CBN.com Humorous and genuinely passionate about God and His Word, Bible teacher Beth Moore has much to say on the subject of parenting. She writes about her family in her book Feathers from My Nest and recently shared with Terry Meeuwsen her thoughts on the role parents should play in the lives of their children. Beth shares the honesty, humility, fear of the Lord, and the love that parents should model for their children in order to keep them on the path of life.
Here is Beth in her own words:
I believe that children are, by nature, very forgiving. I don't think children expect their parents to be perfect. I think they demand that their parents be real.
One of the things that God taught Keith and me early on, and I have to give him credit, because this where credit is due, Keith was one of those people who was not raised in the same part of the body of Christ that I was. What I thought as a young adult is you act like you have it together whether or not you do because that is what church people do. That is not what God has called us to do. He really does want to heal our hearts and bring us some wholeness from the inside out that is real and genuine. Keith wasn't raised like that at all, so he considered it his calling to call out anything in me that did not appear to be genuine, any way that I did not appear to be following through with what I said I believed. I can remember one time saying to him, "You don't do it either." And he said back to me, "I don't say I do." This was back in our mid-20s, and he just got me over and over again. What he was insisting upon was, "This is what you say you're all about. I want it to be real to the bone. If you're going to say it, it ought to be true in this house." And it would be...50-60 percent of the time! So it became such an important thing. He really taught me how to live out the real thing, that if I was hurting, to say so. If I was having a bad day, say I was having a bad day.
The same thing was true in our parenting. I can remember one time saying to my oldest daughter, and she was probably about 7 years old at the time, "Listen, I want to tell you something. I've just had my prayer time, and God told me I better come and apologize to you." She looked at me. I'll never forget the grin on her face. She says, "You got in trouble?" She loved it! She just loved it because she had been in trouble with me and she loved that I got in trouble with God. I said, "Yes, I did get in trouble. I need to come and ask your forgiveness because even though what I had to correct you about you needed to be corrected about, still Mommy was too fussy about it." Those were ways that God taught us, "Be real with them."
There is a Scripture that I think about so often in parenting, and it's what I have tried to base my parenting on. It's a Scripture in Deuteronomy 6 that many people are familiar with where it goes, "Impress these truths on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home, when you walk along the road, when you lie down, when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on their foreheads. Put them on doorframes of your houses and your gates." Instead of saying to do it literally, it's saying, "Live the thing in everything you do. Every way you walk it out, I am a part of your life. In everything you do, talk about Me, talk about My truths, see how it works in the real life."
But it begins by saying this: before it gets into how we're supposed to impress these things on our children, it says, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength." This is what God began to teach me, to love Him with everything I've got. Then it will be the most natural thing in the world that He works into every conversation. I don't mean being legalistic about that. I mean, as it comes up.
Don't Be Legalistic
I can remember when we'd drive to my mother's house when the girls were little, and we would drive through the country to get there, and even seeing a calf out in the middle of the pasture with its mother, to be able to talk about what God has done and how it shows His glory, to be able to talk about all sorts of things, to sing songs with them in the car, to make it a part of living. But I'm going to tell you something: without the love, it's just the law. I think that sometimes mothers that mean well, we go to church, we learn God's truth, and we are going to teach those truths to our children if it kills us! We're just going to beat them over the head with it, and they don't see the love and they don't see the joy.
I remember once being in a situation where it was a group of moms sitting around talking about our children, which is what we do, and she was just talking about how it was going to be. She said, "My children don't get to do this, and they don't get to do this, and I'm not about to let them do this." It just overwhelmed me to lean across and go, "What do you let them do?"
If we characterize our Christianity by what we can't do, rather than what we can, the only reason God would ever say "I want you to turn from that, I want that out of your life" is to make room for the blessing He wants to pour out on our lives where He gives us satisfaction and true meaning, true purpose in life. If we're just going to teach a 'thou shalt not' mentality to our children instead of "the reason why we don't do this is because God wants us free to do this, because He wants to bless us in this particular way and He wants your life to be fruitful and it's to the Father's glory that your life bear forth much fruit," this whole idea of "I'm going to beat the law into my children," it doesn't work. They get to be 18 years old, they leave home, and they don't darken the church again.
Love Covers Mistakes
Even if we got some of it wrong, even if it was awkward, even if we made a lot of mistakes, there's a lot of forgiveness. If it was real, if they can say, "My parents loved God; they didn't always get it right, but I'm going to tell you, they loved Him; they had the joy of the Lord in their hearts," that works. That is good parenting.
We don't always know what to do in all these circumstances, but I'll tell you what. If we have a love for God that shows, and it is genuine, they even know we're correcting them with a tear rolling down our cheek that says, "Child, don't you understand? I am for you, not against you. God wants to bless your life, not just take from you." When they see that authenticity, they buy it.
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