Monday, 17 June 2013

Whose Job? And How? Part 1

I've had lots of lovely comments after my previous blog about our role as parents discipling our children. Afterwards though, I realised that it's all very well to preach away about whose job it is, but it might be helpful to provide some practical application so that we know how to do it! So, today's blog is the first part in the 'how'. And be prepared, it's not what you might expect.

Last weekend, my husband's job took him to an activity weekend with the charity 'Care for the Family' for parents and their children. On the first morning, they all went canoeing. My husband likes to think he is a bit of a pro and whilst everyone else went in canoes with four people, he persuaded the instructors that he was very competent and decided to 'go it alone'. Of course, this left him open to 'attack' and when it came (in the form of a friend pulling at ropes around his canoe)and he tried to sort it out, his canoe capsized and he fell in (much to the amusement of everyone else, I imagine). According to him, it wasn't his fault. Perhaps not, but if he hadn't been so macho and gone with others, it might never have happened!

And what is the point of this story (other than to laugh at him - which is always a good ending to a story)? The point is that when we try to 'go it alone', we fail. If we want to be the best parents we can be, we need to admit our weaknesses and ask for help. This is so very hard to do in our culture today when the competition for 'who can be the best parent' is ever knocking at our door, but if we don't let our defences down then when attack comes (in the form of a difficult day with the kids or at work, or a particular issue with our child) then we will capsize.

Who do we ask for help?

First and foremost, we need to ask our Father in heaven. As we parent our children, He Fathers us and He is the fount of all wisdom and grace when it comes to parenting. He has the best ideas and can inspire us with them. He gives us strength and energy when we feel like we have nothing left. We can be weak because He is strong. When we make mistakes we can come to Him and find His grace, and then carry on in the knowledge that He is with us. He is enough for us. As David in the bible says, He is our portion - just enough for all we need.

Secondly we need to be part of a community. We weren't made to be on our own. In the past, families lived close to one another and enjoyed the benefits of relationships with older and younger relatives. Family wasn't the two adults and two children locked away in different rooms watching different screens. It was enjoyment of one another, support from each other and time well spent together. Whilst we often no longer have that in our society, the church is the perfect 'replacement' for family. In the church we find people different to us who can offer us community. Our children may find surrogate Grandparents, Uncles, Aunties and cousins. We can find support from those who have walked our path before us. When our oldest boys were smaller, we were so very blessed to have a couple in our church who had grown up children who looked after us and supported us in our exhausted state. We will never be able to repay them for what they did for us, but they became such an important part of our family. If we never admit our weaknesses to others, they will never know our need for help.

We can't do it on our own. We need those around us and most importantly we need our Father in heaven. When we depend on Him and bring our family to Him, asking for his help and strength, we are modelling to our children their need for Him and for the community around them. We need to show them this otherwise, in their 'know-it-all' state, they will get in the canoe alone and will be in the perfect position for capsizing. Teaching them to go to God for all they need, even admitting their failures and weaknesses, is the most important lesson we can give to our children. We must model this to them, and I promise, it is the better way.

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