Saturday, September 26, 2009

God Gives Us Children to Make Us More Like Jesus

After a great afternoon of watching sword swallowing and jousting at the Maryland Renaissance Festival we went out for dessert and a parenting talk/question and answer with Bob and Julie Kauflin at CHBC. Here are some of my notes:
Introduction: The longer they parent the less confident they feel. He mentioned that when their first child (of 6) was four he was ready to write a book, but now he's less confident that he knows what is always correct. When facing difficult situations they described how they cry out to God, surround themselves with friends who can help, and try to apply the Scriptures to their circumstances. They also encouraged, "don't miss the big picture," in parenting.

Psalm 127:3: They encouraged us to see our children in all seasons as a gift from the Lord. Further, God gives us children to make us more like Jesus. This challenges the notion that parents have many times that God has given them children so that they can make the kids more like Jesus. Children are gifts. This alone heads off so many problems that parents have with their children.

Ephesians 6:4: They encouraged us that our responsibility is to bring up children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. God's goals for our children are primary in our parenting. We try, erroneously, to be the Holy Spirit and God in our children's life too often. As parents we will be tempted to provoke our children or as Colossians says "exasperate" our children. We must let God do the work in our children's lives.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9: Parenting is a constant activity. A large part of parenting is what they observe in our lives. Having a cross-centered culture in our homes is of the utmost importance. Discipline protects the kids, and it shows them what is right, but it doesn't convert them. What we are aiming for primarily is our kids' desires. They mentioned that ages 11-14 is a fundamental shaping period for their desires, and when they are between the ages of 15-18 we will know what their desires are because they will begin acting on them. The way that we live as parents is the greatest means of teaching our kids. He then said that they want their kids to leave the home knowing that, "nothing is more valuable than Jesus Christ," and that Jesus is the main theing they need when they leave the house. Lastly he mentioned that the main goal in parenting is heart change.

Then we had a number of questions and answers:
(1) Do you have any advice for approaching family worship? His response was really encouraging as he said that they've basically had the approach of starting a number of approaches and then they dropped off. He said that they tried a variety of things a number of times with many successes and many failures. He said one thing to do would be to pose the question, "What evidences of God's work have you seen in your life this week?" Making family devotions fun is huge...teach them that this is God's world, and that Christ is the most desirable thing in your life. He said to take this approach: (1) Song (2) Scripture (3) Thought

(2) How do you work on a 7-9 year-old's character and not only discipline? Bob posed the question that we should ask ourselves, "Why can't you look at your kids as a blessing like a stranger's kids?" We often look at other people's kids and think how cute they are and the parents usually respond saying, "Well, you should see them at home." How we think of the gospel as it applies to us will transform how we relate to our kids. God is not a tyrant with us, and this should change how we relate to our kids. We should work to be developing a culture of grace in our homes from ages 6-10. Then when you reach ages 11-14 you'll know if you have their hearts or not.

(3) How should you deal with a 3 1/2 year old's hating of everything? One idea was that you can give your child the illusion of choice when they really don't have one by giving options to do things that you've predetermined are okay. They encouraged to be faithful in instruction, and told how role-playing and making things into games is really important. They then gave the encouragement that when your child hates everything that it's primarily a sin issue. Don't assume it's personal, and don't assume how this will affect the child when they are 18. This will only encourage fear. They encouraged us that we have to first begin by going to God, "God please help me," and ask for wisdom.

(4) How can fathers cultivate a culture of gratitude and joy in the home? Fathers have a responsibility to set the tone at home. You don't want your kids to hear how the dad is one way outside the home and think about how much they aren't like that when they think of what he is like in the home. Ephesians 4:29 constant correction and discouraging thoughts will only corrupt our children. It's important to remind our kids that we are for them. Ask them the question regularly, "Do you know that I'm for you?" and, "Do you know that I am grateful for you?" Demonstrate these things to your children. Demonstrate a consistent confidence that God is good, and that He gave His Son for us. Don't be silently grateful, put it into words. Lectures and monologues are not effective with our kids. They said we should ask ourselves two questions to help us in parenting: (1) Would I want to be with me if I was my child? (2) Would I treat any of my friends the way I'm treating my kids?

(5) Someone asked about how their youngest is quite a bit younger than their second to youngest...they seem like they are going easier on the youngest. Their question was what's going on here, "Are we more confident in God? Are we lazier? Are we just more laid back? or is there something else going on?" They said to ask this question, "Do we have the same relationship with the youngest?" In a lot of ways the Lord sometimes will work in the youngest to mature them faster because they are consistently around more mature people. The Kauflin's changed their parenting philosophy after reading Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp, but largely they did everything the same and the Lord just worked in each of their kids' lives in different ways. They mentioned the phrase from Tripp's book that was helpful, "A well-worn path to the cross." This is what we constantly want to do with our kids. In everything point them toward the well-worn path to the cross. If we don't labor to do this and have a rule-keeping mentality with the kids it will only lead to a struggle with pride in their future.

Lastly, they encouraged us to be confident that God is always at work. This was an encouraging time. Hopefully these notes have a nugget here or there that will be helpful for you.

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