I think somewhere along the way this whole parenting thing got really overcomplicated. I know that it is a beautiful role, a blessing from the Lord, and a serious responsibility. I do not want to deny any of that. But there is also beauty in remembering the simplicity that parenting is just living life as a unit. Your family, no matter the size or make-up, is its own community. You eat together, play together, work together, and have your own communal rhythm and way of living.
It’s life together.
And because of that, I believe and know with my whole heart that if I am seeking to understand the gospel on a deeper level as a Child of God, I will emulate the gospel in the way I interact with and relate to my children. If you are seeking to be a gospel-centered PERSON you will be a gospel-centered PARENT. As a person, we need to seek to be all that the indwelling of the Holy Spirit empowers us to be.
We need to do the same in our role as parents.
Our children learn a lot through osmosis. They see the way we live, and they learn from it. We pray that as we love the Lord, love each other, and love our neighbors, our children will see and experience Christ’s love.
Other times, we make more intentional or structured choices in our parenting. With our two-year old, we’re talking a lot about kindness. What it means to be kind and use kind words. Telling her when her words or actions were or were not very kind. We’ve chosen specifically to use this language because it is a Fruit of the Spirit.
She’s really catching on to the biblical language about kindness. I mean she’s two, so we tend to talk about being kind a lot. Sharing toys, not getting to eat chips at breakfast, or being told that you cannot watch Frozen for the third time in a day are hard things to process when you are two.
And while we want her to know she is in a safe space to be sad or disappointed when things don’t go her way, we also want her to know that how she feels doesn’t have to keep her from showing kindness. But for her to really understand that and know what kindness looks like, we have to show her. We have to use kind words, and show her what kind actions are, and we have to apologize when we are not kind. We have to say, “I’m sorry I was impatient, I’m having a hard day, but that doesn’t mean I should have been unkind to you.”
I never want to write anything that makes you (or me) feel like we aren’t getting it right or aren’t doing enough. The Lord made us all with our own stories, our own gifts, talents, interests, and abilities. We are different people, and therefore different parents. Our stories and our days shape us, and the beauty of the gospel is that it meets us no matter where we are and offers what we need. So no matter the story you have lived or the day you are having today, or will have tomorrow the gospel speaks to it.
It doesn’t tell you how many sensory boxes your toddler needs, how you should pack their lunch, or what school they should go to. I might make every decision different than you, and we can both be gospel-centered parents.
When we choose to be gospel-centric, we are choosing to look at our every moment (the hard and the happy) and ask, “How does the gospel speak to this?”
When we choose to be gospel-centric, we choose to make decisions for our kids and our family in a posture of submission to the Lord, seeking his wisdom and counsel.
When we choose to be gospel-centric, we recognize that we cannot be our childrens’ savior, but we can point them to the one who saves.
Save this next part for when you have time and want to get reflective. Since we’ve mostly talked in more generalites, I wanted to give you some questions that will help you get more specific. I hope they encourage you. Sometimes it is good to put words to the things you are already doing, to remind you of the ways that you are already gospel-centered in your parenting.
I hope that they challenge you. Sometimes, because we are human, we desire to be gospel-centric in our parenting, but find ourselves out of step. Maybe some of these questions will help us identify areas in our parenting that we need the gospel to impact and influence in deeper ways.
- How are you personally experiencing the gospel in your everyday life?
- What do you hope your kids learn about the person of Jesus through the way you live?
- What gospel truths are foundational to how you discipline your kids?
- How would you describe how you speak to your children on a regular basis? What words or phrases do you speak to them often? What tone do you use? What does the gospel say about how we should speak to our children?
- What do you hope your kids learn about the person of Jesus through what you say?
- What do you do when you have done something wrong or made a mistake? How do you model humility, forgiveness, restoration and redemption to your kids when you mess up?
- What do you do when your kids have done something wrong or made a mistake? How do you model humility, forgiveness, restoration and redemption to your kids when they mess up?
- Have you planned on sharing your testimony with your children? Do they know how you came to know the Lord? How did or would that impact you and your kids?
- What are your top three values as a family? How do your values as a family reflect the gospel to those around you?
- Who else is speaking gospel truths into your children’s lives?
- What are some intentional choices you have made in your parenting to display gospel truths to your kids?
Looking for a community or someone to grab coffee with who is in a similar life season? We’d love to connect with you and get to know you better! Below you will find a few people that can’t wait to meet you, shoot us an email so we can make a plan!
Tyler OJ Campus
Teresa Ator: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bethanie Tayler: email@example.com
Tyler UB Campus
Max Heller: firstname.lastname@example.org
Chrisleigh Heller: email@example.com
Molly Pontius: firstname.lastname@example.org
Debra Kirby: email@example.com