord promises to give if we’ll ask. (James 1:5) We also need to commit our parenting to the Lord—only then can we know that we’ll do more than survive the hills and valleys of parenthood; we’ll actually succeed at it and, hopefully, with our hair intact. (Proverbs 16:3)
One way God imparts wisdom is through His word, and Ephesians 6:4 says, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” (NIV) Corresponding scripture is found in Colossians 3:21, which teaches, “Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.” (NIV)
Embitter and exasperate. There’s a couple of words any clever kid could run with.
“EAT SPINACH?! That EXASPERATES me, mom, and leaves me totally EMBITTERED!”
Nice try, kid, but those scriptures are warning us against provoking anger in our children—and it’s not talking about pubescent hormonal hissy fits. It’s referring to anger that rises from hurt and disappointment when parenting falls short. Maybe it’s a lack of values, priorities out-of-order, unrealistic expectations, too little personal involvement, no discipline or accountability, withholding affection, hurtful and humiliating criticism—whatever the parental screw-up, it can lead to children rebelling, making bad life choices and getting hit with issues that accompany low self-esteem.
The Holy Spirit convicts when our parenting is off-track. One way to avoid getting derailed is to let the word of Christ dwell richly in us. When we do, we’re able to teach with all wisdom. (Colossians 3:16, NIV)
Godly Wisdom IS the greatest gift we can offer our children. Proverbs 4 is devoted to it, calling it supreme, something that protects, exalts and honors. It shows the way to salvation, happiness, success and every other benefit we wish for our children. Like a foundation with a river, it can flow throughout every aspect of their lives, influencing how they treat others, answer to peer pressure, and behave in the classroom, on the field and at the prom.
If we need to wise up, let’s do it, and take a cue from what Moses said to the Israelites after giving them the Ten Commandments: “Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” (Deuteronomy 6: 7-9, NIV)
To give it, we must live it.
Those devilish little angels the Lord blessed us with are depending on us to show them the way.
That’s exactly what I’m going to keep doing—just as soon as I pry them apart and rescue that remote.