30 Days of Thankfulness~Day 21~Fruit!
I am thankful for fruit!
~By Their Fruit They Will Be Known~
Love ~ Many parents say they make their parenting choices out of love, and I believe that is so very true, but if God is love as He says He is (and He is!), then our love needs to reflect His in every way, including in our parenting. And how does God show His love? Sacrificially, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16). Modeling God’s sacrificial love in our parenting is reflected by making parenting choices based on our children’s needs, not our convenience. Responsive parenting is truly a picture of God’s sacrificial, unconditional love in that, as we respond to our children where they are, (“This is how God showed His great love for us, that Christ died for us while we were still sinners [emphasis added]” Romans 5:8) comforting their cries, guiding their choices, providing for their needs, encouraging their individuality, we are, moment by moment, day by day, sacrificing our lives for them.
Joy ~ Parenting can be a challenge (Ask God. He’s got a lot of children, and they don’t behave all that well!) but taking joy in the journey and in our children makes all the difference. “At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, ‘I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.’” (Luke 10:21) Take time out each day to enjoy your children, or, better yet, to tell them what joy they bring to your life and specifically what unique things you enjoy about them!
Peace ~ It’s so, so hard making parenting choices, knowing our actions (or inactions!) will have an incredibly profound effect on a precious little life. God knows and sees and cares about every detail of our lives and our children’s lives. And, in the same way that we want our little ones to trust us with their needs and concerns and desires, God wants us to trust Him and to have peace in Him. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which passes understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
Patience ~ “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Ephesians 4:2) Children come into our lives as small bundles with big needs who don’t speak or understand our language and then proceed to grow into little people with their own temperaments, plans, and desires. Having patience as a parent should qualify as an extreme sport! But having and modeling patience with our children not only helps us to guide and grow them gently, but also encourages them to exercise patience with themselves and others throughout life…a rare, but lovely gift we can give the world through our children.
Kindness ~ My grandmother’s favorite verse was “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” (1Corinthians 13:4-5) This is a beautiful example of how the Bible encourages us to treat others…including our children! Taking time out on occasion to examine our parenting practices and evaluate them in terms of how loving and patient and kind we are to our little ones is a vital part of effective parenting. It’s also important to make sure we aren’t parenting ‘for the neighbors,’ in other words, we aren’t making parenting choices based on a ‘who has the best kid’ competition (envy, boastful) or out of embarrassment over our children’s behavior (pride). Are we easily angered by our children? Do we dredge up their mistakes time and time again? If so, consciously working to break those bad habits and replace them with love and patience and kindness will have a dramatically positive impact on our parenting.
Goodness ~ “Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.” (Mark 4:8) Of all things, shouldn’t our very first desire in parenting our children be to till the soil of their little hearts so tenderly, so carefully, so intentionally that their hearts are “good soil,” ready, eager, and willing to receive the Good News of Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection for their sins? Instead of focusing on punishing our children’s mistakes, their ‘sins,’ thus negating the Gospel and undermining the very purpose for Jesus’ suffering, shouldn’t we model the grace and mercy and forgiveness we ourselves have been given? So what, exactly, is “good soil”? Agriculturally speaking, which is what the parable Jesus told was based on, “good soil” is well-drained (not bogged down by over-watering, i.e. over-indulgent parenting), fresh (not over-used or over-worked, i.e. over-bearing parenting), fertilized (filled with good nutrients, i.e. needs met), composted (mixed with rubbish, i.e. sinful!), and enriched (earthy minerals intact, i.e. connected to their source~their parents).
Faithfulness ~ “The living, the living—they praise you, as I am doing today; parents tell their children about your faithfulness.” (Isaiah 38:19) God is faithful in His promises, faithful in His love, faithful in His parenting. In all things we need to reflect His character to our children so that when we tell them about ‘His faithfulness’ it isn’t only in words, but also in deeds. And what is faithfulness, exactly? It is defined as constancy, dependability, care, trustworthiness, devotion, honor, attachment, commitment. So let us parents, as reflections of God, be faithful to exhibit constancy, dependability, care, trustworthiness, devotion, honor, attachment, and commitment in our parenting choices!
Gentleness ~ “Let your gentleness be evident to all”…except your children. No, of course the Bible doesn’t say that! God actually instructs us to “Let your gentleness be evident to ALL (emphasis added)” in Philippians 4:5. Tender, compassionate, merciful, warmhearted, sensitive, approachable, good-humored…these are all synonyms for gentleness, and gentle parenting reflects all of these qualities. Let’s take a look at the antonyms (opposites) of the word gentle in the thesaurus~harsh, tough, violent, sharp, rigid, severe, unrelenting, unforgiving, punitive, unpleasant, pitiless, stern. “Let your gentleness be evident to all” including (especially!) our littlest, most defenseless, and truly precious gifts from God~our children!
Self-control ~ “Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.” (Proverbs 25:28) City walls being broken through was a tragedy of great proportions in the Bible, whereas a city gladly throwing open its gates to welcome its King was a time of rejoicing. The ‘city walls’ were used metaphorically in the Bible to refer to a person’s will. Many times the words ‘break a child’s will’ are thrown around and spoken as if directly from the mouth of God. But God, as our heavenly Parent, doesn’t seek to break our wills. Instead, He teaches us to trust Him by His own love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and by His self-control in not stomping us out of existence as we deserve by our sinfulness. And, after building that trust-relationship with us, He gently calls us to joyfully and voluntarily lay down our wills out of trust and gratitude and to open our hearts and minds and lives to Him, welcoming in our King. This is the heart of trust-based obedience!
Award-winnning author, L.R.Knost, is the founder and director of the children's rights advocacy and family consulting group, Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources, and Editor-in-Chief of Holistic Parenting Magazine. Books by L.R.Knost include Whispers Through Time: Communication Through the Ages and Stages of Childhood ; Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages ; The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline ; and Jesus, the Gentle Parent: Gentle Christian Parenting the first four books in the Little Hearts Handbook gentle parenting series, and children’s picture books Petey’s Listening Ears and the soon-to-be-released Grumpykins series.