I wish Jesus would have gotten married and had kids.
You have no idea how many times that thought has run through my head. As the mother of a preschooler, I find myself perpetually thinking and re-thinking my son’s needs for achievement, boundaries, acknowledgement, guidance, and unconditional love. I read, talk, pray… look for answers anywhere I can find them.
I reject corporal punishment for many reasons. Here are a couple biggies:
1. I don’t trust myself to keep my emotions stable while doling out a spanking/hand slap, etc. In fact, sadly, I’ve proven to myself that I’m not able to… at least right now.
2. Can you imagine what would happen if I used my feet to spank out in public? Goodbye motherhood.
So that leaves me in uncharted waters, as spankings are what I’m familiar with. I can’t trust what feels natural, because what feels natural for me is at odds with what feels right. And finding what’s right for our family is my all-consuming goal.
So I say, “God, how do I do this? What do we need?” Do we need time-outs? Do we need “positive parenting”? Empathy or unwavering rules? I’m searching for the perfect formula, but how often does life make it that easy?
I get frustrated that I can’t flip open to the New Testament and see concrete examples of good parenting techniques. I can’t reference Jesus’ response to a child who hits or mouths off. How cruel for the Bible to be so quiet on such an important topic! Yes, there are verses here and there about the importance of discipline, not frustrating our children, etc., but I never could see those guides played out in an actual parent-child relationship. Heck, the “rod” we are cautioned from sparing could represent many things, from physical beating to nudging guidance.
So there I am, locked in a battle of the wills with my screeching four-year-old. Again. Too often, I hear my voice raise and feel my heart racing. Like an out of body experience, I hear myself and am horrified at my angry words and lack of self-control. When the conflict passes, my anger implodes back on myself. And it’s my turn to cry tears of frustration and confusion. There has to be a better way. GOD, WHY ARE YOU SO QUIET?!
But, what if He’s not?
What if the whole Bible, the story of God’s relationship with His children, is His message to us about good parenting? What if His guidance in my life is the template I should follow? This must be the answer. But what does that look like?
How does God respond when I throw fits and rebel? What does God do when I choose to stray from His will? Here and now, in this lifetime, how does He choose to guide me?
If I honestly answer that question, I admit it frightens me a little to consider emulating His parenting style.
If I throw a fit, He is there. He may be silent, but He doesn’t leave me. He doesn’t force me to do His will, but neither does He hold back the natural consequences of my decisions. At least, not all the time. He is just, but reserves the right to choose mercy over justice. He does not “rub my nose in it.” His wisdom is not screamed in my face, but whispered in my ear — He is always the still, small voice. He is not in the fire. Or the earthquake. Or the tornado.
He is the whisper.
I will probably forever be trying to decipher how to parent like God, but I feel I’m onto something, here.
Does God’s approach to parenting produce perfectly-behaved, always-compliant children? Definitely not. So am I bold enough to believe in love’s ability to guide and form us? Can I entrust my children to that same love? God, I believe. Help my unbelief.