By Amanda Idleman, Crosswalk.com
As parents, it’s easy to think that the work of raising strong and kind people rests entirely on our own shoulders.
I’ve got great and totally liberating news, you don’t have to be a perfect parent! And honestly, despite our best efforts, we just can’t be perfect parents. We are fallen beings and the reality of this life is we fail.
The amazing grace that comes with knowing Jesus lies in the fact that our failures aren’t the end of the story! God steps into the spaces that we are not enough and can rewrite our messes for his glory. He can even use our failures as opportunities to grow and teach our kids. We can rest easy as parents in the knowledge that He ultimately is responsible for the lives and futures of our children.
Grace isn’t a free pass to neglect our duties as parents but it’s an invitation to let go of guilt and shame that haunts us when we fall short of perfect.
God’s got this, even when we don’t. He loves your kids more than you ever could. They are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14), so it’s okay to hand that load of getting it all right on over to the Lord. It’s not yours to carry anyways.
What does surrender to God mean for your parenting?
It means inviting God into your parenting so you can walk in a whole new level of FREEDOM as a parent. It means not having to second guess your every move or worry about every next step all because you know there is abundant grace available for the cracks of your life.
Here are 6 of the burdens you can set down and let God step in on your behalf.
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1. You Are FREE to Mess Up Sometimes
Romans 3:23 gives us all some slightly depressing news. We all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God but thankfully that is not the end of the story. Romans 4 goes on to explain that when we believe our faith credit is credited as righteousness. My first take away from this passage is that we shouldn’t be surprised when we mess up. God isn’t surprised; why then are we constantly shocked at our own failures?
Let go of your striving for parental perfection. It’s a myth. Embrace the idea that you are FREE to not be perfect and God still counts you as a righteous one. That means he still uses your life every moment for his glory. If you are a parent, that means God is there when you lose your temper and He also offers grace for forgiveness and reconciliation too!
Let go of all of that paralyzing self-doubt and unnecessary guilt for your missteps. Rather surrender them over to the Lord. He promises that when we bring our stuff to Him, He is faithful to forgive (1 John 1:9) and he even works all that stuff out for our good because He loves us (Romans 8:28).
Grace can be hard to accept. We often believe we either “got it” all worked out on our own and don’t need God’s grace to survive or we are too racked with guilt over our failures to accept what God wants to give us. Neither of these stances are what God wants for us.
He wants us to accept His undeserved forgiveness with humility on a daily basis. We need Him to be the parents God wants us to be. Accepting God’s grace is an essential part of godly parenting.
2. You Are FREE to Apologize
Some of us grew up with parents who were of the mindset that parents never say sorry. Back in the day when authoritative parenting was prevalent, admitting your faults was a sign of weakness.
Thankfully, it’s a new day for parents and the rules have changed. We can model grace and forgiveness for our families when we are humble enough to admit when we are wrong and ask for their forgiveness.
The best thing about God and kids is that they both are EAGER to forgive you.
There have been moments where I thought my kids may never want to see me again because I was just that awful to them and then I paused to say sorry. To my surprise, they readily told me I’m loved and forgiven! Their open hearts amaze me!
Kids paint such a great picture of how God approaches us. He isn’t waiting to hold a grudge but is there for us with open arms ready to forgive us and say I love you. Don’t get bogged down by your mistakes. Acknowledge them, apologize, and try to correct your actions next time
Modeling what it looks like to say sorry is huge for your kids. How many times a day do you have to facilitate reconciliation between your kiddos? At our house, my kids are prompted to apologize several times an hour! If our kids never see us say sorry then they are going to be clueless as to why we are forcing them to apologize when they make mistakes.
The values we want our kids to hold onto are mostly caught more than taught. Don’t underestimate the power of being willing to just simply say sorry when you need to on your home.
They will remember your humility much more than those awkward forced sibling moments of reconciliation.
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3. You Are FREE to Get Embarrassing Advice
Have you ever been grocery shopping and a well-meaning adult come by and correct your overly rambunctious child who is climbing to the top of the tower of packaged water bottles? It happens to me too!
If I’m honest, these moments can leave me red-cheeked with embarrassment and angry at my kids for being too wild. My response is one of pride and the result of my misplaced investment in the idea that I am 100% responsible for the choices that my kids make.
The point is that sometimes our kids mess up and it doesn’t mean we are a failure as parents. We don’t have to take those moments when someone gives us some unwanted parenting advice or corrects our children for us so personally. It’s important that we understand that our kids are more than our own.
Your kids came with God-given personalities and ultimately God is guiding their hearts and steps. His word promises a future and a hope for them (Jeremiah 29:11).
Your job as a parent is that of a shepherd leading them to the truth, not to create perfect tiny humans.
So next time your well-meaning great Aunt decides to tell you all the ways you could parent better just smile, nod, and remember that God is ultimately in control of this parenting journey you are on, not you! You can be liberated from potential embarrassment by trusting God is ultimately in charge of helping write the story of your kids' lives.
Momentary setbacks, mistakes, or failures aren’t the whole picture. You can rest in the knowledge that God is the leader of your home.
He will guide you and them on the way. There is no such thing as too big of an issue for God. He is in the business of doing the miraculous. He will take care of you even if you find yourself stuck in an impossible-seeming parenting circumstance.
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4. You Are FREE to Let Your Kids Work Through Hard Things
Modern parents have become a little obsessed with removing every roadblock for our kiddos. They even came up for a term for this kind of parenting: “snowplow parenting” is when we push every obstacle out of the way of our kids.
Not only is this exhausting for Mom and Dad, it prevents our kids from properly growing and learning.
God uses experiences and circumstances in our lives to mold and shape us. As adults, we understand that sometimes we go through things so God grows up our faith and character (1 Peter 1:7). This is also true for our kids!
This doesn’t mean we have to sit back and say yes to everything or never step in to help our children, we must have discernment as parents. It does mean that we should not be afraid when our kids have to work through learning how to navigate a new experience independently.
If you're not sure how to start, my advice is to start at home. Identify tasks they are capable of doing but you have not yet taught them to do.
Some ideas include: helping with dishes, putting away laundry, making their beds, wiping down bathrooms, mopping, making lunches, taking care of pets, or anything else that grows independence and is helpful to you.
If this is new to you and them, expect some tears at first. I promise the tears will pass and they will grow confident in their ability to be helpful. Our kids rise to the expectations that we set for them. Over time these skills can translate to other spaces. This confidence will help them stand tall when they need to be a leader in their classrooms, teams, or with their peers.
Realizing they are responsible for their own actions and care is a spiritual lesson. If we have no sense of personal responsibility how then will they see the need for a personal Savior? When we solve every problem for our kids, we are also removing potential moments for God to show up in their lives.
Struggles, failures, and new responsibilities are places where they can learn to lean on God as their helper in new ways.
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5. You Are FREE from Fear
When we realize God is on your family's side, you can let go of the fear and anxiety that plagues us as parents. Isaiah 26:3 says God will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are stayed on Him. We can rest in His peace when we acknowledge God’s role in our lives as our helper, guide, and ultimately the one who holds our lives together.
We no longer have to worry about every detail of our kids' lives. We pray, listen to God’s Spirit leading, and trust Him with the rest. This is not easy, I know first hand how powerful fear can be when it comes to our kids. Trusting God with our precious children’s future is one of the hardest things for us to do, as control obsessed parents.
Living in fear is no way to live at all. Fear’s chief lie is that our obsession over the possible negative outcomes can somehow protect us from them. The truth is when bad things happen, they almost never happen in the ways we expect or don’t happen at all.
Our worry can’t stop us from experiencing difficulties. Worry itself is a burden.
One great tip for living without fear and with God in control of our homes is to turn our fears into prayers. Sometimes we can’t stop our minds from wandering to dark places but when those thoughts come in, turn them over to the Lord in prayer. Use scripture to combat the dark thoughts that want to invade your mind.
Praying words from the Bible over your children is a powerful way to transform your perspective from a fear-filled one to a faith-filled one.
Deuteronomy 31:6 is a beautiful encouragement for us as we navigate our parenting journey. It reminds us that God will never leave or forsake us so we can live our lives without fear!
Surrender your children to the Lord so you and your home can be FREE to learn and grow together about the Lord. He’s got your family in his hands, so you can rest easy as a parent.
Amanda Idleman is a writer whose passion is to encourage others to live joyfully. She writes devotions for the Daily Bible Devotions App, she has work published with Her View from Home, also for the MOPS Blog, she is contributing to a couples devotional for Crosswalk, and is a regular contributor for Crosswalk.com. You can find out more about Amanda at rvahouseofjoy.com or follow her on Instagram at rvahouseofjoy.
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