Inside: 5 God-inspired rules to live by while learning how to be a better parent
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Parenting doesn’t come with a rule book. Some days, I wish it did. And yet, I know that no parent-child relationship is one-size-fits-all. How I parent each of my 4 kiddos varies and is really about what suits them best.
But there are a few things that I’ve noticed are true across the board.
Becoming the parent I want to be
This parenting gig is simultaneously one of the hardest and best things we do.
For me, it started off simply enough with my first. He was a very attached baby but was otherwise, fairly simple. Even when I added my second little one into the mix, things were still very do-able. Then number three came. And number four. And somewhere along the way, I kissed “simple” goodbye.
Mom life has challenged me (in the best and most beautiful ways). And these are the truths that have formed over time in my heart on this mom journey.
One thing to note: NONE of it is possible for me without God. When I focus on MYSELF and MY CIRCUMSTANCES instead of focusing on God, I become:
With Him, motherhood is an ebb and flow of amazing (though often difficult) experiences that always lead me deeper into His truth and bring our family closer as a unit. (And it’s also an ongoing exercise in character!)
Without further ado, here are 6 great rules for parenting:
1) Connect before you correct
I talk about this more in this post:
But here’s the rub: the better the relationship, the more your kids trust you, the more they will respect what you have to say and WANT to listen. Parenting is really about discipleship. Not punishing someone into submission.
By connecting before we correct, we show our kids Jesus.
2) Practice the Pause
Man, when I’m frustrated, I want my kids to do it the right way the first time because I said so. I know I’m right. And I also know I have their best interest at heart.
But do they?
One of my favorite examples is found in John 8. You may look at this story and say, how in the world do you see parenting in this chapter? But it’s there.
Judah Smith has a great sermon on this passage. In it, he talks about how everyone always tries to figure out what Jesus was writing in the dust here. Instead, Judah focuses on what the act of him writing in the dust does to the scene.
The Pharisees are out for blood. They want answers from Jesus, like NOW. But instead, Jesus slows down the whole scene. He’s the one in control. He pauses, presumably for a while if we look at how irritated the Pharisees become.
When he finally does speak, it silences the accusers.
I find that I silence the accuser in my own mind toward my children when I take a moment to pause. How can I cast a stone at the heart of my child, knowing how often I fall short as an adult?
Practicing the pause gives my heart a minute to prepare itself, hear God’s voice, and speak with compassion (while still maintaining authority).
3) Boundaries, rules, and consequences are good
You’re probably thinking, “duh, Audriana!” But a recent post written by Rachel over at A Mother Far From Home really helped me better understand what my personal boundaries are as a parent and how those shape my rules.
I’m the type of person who tries to ignore my own personal boundaries, and then I wonder why I’m so irritated. Her post really helped me clear that up.
It’s also important that we set up consequences that make sense. Not random or overly-harsh ones out of anger or frustration.
4) Becoming emotionally irritated while disciplining never helps
It’s there. The frustration is right there, bubbling at the surface, ready to explode like hot lava all over your back-sassing 6-year-old.
But it won’t help. I know because I’ve been there. Over and over and over. Pretty much daily.
And every day, I have the choice of letting my feelings get the better of me, or parenting in the way I know I’ve been called to parent. I don’t always make the right choice. Chances are, you don’t either. There’s mercy for us on those days.
But there’s more than that. Anger doesn’t have to have a place in our homes.
I recently got an email from a reader about dealing with anger. I’ll tell you part of what I spoke to her. It came from a Melissa Helser podcast. In the interest of keeping it brief, I’ll get right to the point. We can tend to the fruits of the Spirit like we tend to a garden. Spending time with the Lord and allowing Him to search our hearts helps to grow those fruits. Then, at any time throughout the day, we can choose to pick them.
When I’m feeling frustrated, I say OUT LOUD, “God I trade this anger for your perfect peace and joy.”
5) Be someone you’d want your kids to become
Of course, that can be easier said than done. Being the example they need probably means submitting to some work. Actually a lot of work. (And also accepting God’s mercy and empowering grace along the way!)
I say submitting because God will be the one doing all the heavy lifting. But you’ll be allowing the fields of your heart to be plowed.
This may look like:
- seeking solid Christian counsel
- being intentional about spending more time in God’s Word
- spending lots of time in earnest prayer
- PRAISING Him even before we see the change
- taking in helpful points of view (via books, blogs, podcasts, YouTube videos, etc.)
- honestly and vulnerably connecting with people who have been there
6) Do your best, let God do the rest
The Lord knows how hard I can be on myself, thinking that it’s all on me. Do you feel that way? Are you being crushed under the weight of parenthood? That’s not God’s design for the family or His hope for your life.
Are you familiar with this verse?
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.
Matthew 11:28-30 (NKJV)
Chances are, you know it.
But recently I learned some background on this verse that I hadn’t yet heard. In the book, The Dream of You, Jo Saxton talks about it.
I knew that a yoke was something used to hook up an ox for work in the field. But she brought something else to light. During this work, a younger ox would be paired under the same yoke as an older, stronger, more experienced ox. In this way, the younger ox didn’t have to do the “hard” stuff, but learned how to do the work.
This is the picture of us under the yoke of Jesus. He does all the heavy lifting while we’re able to learn from Him and see how He operates.
This applies to EVERY circumstance of life, including parenting. We can come up under His yoke and see how it feels to parent from His perspective.
What parenting rules do you live by?
Until next time,
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