Discouraged Parents – Take Heart!
Every once in a while, after hearing us teach a parenting seminar, a distressed parent will come up and say, “I never knew this information before. Is it too late? I think I’ve ruined my kids.” One parent recently asked that question and I (Scott) said, “How old are your children?”
She replied, “Six and seven.”
I smiled and gently explained to her that it’s never too late.
Here’s a mom of relatively young children wondering if she missed out. I helped her realize that it’s never too late to help children grow up. In fact, many parents are still trying to influence their adult children toward maturity and wisdom.
Parenting is a Process
Sometimes well-meaning teachers, in order to motivate you to love your children when they’re young, say, “You have to work hard with your kids because their self-concept is developed by the time they’re five years old.” But what if your child is six? Does that mean you’re doomed?
Some well-meaning teachers, in order to motivate you to teach your kids before they’re teens, say, “You have to work hard to teach convictions to your children because their value system is developed by the time they’re twelve years old.” But what if your child is 13? Does that mean it’s too late?
Although these teachers have good intentions, they’re relying on a humanistic model of child development. On the other hand, we believe in a God who changes people at any age. He changes people at five and six, at twelve and thirteen. He even changes people at 35 or 45 years old, thank goodness.
It’s about Heart Change
And where does God do this work? He does it in the heart. When you ask Jesus to come into your life, then he sets up shop and throws out the old value system and builds a whole new one.
God changed the Apostle Paul from someone who fought and killed the Christians to someone who lovingly cared for them and won more converts to the faith. Don’t ever give up on your kids. They need you to believe in them and believe that God will continue the work he’s started.
Even if you’ve made significant mistakes in the past, don’t give up or berate yourself. Do the best job of parenting you can do now. Ask God to continue to grow you and help you to become the parent that he wants you to be.
God is Always Working
God delights in turning the hearts of the parents to their kids and the hearts of the kids to their parents. In fact, that’s one of the signs of the end times according to Malachi 4:6 which reads, “He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers.”
God created the family to be a laboratory for growth for both parents and children. In fact, many parents, it seems, learn more from their kids than the other way around. There’s nothing like having children to teach patience, anger management, self-control, and perseverance. It’s a good thing God continues to work on the hearts of parents while they’re raising their kids.
One of the greatest qualities parents need is to be teachable. If you’re always learning and growing, you’ll be able to flex with your child’s challenges, adapt to the developmental stages, and make the necessary parenting shifts to keep up with your kids.
Through Imperfect Parents
One of the reasons God gave imperfect parents to kids is so that we would all long for the perfect parent. Isn’t it interesting that God has chosen the picture of the family to describe the kind of relationship he wants to have with us? He wants us to know him as our Heavenly Father. In fact, that’s the most important parenting tip that anyone could receive.
If you’ve never trusted Jesus Christ as your personal savior, then please consider making that decision today. You want to get to know God as Father, not as a distant God that’s out there beyond reach. God wants to walk through the challenges of your life with you every day. It all starts by trusting Jesus as your Lord and Savior.
Parenting is the toughest job in the world. We need all the help we can get. Getting to know God as Heavenly Father provides all kinds of spiritual resources needed for parenting.
When you feel discouraged because of how far you or your children need to go, remember the encouraging words that Paul gave to the Corinthians, “He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 1:8)
It’s never too late to influence your children. Keep praying and enjoy the hope God gives to us all. He’s in the business of changing people.