No. 23: Why We Don’t Want to Raise Good Kids

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In this episode we’re talking about Biblical Parenting! We’ll answer questions about:

  • What is the goal of biblical parenting?
  • Can I guarantee that my children will be believers?
  • How can I disciple my children?
  • Can I be friends with my kids?

Before we dive in, we want to give a little caveat. We’re only 3 years into parenting, so we’re humbly recognizing our limitations in perspective, experience, and wisdom in parenting. But we’re able to look to Scripture for wisdom, so the Bible is what we’re relying on here.

The Goal of Parenting

The goal of parenting is to raise godly children, not good children. Obviously, we can’t guarantee our children’s salvation- our role is to lead them to the gospel. We can’t force them to be saved and be transformed by the gospel. We can do everything in our power to preach the gospel and live it out in front of them.

Children are prime opportunities for disciplemaking- they live with you! Discipleship isn’t just a once-a-week Bible study. It’s about doing life together and learning and growing together. Think about the disciples- they lived, traveled, and ate with Jesus. The most natural, built-in way of discipleship that we have in our modern culture is parenting.

Training Your Children

Proverbs 22:6 is one of the go-to Bible verses on parenting. Proverbs are meant to be read as general wisdom, not promises for how life will go. For example, John Piper is a godly man and pastor, but one of his children is not a believer. It can be really easy to think that we have failed as parents if our children do not become believers. But ultimately, we need to be preaching the Gospel with our words and displaying it with our lives in front of our children.

This verse should cause parents to reflect. What are we training our children in? Are we training them to be good at sports, to be polite, or to have as much fun as they can? To be smart, be goal driven? These are good things, but they aren’t primary things.

What is the way that children should go? In John 14:6, Jesus tells us that He is “the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Two good questions to ask yourself about your parenting are:

  • What is actively being spoken about in our home?
  • What is being demonstrated through our actions?

Your attitude in parenting, especially with young kids, should be to empower your kids to develop new skills and understanding, not keep them distracted. When they’re younger, it can be really easy to just try and distract little ones and get a break. But as parents, we can choose to use our time to plant seeds and help our children learn and grow even when they are young. This attitude shift fights against the cultural idea that children are a burden that need to be distracted, sent away, or kept busy.

Passive and Active Teaching

We are always passively and actively teaching/discipling our kids. Active discipleship is sitting down and doing a Bible study, intentional conversations, etc… But we are also constantly discipling our children passively. This is more bout how you live your life. How do you respond in situations like when you get stuck in traffic, when a call doesn’t go your way in a sports game, etc… A simple example of this is when you say please and thank you habitually, your kids are able to see that you are practicing what you are asking of them.

Kids care more about what you do than what you say. Your actions demonstrate what you truly believe. Nathaniel had a mentor who used to say this statement: “Stated Belief + Actual Practice = Actual Belief.” For example, if you say that you value being polite, but your actual practice is to be rude and not say please and thank you, then you are showing that you don’t actually value politeness. If you are giving your kids the best instruction, but not living it out yourself, why would your kids listen to you?

“Parents, not friends”

It’s common for parents to tell their children that “we are your parents, not your friends.” To be honest, we can understand this mentality. But we aren’t convinced that at the root of it, this statement is fruitful or helpful for parenting.

It is true that parents are not meant to be solely friends of their children. Children are commanded to honor their parents. The parental role is unique- friends, spouses, church members, siblings, etc… do not have the same dynamic that parents and children are commanded to have. There are distinctions between parental roles and friendships. Parents are called to discipline their children and they should not blindly affirm their children in everything.

Parenting and Friendship

However, the mentality of this statement is off- there is a place for friendship in parenting. The role of parents isn’t just to discipline and teach and demand obedience. It also includes lovingly nurturing and supporting your children.

“We are your parents and not your friends” sounds very authoritarian. Ultimately the goal of the parenting process is to transition from an authority figure when they are young to a trusted mentor as they get older and leave the house. Parents should desire to be like an older, more mature friend that their kids desire to go to with problems once they are out of the house. That friendship won’t just happen once your children turn 18- it has to be cultivated over the course of their lives.

We should desire to be both parents AND friends. Look at what the Bible has to say about friendship… Proverbs 27:17 says that “iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” Friends are supposed to sharpen one another, just as parents are. Matthew 18:15-20 discusses what to do if a friend sins against you. True friends are willing to call out one another on sin, just as parents should call out the sin of their children. Culture has defined friendship as acceptance no matter what, but biblical friends are loving and supportive, but also willing to call out sin.

Apologizing to Children

One way to evaluate if you are cultivating friendship with your children is to ask if you have ever apologized to your children. If we are supposed to be actively and passively demonstrating the gospel, part of that includes confessing sins and asking for forgiveness. This includes our children! This is so countercultural, even in Christian spheres. We’ve had to sit down with our two-year-old before and apologize for ways that we have sinned. This is part of creating a safe culture of confessing, apologizing and asking for forgiveness, and forgiving.

One Degree Shift

Apologize to your kids when you make a mistake this week (because you will since you are a human)

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