A Formula for Raising Kids?

by Doug Wolter

I'll never forget the day my oldest daughter (who was 2 at the time) had her first big meltdown.  We were in the midst of hundreds of people at a 4th of July parade and she was completely inconsolable.  We tried everything but nothing seemed to calm her down.  I'm sure the people around us were thinking to themselves, "Wow, they can't get control of their kids."  And we're thinking, "Yeah, we know!

But what made that day even more memorable is that I was wearing a special t-shirt my girls had given me for Father's Day.  On the front, in big letters, it read, "GREATEST DAD."  That's right.  Greatest Dad.  Needless to say, that day convinced me that God enjoys humbling me for my own good!

You see, God used that little meltdown (I can call it little now) to humble me and teach me something about parenting.  As a new father I cared a lot about doing things the right way.  I wanted to do everything by the book--by the parenting books I had read.  Though I wouldn't ever say it this way, I was searching for a formula for raising my kids.  Why?  Because I was afraid.  I was afraid that if I messed up then my children would be messed up.  Not only that, I wanted control.  I wanted to do everything by the book so I could feel good about myself and rest at night knowing that God would bless me and my family.  I thought if I did A and B than I should get C.  But that's not always the case, is it?  A + B does not always equal C, especially in parenting!  That's why I love the gospel.  It frees me and reminds me that only God can ultimately raise my kids.  Only God change their hearts.  Only God can use this broken jar of clay and reveal his gospel treasure to my children.  Gary Thomas, in his book, Sacred Parenting, says it well:

We’re not the best parents, not by far. We don’t have all the wisdom we’d like. We don’t understand how everything fits together. We make mistakes, we make messes, we can do everything wrong – but God looks at us with a Father’s delighted eyes. Where we see weakness, God sees humility. Where we see messes, God sees intent. Where we see failings, God sees motives. And he smiles. He takes us into his arms. And he laughs a delighted Father’s laugh.