The joys of parenting begin when the news first hits our ears...we're going to have a baby! Then we get to revel in all the shopping of baby items, planning of baby showers and dreaming of all that we'll do with our precious little gift from God. We savor every moment we get to sing to our child in the womb and read the Words of God to him or her every day. Then we're elated when the grand and long awaited day arrives and we get to hold our little bundle of joy in our arms; smell his/her fresh babyness, and delight in the wonders of holding a new life!
The parenting joys continue as we watch our sweet child experiment with sounds and begin to coo and smile, laugh, roll and play. We're just as eager and excited as they are when they learn to crawl and walk...until we realize a fully independent mobile child is often a full independent accident waiting to happen. Then we have nightmares that they've ingested poison, or a toy, put a fork in a socket, or climbed too high on a piece of furniture with only a hard floor to break their fall...or a bone.
As they get older, while we have mountains of joy spending time with them at family breakfast devotionals, midday chats about how the Lord has worked in their lives, family prayer times and times of playing games, watching movies and snuggling. And we experience many woes in between those moments of bliss we wish would never end. But they must.
If every experience we had in life were nothing but one jovial moment after another, we'd remain immature children with no idea of responsibility nor would we ever learn the natural and sometimes painful consequences of the choices we make in life. Without the sorrows of life, we'd never truly grasp the glory of the joys.
Though the woes of parenting are painful and sometimes make you feel like you just got the wind knocked out of you, they are necessary and can be trusted in the hands of our sovereign, good and loving God. They are necessary because there is no human being, save Christ, whose lived, living or will ever live that doesn't suffer from enormous amounts of pride. And if we never felt like a failure as a parent or repented of anything we've ever said or done while raising our children, then due to our immense pride, we're likely to take all the credit for how well our children turned out or the full blame for how not-so-well they turned out.
Neither extreme is healthy. And neither are true.
Whether we're the perfect parent (which no one is) or the parent who exposed and condoned heinous sins to our children i.e., pornography, abortion, same-sex or transgender lifestyles, etc. (which some have); we can neither claim full credit nor full blame for every decision our children make. Our children are not robots or computer programs where we can simply input data or write a code and expect the same results others get who inputted or coded a similar way.
Our children are living human beings, created by our awesome Father God. We all have natural proclivities to certain sins as well as gifts and talents to bless others.
Parenting isn't for wimps, the selfish, militant nor manipulative person who simply have children to gratify their already overweening egos. That's not parenting, that's propagating your own agenda much like Hitler who brainwashed, manipulated and militantly misled people to follow his ideal world; which included squashing the ideas and lives of others who didn't agree or fit into his utopia.
By God's immense grace He allows us to procreate and enjoy the blessing of having little ones entrusted to our care and raise them by His design, not ours. By His good and wise counsel, God has instructed us to lovingly train up our children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Eph 6:4). This instruction isn't some sort of archaic, impersonal commandment, but rather a glorious privilege and gift from God on how to best care for our precious children in accordance with His perfect Word rather than our fallible opinions.
"All have turned aside; together have become worthless; no one does good, not even one...And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him."
~Romans 3:12, Hebrews 11:6 (ESV)
Only through the hearing and receiving of the Gospel of Jesus Christ can any parent train up their children in the Way (that is, the narrow and holy way of Christ) they should go. If we don't understand the Gospel and if we haven't truly received it, the message of hope and the freedom found only in Christ can never be obtained, lived or taught.
It's only by God's grace that any of us are saved and it's only by His special grace upon His chosen people that we are kept and sanctified by the power of His Holy Spirit. I can't save either of my sons, but I can share and live the Gospel before them. I can't make them love God and others. But I can love God and others before them. I can't make them compassionate and considerate people. But I can demonstrate this through sacrificial service to them and others. I can't make them humble and thankful. But I can submit to my Lord Jesus and my husband joyfully and speak of the gratitude I have for the provisions God has made in my life.
Now that my sons are grown, I often ask myself, "Could I have done better?" And the answer is assuredly "YES!" There are so many things I've recently learned that I wish I knew two decades ago. But I didn't. And I know God allowed for that so I don't beat myself over the head with it. So what do I do with this new and improved parenting information I didn't have to benefit my children? I turn to those who are behind me and share this nugget of wisdom with them so their children can benefit. After all, what good is a blessing if you don't share it with others?
And this is the consolation: though none of us parents perfectly, by God's grace our children will be what He has ordained in His book in conjunction with our obedience, and even in spite of our disobedience. So though we may not be able to personally use all the wisdom about parenting we will continue to learn throughout our lives, we can still have the joy and privilege of passing them onto those who are raising the next generation.
"Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in Your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them...And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ...if we are faithless, He remains faithful—for He cannot deny Himself."
~Psalm 139:16, Philippians 1:6, 2 Timothy 2:13 (ESV)