The question for me as a Christian parent is "How do I live out my parenting walk to best reflect Jesus and all that He died for?" I want to make sure that my motives are pure and that I do not violate basic Christian principles as a parent. For instance, I always knew that "Love thy neighbor as thyself" referred to how I should treat others but somehow, for a long time, I did not translate that to how I treated my family. Of course, I can not necessarily translate how I want to be treated as an adult to how I should treat my children. Rather, I think that the challenge is allowing myself to remember how I felt as a child. How vulnerable, how needy, how dependent, how sensitive and scared we may have felt as children is often too painful to remember and is blocked out by many parents.
As I was talking to another parent about how needy our kids are, I was reminded about the reality of how vulnerable kids feel. We were discussing how there are times when our kids follow us from room-to-room, they interrupt our every conversation and they suddenly need to be the center of attention when we are on the phone. As I was really about to murmur, grumble and complain about this, I found myself in the midst of a very foggy memory, a feeling memory more than a thought memory, of how awesome it felt to be the center of my mother's attention even for a short while. (I was one of eight children so that could not have been easy for my mother to arrange!)I was humbled by the intensity of the memory and I had a revelation about how valuable my time and attention are.
Many studies have shown that the main criteria of a "good parent", one who raises well-adjusted children, is sensitivity. For a parent to have a heart filled with compassion for their child, even when the child acts in ways that may not be pleasing, to be ever forgiving of all transgressions, to grieve instead of becoming angry if the child goes astray and to always discipline (the root of this word is to teach)with a gentle, loving spirit are some characteristics of a sensitive parent.
Does the above description of a good parent, taken from secular studies, sound like a Heavenly Father that you know?
Lord, help me to parent as my Heavenly Father parents me. Help me to always be patient and kind in all my interactions with my family. May all of my dealings with my children be cloaked in love and sealed with joy. May I exhibit infinite patience and forgiveness as I face all of the daily challenges of raising my children to be all that God wants them to be. Help me to be the concerned shepherd, always vigilant in loving protection, just as you, O Lord are my Good Shepherd. Open my eyes and my heart to any hurts from my own childhood, Lord, that may be affecting my ability to parent with joyful love. Allow waves of your healing Holy Spirit, my Comforter and Counselor, to be with me as I remember any pain that I experienced as a child to prevent me from passing that pain on to my children. I thank you O Lord for your faithfulness in healing me. In Jesus' Mighty Name, I pray. Amen.