Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Faith-Based Parenting

As Christian parents, we are called to engage in faith-based parenting rather than fear-based parenting.
This was the message from Melanie Eddy, a Christian child and family therapist from Prospect Park, PA, at the parenting workshop she presented to moms at Media Presbyterian Church this month.

Melanie brought over ten years of professional experience as a therapist, and thirty years of personal experience as a mom, to her presentation.

In her workshop, Melanie came to us as a mom who has shared many of our same parenting struggles and fears, asking the same sorts of questions:  Am I doing the right things? Am I saying the right things? Things aren’t working out so well right now; is there a different way?

I organized my notes from Melanie’s workshop into some broad themes that will help me as I continue on my Christian parenting journey, and I'm sharing them here in the hopes that they will help you on yours.

The Importance of a Sense of Humor
We have to have a sense of humor about parenting, and even about our own mistakes.  Sometimes “getting through” requires us to learn to laugh at ourselves, and to stop turning every molehill into a mountain. 
Melanie showed us a series of humorous slides she had found on the Internet that followed the humor principle: It’s funny ‘cause it’s true!  It occurred to me that among my Pinterest boards for recipes, crafting, and holidays, I should dedicate a board entirely to “mom humor.” That would be a great resource to go to when I need a good laugh.  Seeing how many jokes are out there poking fun at the kinds of issues I face as a mom could really help me see the humorous side of parenting, and maybe even help me stop taking everything so seriously!

Being Gentle With Ourselves
We need to be gentle with ourselves as parents:

Sometimes we feel like we have to stay busy all day, and we don't permit ourselves to get the rest we need.

Sometimes we are hard on ourselves and continue to condemn ourselves for the mistakes we've made, rather than forgiving ourselves and moving forward.  Melanie pointed out that half of parenting is a big experiment, filled with trial and error.  "There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus," we are told in Romans 8:1.  Why then do we keep condemning ourselves?  The Lord's compassions are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23), so embrace your opportunity for a do-over!

Sometimes (all the time?) we compare ourselves to other moms, and dwell on all the ways we fall short.  Also, we are surrounded by images of women (Melanie cited the Victoria's Secret catalog, which comes right to many women's doorsteps) that we can never live up to or recreate.  The biggest problem with these influences and comparisons, Melanie pointed out, is that these false comparisons easily lead us astray from God's truth.  We find God's truth in the scriptures, and there we will learn how God meets our needs and validates us in ways the world never can.

Fearless Parenting and Fervent Prayer
Max Lucado writes about how fearless parenting requires fervent prayer.  Don’t ever doubt it:  there is power in a mother’s prayer!  Melanie provided us with a series of parenting prayer truths to consider:
·         I can take my parenting fears to Christ.
·         I need to bring Christ to my child; even as she is mine, she is also His.
·         This is God’s child; I am the custodian.
·         The greatest test of faith is giving my child to God.
We can’t let our fears, insecurities, worries, and anxieties keep us from praying for our children.  Lucado writes, “We can raise our kids in a greenhouse of prayer,” for prayer creates the perfect environment for our children’s growth.

Praying the Scriptures Over Our Children
A powerful approach to praying for our children is praying the scriptures over them.  

Melanie showed us a handy, portable approach to doing this: We punched a hole in a stack of index cards, then held them together with a binder ring.  On each card, we will write the name of one of our children, or our spouse, or ourselves.  Then for each name we consider: What is the prayer of my heart for this person?  

Next, we ask God’s guidance to find a related scripture, and use resources such as the topical index at the back of our Bibles or a book like God’s Promises for Every Day to find a scripture that speaks to that prayer.  We write the Bible verse underneath the name on the card.  

Finally, we list any additional prayer concerns under the verse.  The cards are now ready to carry with us so that we can pray scripture over our children, our families, our marriages, and ourselves!
Photo by Andria Kaskey
The scriptures the workshop participants found for our first cards included:
  • "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand" (Isaiah 41:10).
  • "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7).
  • "Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it" (Proverbs 22:6).

We Are Never Alone
We are never alone in our parenting, because God is with us each moment. “For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, ‘Do not fear; I will help you’” (Isaiah 41:13). 

I firmly believe that God provides us with opportunities and resources to enrich our Christian parenting, and I can identify so many times when He seemed to lead me directly to a helpful book or speaker.  But we have to avail ourselves of these opportunities.  I would encourage moms in any community who have questions, concerns, fears, and insecurities to prioritize opportunities like Melanie's workshop in their schedules.  

1 comment:

  1. Yesterday I heard the Pope read the Scripture that begins "Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, Rejoice!" He said that Paul almost says it as a command. The Pope didn't mention having a sense of humor, but I believe that having a sense of humor goes a long way in more of life's situations. The Lord gave me a little song once that said,

    Don't take yourself so seriously
    When things don't go your way.
    As an idol you have feet of clay,
    So let's have a laugh today:)

    On another point, our minister said recently, "There is grace on both sides of a decision." By that, I think he meant that God's grace still is operating no matter what choice we have made. As you say, Andria, we are never alone or abandoned.


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