One of the biggest parts of my process of growing as a parent has been coming to more of an understanding about how following and imitating Christ relates to how I parent Evelyne. If Jesus is truly the most brilliant person to ever live/ an all-knowing God, wouldn’t He have a little something to say about how I make everyday decisions regarding my children? If His teachings are the truest wisdom to ever be spoken, then wouldn’t I want to integrate that into my growth as a parent?
Here are a few characteristics of Jesus and his teachings that I see as highly relative to the way I parent:
*When He gives instruction and shows by example how to treat others, that applies to how we treat our kids. The whole idea of loving one another as you love yourself… we should love our kids like that. I should ask myself if the way I’m treating Evelyne is the way I’d like to be treated if I were her. Obviously, I’m not talking preferences like would I want another cookie if I were her, I’m referring to our kindness and respect.
*When I look at the way Jesus interacted with the people in his life, His focus seems to be more on relationship and the issues of their heart than on immediate behavior modification. He doesn’t seem interested in quick fixes or outward appearances. I don’t think he was very preoccupied by what his disciples’ behavior said about him or how to keep them in line in public. He was much more focused on loving them and helping them to gradually understand his love and his mission.
*I think of when children were crowding around Jesus and the disciples pushed them away. Jesus made them let the children come to him. There was an openness and gentleness about him when it came to kids. He understood their childish impulsiveness and it was ok. He didn’t expect for them to be seen and not heard, to sit quietly at their parents’ feet and not make a peep, he loved that they were a part of what he was doing.
*Probably one of the most important qualities of Jesus that relates to our parenting is that of how sacrificial He was. Philippians 2 tells us to “look not only to your own interests, but to the interests of others” and gives us a picture of how Jesus emptied himself and became nothing in order to give us everything. Parenting is about putting your kids’ needs ahead of your own. It’s about sacrificing your desires on an hourly, minute-by-minute basis. Letting the sacrificial nature of Christ transform our own self-centeredness is one way that we can look to him in making parenting choices.
Over the past few months I’ve tried to ask myself in different situations, “What would Jesus do right now if He were Evelyne’s parent?” When she cries in the middle of the night, when she throws a tantrum, when I’m exhausted beyond belief and she’s fussing for my attention… It’s those moments when I want to give-in to my selfishness that puts my wants above her needs. Most of the time I don’t treat her the way Jesus would. But simply asking the question to myself has shown me how far I have to go in making Him my ultimate parenting model. So much out there that masquerades as Christian parenting I can’t ever imagine Jesus doing were he given the option, despite how society and church accept it as the way ya gotta do it.
I’d love to hear what anyone thinks about this, especially any more ideas of qualities of Jesus that should inform our parenting.