How does my worldview shape how I parent?
The last few weeks, we have been analyzing worldviews. We have defined a worldview as your set of assumptions which impact the way that you view the very essential questions of life. What is real, is there a God, what are humans, how do we determine right and wrong, what happens when I die, and more. Think of a worldview as the glasses that you put on which determine the way that the world looks.
Today we want to look at the question, “How does my worldview shape how I parent?” I am going to be answering this question from my own personal worldview as a follower of Jesus.
As a follower of Jesus, when I engage with my kids, I begin with some big picture beliefs. These beliefs, which are rooted in my worldview, impact the way that I attempt to interact with my children. I say ‘attempt’ because I am just as much a mess as anyone else and I often have great intentions and bad follow through. That said, these beliefs are my framework.
God is a good Father. As such, how he fathers me is the perfect framework for how I should father my own children. As a good Father, God disciplines me perfectly. Discipline is not, necessarily, punishment, but the process of formation by which God molds me into the person that he wants me to be. If I am to follow in God’s footsteps, I need to provide the same discipline for my own children. This means that I need to define the fence for them in which they are allowed to run and play, the same way that God does for me through his Word. When they step outside that fence, I should not flip out, yelling, screaming and waving my arms like a crazy man. Instead, I should remind them of the fence, why it exists, reestablish the boundary and let them try again.
This process of formation happens best through a posture of kindness. The scriptures teach that God’s kindness leads to my repentance. Repentance is a biblical word for changing your mind and, therefore, your actions. Establishing discipline for my children is loving, even if at times it feels stifling to my kids, but the discipline that I give should be saturated with kindness. My kindness and discipline will help to mold my children. This is how God has shaped me, continues to shape me, and how I should aim to father my own children.
Another core aspect of my worldview is the reality that I am born separated from God, sinful since conception, and desperately in need of rescue. Guess what? So are my kids. I should not be flabbergasted by their selfishness at the age of five. Nor should I expect them to always control their emotions when they are tired or don’t get their own way. As a 35 year old man, I have plenty of days where I throw grown up versions of temper tantrums and pity parties. In two weeks I turn 36. It’s my party, maybe I’ll cry if I want to.
If I, as a grown man, still behave like this at times, why should I be surprised when my children do the same thing? I should’t be! Instead, I should respond to them as God does to me - with loving discipline, kindness, mercy and grace.
Mercy and grace are the ultimate displays of God’s love for me. Mercy is God NOT giving me what I do deserve (e.g. punishment) and grace is God giving me what I don’t deserve. This mercy and grace was purchased not with gold or silver but with the precious blood of God’s son, Jesus Christ. God punished Jesus so that I would not have to be punished (mercy), and he gifts me forgiveness and adopts me into his family even though I have done nothing to deserve it (grace). This is accomplished not by my works, but by HIS works and what HE has done on the cross. I lay hold of it by fully trusting in what he has done. That he is who he says he is, has done what he says he has done, and will do what he says he will do.
As a recipient of such incredible mercy and remarkable grace, I strive to parent in a way that models that to my kids. Why? I want them to see and taste, in me, the grace and mercy that God offers for them. I cannot trust in the finished work of Christ on their behalf, they need to do it for themselves. I can, however, model it to them. I can tell them when I mess up and rejoice with them over the grace that I receive. I can apologize when I do something wrong and ask for their forgiveness. I can thank them for forgiving me even when I parent poorly or yell when no one deserves it. I can model to them the grace and mercy of my Father by being their father. This is how my worldview shapes the way that I parent.