Your Kids are Not Your Report Card
by Melissa Spoelstra
One day during church, a children’s ministry leader motioned for me to leave the service with her. In the hallway, she asked if I knew the parents of a certain child and requested my help in locating them. Their daughter had been scratched in the face by another three-year-old in class, and she needed to inform the parents. She didn’t know the details or which child was the scratcher. When we arrived at the classroom, I discovered that my daughter had been the culprit! After profusely apologizing to the parents, I packed up all four of my kids and scooted home as quickly as possible. I felt that if I were to get a “mom grade” that day, it would be an F.
Another time, I sat in a school assembly during which they awarded the citizen of the year award to only one third-grader in the entire school. When my son was chosen, I beamed. Arriving home after being congratulated many times over, I felt like an A parent—at least until one of the twins threw a tantrum.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of seeing our kids as our report cards. God calls us to answer their questions, train them and lovingly discipline them without exasperating them. So when they obey, that must mean we are succeeding; and when they disobey, we’ve missed the mark. Right?
Wrong. I’ve come to understand and embrace something profound. God modeled perfect parenting. He walked in the garden in close relationship with Adam and Eve. He clearly trained them, giving instructions about which tree was off-limits. Even though He loved His children perfectly, they still disobeyed. God continues to discipline, instruct and walk with His children. But He doesn’t grade Himself according to His children’s successes and failures. And neither should we.
When we use the behavior of our children as our parenting measuring rod, we find ourselves
- passing judgment on others when their children struggle, rather than encouraging and praying for them;
- yo-yoing between pride and shame according to our children’s behavior;
- envying our friends when we read social media posts about the academic, athletic and other achievements of their kids.
The result is disappointment and discouragement. So what can we do?
How can we shift our focus from our children’s behavior to the joy-filled adventure of teaching them what it means to follow Jesus? How can we give ourselves a total family makeover as we seek to train our children in the faith and make disciples at home?
This book gives you a way to begin—a “track to run on”—by suggesting eight practical steps to making disciples at home. These steps revolve around basic spiritual practices or habits that we want our children to embrace in their walk with God—both now and after they leave home. Each chapter in this book focuses on one of these eight practices. I hope it blesses you and your family.
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