6 Rules to Win the Parenting Game
Rule #1 Teach Your Kids Well
Do you ever feel like you spend most of your days as a parent playing referee?
Maybe you’re breaking up fights between siblings, putting a kid in time out, wondering who’s taken your car without asking again or scraping up a meltdown in aisle 3.
Parenting is hard!
A couple of weeks ago the Billups party of 6 found ourselves walking the beautiful circle of downtown Troy, Ohio.
We shopped our way around the circle until we landed at Grandpa Joe’s candy shop. Only minutes into our candy store adventure our 4-year-old Sarah spotted a Care bear that she was convinced she could not live without.
Any other parents have kids obsessed with stuffed animals?
Jon and I were clear with Sarah: $5 budget. No more, no less.
The Care bear didn’t make the cut.
Let me say that again…
THE CARE BEAR DIDN’T MAKE THE CUT.
Soon I was carrying my daughter, in full tantrum, outside to sit and to talk. When that didn’t work, I attempted to lovingly comfort her into obedience.
But that didn’t work either.
There she was.
Screaming with all her might.
On the sidewalk.
For the whole wide world to see.
It would take another 30 minutes to finally restore Sarah’s good vibes.
Parenting is hard!
It’s not just those times when we are frustrated. It’s the challenges at school, everyday worries, the wondering about their mental, physical, and emotional health.
Do they have friends?
Are they getting along with those friends?
Am I doing enough?
Am I doing too much?
How will they ever learn to…walk on their own, ride a bike, drive a car, balance a budget, or even lead a household?
Not a single kid came with an owner’s manual and sometimes we wonder, “am I screwing this kid up?”
I’m lucky to get my kids on the bus with both shoes on and lunch box in hand!
PARENT PROVS FOR PARENT PROBS
So as an antidote for our parent probs let’s talk about parent provs….that’s right, parenting from the book of Proverbs.
We are seeking wisdom from one of the wisdom literature books in the Old Testament.
The Book of Proverbs is chalk-full of principals and possibilities, simple one-liners that speak to the heart of life and faith.
But let me caution us a bit. Sometimes we read misread these principals as promises. Proverbs is just one of the wisdom books, but when paired with books like Job or Ecclesiastes we realize that obedience over time leads to probably outcomes more often than promised ones.
Don’t treat the Bible like magic.
The book of Proverbs is simply a guide for humans to live well–no matter what comes our way.
“My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity.” (Proverbs 3: 1-2 NIV).
The first 9 chapters of Proverbs reads like a father writing to his son.
It’s all about wisdom.
Wisdom is so much more than head knowledge.
Wisdom = information + experience
Peace and prosperity is the Hebrew word shalom.
Prosperity? Only if you understand prosperity to be health and wholeness—both for the individual and for the entire community.
When an entire community gets it right, our kids will be sponges, soaking in health and wholeness.
The writer of Proverbs made the connection between not only knowing what to do, but then actually doing it – and teaching our kids to do the same.
SO, rule number one for winning at the parenting game:
RULE #1: TEACH YOUR KIDS WELL.
How do we know that we are teaching our kids well?
Sometimes my kids can’t even put their shoes on the right feet!
Do you know how many cell phones my kid has dropped in the toilet!?
Teaching your kids ain’t easy, but here’s incredible news: Jesus loved our kids too!
In Matthew’s gospel the disciples were all focused on the task at hand, which was proclaiming the kingdom of God to…adults.
Kids were considered their father’s property, and with such high child mortality rates parents would keep their kids at an arm’s length to avoid the pain of losing them.
Apparently, the disciples were trying to shoo these snotty nosed kids out of the way. So, Jesus does something unusual to help his disciples understand the kingdom of God.
“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there. (Matthew 19:14-15 NIV).
Jesus loved kids in a way that his culture didn’t.
These kids are at the heart of the mission!
Jesus was way ahead of his time, bringing value to a population that didn’t have much value in the 1st century.
Jesus embraced kids, prayed for kids, blessed kids as the heart of the mission of the kingdom.
IT TAKES A TEAM
There are 52 weeks in a year. If you bring your kid to church “every” Sunday–between soccer tournaments, family vacation, and dodging COVID–your kid might be at church 40 hours a year.
Do you know how many hours you get at home every year with your kid?
The Church gets 40.
You get 3,000.
3,000 hours with those who Jesus welcomed as the heart of the kingdom.
3,000 hours to make your influence count.
Each child has roughly 936 weeks of life before they graduate high school.
Let’s visualize those weeks in marbles–
Addie, my oldest, is 16. Looking at Addie’s jar takes my breath away!
Life is SO precious. My husband Jon and I are keenly aware that we need to make every week count!
We can’t rely on Church to do the parenting for us, but what we do need is the Church’s partnership.
It takes the whole team!
At Ginghamsburg, we’ve embraced a strategy called Orange.
The light of Christ’s church (yellow) combined with the heart of your home (Red) make well discipled followers of Jesus (Orange).
We can’t do this alone and you can’t either.
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 NIV).
This is how Christianity works, from one generation to the next. We go, teach, preach, baptize, build up and do it all over again.