Many people consider parenting to be the mother’s job and, even if they believe both parents need to be involved, mom often ends up with most of the responsibility. But parenting isn’t a one-person job. God intended for moms and dads to parent as a team.
Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival.
Marriage: Made in Heaven? Part 14 “Parenting as a Team”
We’re in a series on God’s design for marriage. If you haven’t read the previous posts in this series, you can read them here. In today’s post we’ll talk about how important parenting as a team is to our marriages and to our children.
Ephesians 6 says:
¹ Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: 3 “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”
4 And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.
There is so much packed into those four short verses. More than I could ever address completely in a single post. So, if you’re a new believer, new to parenting, or have a desire to grow in this area, I have provided an extensive list of resources in another post, “Parenting from the Foot of the Cross.” I hope you’ll check it out.
But, for today, I want to focus on the team aspect of parenting.
Many people consider parenting largely the mother’s job and, even if they believe both parents need to be involved, mom often ends up with most of the responsibility. But notice, Paul addressed verse 4 directly to fathers.
Of course, he’s speaking to mothers, as well. But the father, as the head of the home, has the responsibility to see that children are brought up “in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 5.22-24; 6.4). He is the one who will ultimately answer to God (1 Tim. 3.4-5).
But parenting isn’t a one-person job. God intends for moms and dads to parent as a team.
I understand there are many godly single parents out there. Some are single, not by their own choice. Others came to Christ after becoming parents or are single for a variety of other reasons. But I think we would agree that God’s design has always been for children to be raised in a home with a mother and a father.
In the beginning, God said:
26 … “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Gen. 1).
God commanded the first man and woman to be fruitful and multiply (procreate) and to fill the earth and subdue it (dominion, authority).
The family was to consist of one man and one woman in a covenant relationship for a lifetime. Children were to be under their authority until they were grown. When they married, they were to form a new family unit (Gen. 2.24).
Amos 3.3 says, “Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?”
In a perfect world, husbands and wives would always agree on parenting goals, styles, and methodologies. But, in reality, the arrival of children can test and shake a marriage to the core.
Different backgrounds, personalities, experiences, levels of spiritual maturity, or the lack of any relationship with Christ can all create a parenting stew.
Some believe in spanking. Some don’t. Some think children should be free spirits. Some are overly controlling.
The only way all these differences can be reconciled is by consulting the Parenting Expert. God has given us all the instructions we need in His Word. His Word needs to be our standard, not our family of origin, not what seems right to us, but what God says is right.
Parenting in the Daily Routine of Life
The book of Deuteronomy is a restating and summarizing of the law and in chapter 6 God said:
6 “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
The definition of the word translated diligently means, “to point, to pierce, to inculcate, to teach diligently, to sharpen, or to whet.” Inculcate is defined as “to impress (something) upon the mind of another by frequent instruction or repetition; to instill.”
I’ve heard people say, I don’t want to impose religion on my children. I want them to grow up and decide for themselves. I’m sorry, but that’s utter foolishness and not in keeping with God’s instructions to us as parents.
Neither should we leave that responsibility up to the church or the Christian school. Both of those institutions may contribute to our efforts, but it’s our responsibility.
When are we to teach them? “When we sit in our houses, when we walk by the way, when we lie down, and when we rise up.” All the time. Life is full of teachable moments.
We need to teach our children to love their enemy when they are bullied or mistreated. That doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be consequences for bullies and protection of those being bullied, but children need to learn how to respond on a personal and heart level.
We need to teach our children to prefer others in the midst of squabbles over toys or TV time.
We need to teach them how to respond to authority (even rude, imperfect authority) when we’re stopped by a police officer or asked to obey some other authority.
We need to teach good stewardship both by how we handle our money and other resources and by instructing them with their own.
We need to teach them the importance of the Word and prayer by praying with them, studying God’s Word as a family, and by allowing them to see us doing both in our personal time with the Lord.
“You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
When God’s law is bound to our hands, it will control what we do. If it’s right between our eyes, it will control how we think. If it’s posted on the doorpost and the gate, it should be our standard inside our homes and out.
Working Ourselves Out of a Job
My mother likes to say that you never stop being a parent and there is some truth to that statement. You should never stop loving and praying for your children no matter what their age.
But one of our goals as parents should be to work ourselves out of a job.
Primary & Secondary Relationships
God never intended the parent-child relationship to be the primary one. In too many cases, once children arrive, our spouse takes a backseat to our relationship with our children. This is not only devastating to the marriage, but to the children, as well.
Lou Priolo in his book, The Heart of Anger, says:
A child who is at the center of a child-centered home believes that he and his desires should be the focal point of the entire household. It is in the context of a child-centered home that many children grow up believing that society owes them a living.
Some of the ways we make our homes child-centered might surprise you, but one of the ways is for the parent-child relationship to take precedence over the husband-wife relationship.
When those same children realize the world does not revolve around them, they frequently end up angry, bitter people.
We must seek to maintain right priorities in the family: God first, spouse second, and children third.
Humility, Grace & Love
Spend time praying together for your children and your parenting. Seek God’s wisdom. Don’t get hung up on preference issues. Seek to really understand each other. Listen. Your spouse just may have insights you don’t.
I do understand that some of you are married to unbelievers and this is very challenging. I want to encourage you that God is faithful. Do your best to be Christ in your home (1 Pet. 3.1-2) and trust Him for the results. I’ll be talking more about that subject next week.
Both marriage and parenting take lots of humility, grace and love. The good news is, God has an abundance of all three. And when we prayerfully seek His wisdom and obey His Word, He’ll give us all we need.
I hope you’ll share your thoughts about parenting or marriage, in general. How have you and your spouse grown in this area? What have you learned along the way?
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