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Parenting 101

Someone once quipped everyone knows exactly how to raise children except all of us that have children! It is like we needed a user manual, but the product arrived absent that manual! Mom used to say babies needed a little gauge on their tummies with an arrow that pointed to hungry, wet, tired, gassy, and just hold me because. That would have made knowing how to meet their needs much easier, wouldn't it? Now, when they turn into teenagers, the 'gauge' might need to be a little different - right? Maybe the options would be something like "Thinks he knows better than his parents", "Wants your love, but wants to look cool", or maybe even "Cannot figure this thing out and needs your help". Wouldn't it be grand if kids came with instructions and those little 'gauges' that help us figure out how to be better parents? Maybe we aren't given the 'gauge' so much, but we really are given the instructions - we just don't realize it!

Bring up a child by teaching him the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn away from it. (Proverbs 22:6)

The instructions are really as close as the Word of God. If we don't know what to do next - turn to the Word. Don't know where to begin - turn to the Word. Didn't get it right the first time - turn to the Word. Something I have learned about being a teacher - you don't always get it right the first time - sometimes there is a lot of retrying to get it right! We learn by doing - not by just possessing the knowledge. Sometimes I think we get this a little out of focus - thinking we have to know it all in order to take the first step with parenting. The truth is that we learn by doing - and sometimes even 'redoing' what we have done because we didn't do it too well the first time around. There is nothing more powerful to a parent-child relationship than for the parent to admit they didn't get things right the first time around. When the child sees the parent can make mistakes, then regroup and set things in order to do it well the next time, or at least give it a good try again, there is a connection made that allows the child to know they don't have to be perfect either!

God doesn't expect us to get things perfect each time, but when we make mistakes, he'd like us to step back, examine where we might have gone wrong, and then seek his advice on how we set out again to get things right. This is how we learn - we make mistakes - see where we made those missteps - and then set out again to do things better the next time. We may not get it perfect the second or subsequent times, but each time we set out again, we develop a little more understanding of where the failure points are and how to avoid them! This is all we can hope for in life - that we see the failure points and learn how to take steps around them instead of 'retaking' those steps.

God doesn't bring up his kids with an 'iron fist' - he allows us to make mistakes. It isn't because he doesn't love us immensely, but because he knows those mistakes can actually drive us closer to him. Many of us are like the teenager - wanting to admit we need his help, but too 'cool' to ask for it. He doesn't need a gauge to know we need that help, but he values us asking for it! Why? In the acknowledgement that we don't know what to do or how to regroup from what we have done, we are connecting with him. Isn't that what a parent really desires in relationship with their children - connection to be maintained? 

Your parenting skills aren't gonna be perfect - but guess what - - - you aren't all that perfect at being a child either! As much as we need his help to be great parents, we need just as much help being great kids who are totally and consistently connected with him! Just sayin!

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