Parenting has become a contentious subject. In the “mommy wars,” blogs, books, and one-on-one conversations set women against each other over the best ways to raise children. Both sides are left feeling guilty and defensive. Should I go easy on my child or be a “tiger mother”? Which of the Christian parenting manuals should I follow?
The different theories tend to reduce parenting to following rules. Just as fallen human beings cannot fully satisfy God’s law, parents find they cannot fully satisfy whatever law of child raising they embrace. So much time and effort is spent micromanaging and second-guessing parenthood—our own and that of others—that we may give little thought to what God is doing in parenthood.
It’s tempting for parents to be self-conscious about how they are raising their children.
It’s easy to become self-critical, whether or not that’s justified. But isn’t it ironic that so many of us overemphasize where we could go wrong with our children while also under-emphasizing where God can go right? With the varied library of parenting material these days, we can forget a very simple fact: with or without parents, children grow up. Children raised under different parenting philosophies grow up, and most of them do fine. God is the one who ultimately grants them growth and opportunities for life. And while God has made young children dependent upon their parents, from the first month of life children are already peering away from their parents and toward the rest of the world. The doctrine of vocation allows parents to relax, somewhat, confident that God is the main actor in child raising.
Our children are in the hands of a gracious God.
So while it is good, right, and healthy for us as parents to try our best and be as prepared as possible for the sake of our children, we can give thanks every day that our children are in the hands of our gracious God. The same God who knit our children together in their mother’s womb now remains active in their lives for all their days. As Scripture says, “In [God’s] book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for [them]” (Ps. 139:16).
Content adapted from Family Vocation: God’s Calling in Marriage, Parenting, and Childhood by Gene Edward Veith Jr. and Mary J. Moerbe