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Goal of Parenting

February 12, 2013

I agree with John Piper that the purpose of a person’s life is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever. That is my (and Sarah’s) desire and the Casting Crowns song, “Let my Lifesong Sing” was the special music at our wedding almost six years ago expressing that purpose for our marriage. As parents, we have done some reading and of course, our own thinking and reflecting on Scripture. As a result, I have come to the conclusion that the goal of parenting is to “raise each child so that s/he can become a spiritually mature adult.” The rest of this post explains the choice of words in the previous phrase:

  • raise each child – each child is different, in birth order, personality, interests, talents, abilities, gifts (natural & spiritual), learning styles, etc. So raising a child is not a one-size fits all “checklist.” Yes, there need to be consistent standards and non-negotiable rules/expectations and appropriate action for mistakes, errors and sin. However, while we want our discipline to be consistent within the family, it may take different forms appropriate to each child, especially as they grow older. One of my favorite examples is that my parents would ground (ie. must stay at home) my teenage brother for misbehavior which was torture for him as an extravert, life-of-the-party person. For me an introvert, grounding was not a punishment, but a blessing! I’d just go to my room and read a book or watch tv at home (two things I would probably do anyway!).
  • so that s/he can become – Parenting is not a formula. We cannot “produce” a product, or even get 95% success rate on the “widget” we are manufacturing. Theologically, God must be the One at work in their lives helping all the characteristics we as parents desire to see to grow. We have the privilege and responsibility of providing an environment that is conducive to this development. But a home is not a factory. Some of the worst homes I know have been the “family of origin” of some amazingly spiritually mature adults; and some of the richest, spiritually vibrant homes I know have some “black sheep” that only God could explain.
  • spiritually – tying in with the previous point, you want your child to become an adult who can make Christ-honouring decisions on his/her own. Your desire is for s/he to be able to think through the options and choose what is best – to eat, to watch, to spend time or money on, etc.  Certainly, you hope that they will ask you for counsel on major decisions (ie. career, marriage partner, etc), yet the goal of parenting is that they could make the godly choice without your input. In fact, a spiritually maturing adult will seek counsel to make wise choices and not be unhealthily “independent.” Yet knowing the right people to ask for biblical counsel is a sign of spiritual maturity.
  • mature adult – again, more than just spiritually, the desire is for your child to be able to live “independently” in terms of geography, finances, transportation, etc. Bottom line: they should not be calling mom &/or dad daily or weekly for something.

I welcome your questions, comments or other feedback. With three children under 5, I certainly don’t claim to have all the answers!

So, what can you do when children are pre-schoolers to help them become these kind of men? women?

Can you parent a disabled child the same way?

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