By: Justin Earley
Being a “Christian” parent isn’t just about what you are doing in their lives. It is first about the work God is doing in your life. We can’t make disciples without being disciples. We can’t teach the grace of God without experiencing the grace of God.
“The greatest spiritual work happens in the normal moments of domestic life.”
This book touched on each of these topics from a Christian and scriptural perspective:
- Family Devotions
Three of those topics really stood out to me. Discipline, Marriage, and Work.
Moments of discipline are so hard because there is such a gap between what I want and what they need.
Habit 1: Establish loving authority.
Good parental authority protects them and the world from themselves. But even more, being authoritative in discipline is also about reinforcing a theological reality: a child is not autonomous. No one is. No one should be. The greatest harm any of us can do to ourselves and others is to seek a world without limits or authority.
Habit 2: Pause for a moment
Making some kind of pause a habit before discipline can allow us a chance to move from our instinctual reactions of anger or frustration to love and discipleship.
Habit 3: Pray and talk to yourself
Yes, God is discipling our children in these moments, but if we’re honest, most of it might be about how he is discipling us in those same moments.
Habit 4: Use body language and space more than words and threats
When we can put a hand on their shoulder or look at them with love and not a scowl, we should. Remember, in the end, love is far more powerful than anger.
Habit 5: Be relentless in seeking understanding
Discipline without love is punishment for an act, but discipline as discipleship is training a child to become self-reflective. A parent’s role is to try to really understand a child’s heart in these moments because watching you do that is a way for them to learn how to understand their own hearts.
Use three “whats”:
- What did you do?
- What did you think was going to happen when you did that?
- What did you want the other person to feel when you did that?
Habit 6: Think carefully about consequences
It is crucial that we learn that our sin has negative effects on ourselves and others. Actions have consequences.
Habit 7: Insist on apologies as confession
If repentance is the actual turning of our hearts from sin, think of confession as the step where we have to say our sin out loud so we realize how nasty it is, which helps make us want to turn from it. We help our children learn to repent when we make a habit of helping to lead them to confession.
Habit 8: Always end in reconciliation
No matter where we begin, we must always build towards reconciliation. “The process is not over until we hug.”
Covenant love. There are two meanings of the word love as we typically use it: the first is a feeling, the second is a covenant.
Love as a feeling: This is the meaning we use the most, though it is really just selfishness disguised as love.
Covenant love: Says, “I love you despite what it costs me.”
Habitually give the gift of time alone to your spouse.
We need time to ourselves. That is normal. That is healthy. We need to spend time away and doing what makes us ourselves.
Habitually show affection to your spouse in your home.
Your kids should see you kiss, embrace, slap a tush. They should see their parents’ affection toward each other.
The Habit of Parenting Check-Ins:
Set aside time where we ask each other:
- What are the kids going through?
- How are we responding?
- What do we feel good about?
- What do we feel guilty about?
- How can we accept God’s grace for that guilt, and how can we lean into his call for what we should do better?
Talk about work with dignity. Oh we struggle with this as Christians in the West. Work can be so good for the kingdom. There are so many lessons to be learned here, which is why we need to explain why we work.
“Why do you have to go to work today?”
I get to go to work, which I am actually really thankful for. Because God made us all to work. Some people don’t have a job they like, and some don’t have a job at all. Work is a blessing.
“What do you do at work?”
Just like God helps people, at work I get to help people by….
Just like the Bible tells us to serve other people, at work I get to serve other people by…
“Why do we have to do chores?”
Just like God organized the world and made it a good place for us to live, it’s our job to keep our house organized so it’s a good place for us to live.
In Unemployment, we might say:
God made us to work, so one of the reasons Dad is so sad right now is that I don’t have a job to go to. It’s sad like being really good at riding bikes, but not having one to enjoy it.
In Underemployment, we might say:
God made us with special talents and tells us to use them, so one of the reasons Dad is so sad right now is that my job doesn’t use my talents.
In times of Overwork, we might say:
Just like God works and then rests, one of the reasons it is so hard for Dad right now is that my job is not letting me rest, and good rest is just as important as good work.
This book challenged me on a lot of fronts. I fall short in so many areas. But starting with the model of God the father is an amazing place to start. Recommended.