Great Expectations for Your Child!

Great joy and love come from doing things God's ways. Instead of predicting failure and working for it, how about we actually decide to train up our children in God's ways and find the joy from our labor?!

Faith shapes our lives and expectations. The biggest problem that most people have, though they would not admit to it, is that they do not believe God either says anything important about parenting in the scriptures or if He does, that it does not relate to modern parenting in a complex society. Because of this, ones expectations are collected from a number of areas.

Refuse to be like my Dad who was a strict disciplinarian.

Be close and warm with my children as I read in those magazines with beautiful colored pictures.

Want to give opportunity to my children that I never had.

Very few people have actually touched the scriptures and asked God what He thought about their need for parenting. Even more rare are those who picked up a Bible and simply looked at what it might say regarding it. As the above list shows, people have more felt their priorities evolve rather than deciding what would be best. These priorities evolved from ones own experiences, good or bad. The parent normally would choose what sounds good for the child. Of course, trouble develops when the other parent had different experiences! We have discussed this elsewhere.

Let's just take these three examples and follow their results, assuming the other parent doesn't have any say about it which is rarely the case.

#1 Area of discipline

They have never asked God what He thinks about discipline. They just assume a loving God would never ask what they found out to be close to evil. If they did, they would find out that God says a lot about discipline to the degree that those whom He does not discipline are not even His.

FOR THOSE WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE DISCIPLINES, AND HE SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES." It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? (Hebrews 12:6,7, NASB).

In this case, the parent should humble her heart and ask God why is it that she should hate the discipline that she received. From their, she will begin to better understand the difference of disciplining in love or in anger or hate. She would learn that her Heavenly Father (if she is a Christian) always does the best for His children without exception. She would then need to go back and revise her thinking about not using discipline.

Instead she will probably discover bitterness toward her father that she needs to forgive. In fact, she will learn about grace by apologizing to him and asking for forgiveness for the spiteful things she did because she was bitter. Her relationship with her real father will improve and the same will be true with her Heavenly Father. In this case, this will help her to be able to respect her child's father (i.e. her husband) and try to understand his ideas!

This will of course also enable her to see that love not hate is connected with the disciplining of the child. She will learn self-control to rightly discipline her child in love. This will result in a good relationship with Mom-child, Mom-husband, Mom-God and Mom- her dad. Othewise, we will see a terrorist in the making. We will see bitterness, strife, competition, pride and spoiling of the child that will destroy her marriage, her relationship with God, keep distance from her dad and cause her child to eventually hate her instead of love her - just as she experiences with her dad.

#2 Be warm with my child.

This same Mom wants to duplicate the warm feelings that are translated into her when she opens those family magazines and sees the mother and daughter with smiles making something together. The goals are wonderful but are rarely met. Instead of just assuming by trying hard to establish some good times together this will happen (this is good to do), she should go back first to the Bible and see what God says about close and warm relationships.

This mom will run into big difficulties if she has chosen this goal because her bringing up completely lacked it. She will run into conflict of every sort. In either case, though, she should humble her heart and ask God how she can develop warm relationships with her children. She will be guided to God's Word and find some important truths that will guide her into these kind of relationships.

First of all, she will discover that just having good or exciting times together is no good. One can buy a brat all sorts of things and end up coming home more at distance than ever. No. Good relationships are built on caring for each other. It is two way. The Lord might lead her to what her relationships were like when she was growing up. She might find some were find while others were most difficult like with her parents. She just couldn't get good times with them even though she wanted to so much. She remembers crying in bed just wishing to be able to be close with her parents. She eventually gave up trying.

She will be led by the passages to be forgiving, not bitter and loving one another to straighten up different relationships that have been cold. It won't be easy, but she is learning how relationships are built more on love than events. She had been to enough great 'holidays' only to find the bitterness in everyone's hearts. She was on a path to get rid of that bitterness.

And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. And beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. (Colossians 3:12-14, NASB).

She was not not only going to seek forgiveness from others but even from her child when she had done wrong to her. The child would learn from her Mom that a humble spirit is important. She would be willing to seek forgiveness when she had done wrong too. In this way, they might have special events; they might not be able to have them, but they treasured being with each other. They learned that loving one another brings each person into relationships where humility, kind speech, tender actions and desire to please each other are predominant. And so as the child grows, she has learned her best friend is her Mom. She likes to be near her.

Just going by the leading of the magazine, we can predict that the same Mom would be event-oriented. She would be excited about creating great times but destroyed how terrible her plans would work out. She would put so much into it and yet her child just didn't seem phased. This would make her mad, demanding and even manipulating. The child would be there but would rather be anywhere else. Why? Because some basic principles of love in relationships were never worked out. God's ways always work.

#3 Area of freedom

Again, we find that the parent wants the best for the child. She experienced hardship growing up. She can remember when all her friends had a certain toy but her. Everyone laughed at her and made fun of her. She was going to make sure that this would never happen to her. Now in making this goal, she probably never consciously thought of this situation. But it happened and it impacted her thinking about what was best to do for her child.

Life is so different if she would turn to God and the scriptures. Most people wouldn't think that God speaks to such an issue, but as she reflects about her parenting goals, she spots this freedom of choice that she wants to give to her child. She suspects something could be wrong with it so she seeks God and His Word.

She finds to her astonishment that the scriptures speak so much about freedom, choice, wealth, and the problems of having wealth. She is confronted with God's word about so many things but does not know where to start. She wants to give her child all the opportunities that she never had such as toys, training, clothes and education. But one word kept coming back to her mind. This was the word 'be content.' She found two passages in the corcordance on contentment that shocked her.

Not that I speak from want; for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. (Philippians 4:11, NASB).

And if we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. (1 Timothy 6:8, NASB).

She all of a sudden stood scared at what she had already started doing to her child. She was training her child not to be content with what she had. She was training the child to covet more and more things, even the best of things. She saw that the child would never be happy with what she had, always a bit disgruntled things were not to her pleasing. She confessed her sins and asked for more understanding.

She saw from these verses that what she experienced early on in her life came from two things: discontentment and the teasing of her friends. Her discontentment was exaggerated because she let her friends get to her. The real solutions was as Paul said, be content with the basics. Be happy with what one has. Do not live for what one may gain but focus on being thankful for what one has.

How was she now going to change thing with her little child? She saw first that she needed to change. She herself was not very content. She needed to learn to be content first. As she worked on that, she saw that she really learned the value of contentment. She was truly happy - the first time in her life? Probably not, but she really felt as if it was. This little lesson made such an impact on her life that she wanted her child to treasure contentment.

How was she going to teach her? She decided that they were really going to be thankful for what they had. She also figured out that she needed to learn to share what we had so we could help others receive the basics of life. Even the thanks at meal time was greatly changed. Now she meant it and so her child would soon treasure the most basic things of life.

If she just went the way of pleasing every request of the child, the child would have become rotten to the core. The parent finally realizes at some stage that something is radically wrong and pulls back a bit. But it isn't easy. It is a contest. A fight. A war at times. Someone is always complaining.

God's life of contentment works with any salary, with the rich or the poor. It is only one, but a very valuable one, teaching of the scriptures that lead to life, joy and peace.

What Expectations do you have?

We learn from the above illustration that parents do have expectations and goals at what can and should be accomplished in their parenting. Often these goals are subconscious. We will take a look next on how to better grasp what these silent goals are that are often driving and influencing us.

But for now, can you begin to trust God's Word a bit more? Are you willing to examine all your goals, silent or given, by the scriptures? God's Word does speak to our every situation but we often don't believe it. When we can see that God is concerned with our lives, then our faith increases. We begin to expect God to get involved in our lives and the lives of our children. In fact, we wouldn't want it any other way. God's way is the absolute best that shines like day over against the night.

We need to know what God says as well as do what He says, then the blessing will come. Now let's turn to see how to discover our parenting goals.

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Biblical Foundations for Freedom

(1) We used the mother her as an example but easily could have used the father too. His ways of carrying things out would have been different, but the same issues are involved. Both fathers and mothers have the same problems.