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On Parenting

A post from Justin Taylor summarizing from a post by Kevin DeYoung on parenting:

 

Kevin DeYoung gives a fairly typical example of what gospel-centered attempts at parenting can look like in action:

Me: What’s the matter son?
Child: I want that toy and he won’t give it to me!
Me: Why do you want the toy?
Child: I don’t know.
Me: What’s going on in your heart when you desire that toy?
Child: I don’t know.
Me: Think about it son. Use your brain. Don’t you know something?
Child: I guess I just want the toy.
Me: Obviously. But why?
Child: I don’t know.
Me: Fine. [Mental note: abandon "why" questions and skip straight to leading questions.] Do you think he is having fun playing with the toy right now?
Child: No.
Me: Really?! He’s not having fun? Then why does he want that toy in the first place?
Child: Because he’s mean.
Me: Have you ever considered that maybe you are being mean by trying to rip the toy from his quivering little hands?
Child: I don’t know.
Me: What do you know?
Child: I don’t know!
Me: Nevermind. [I wonder how my brilliant child can know absolutely nothing at this moment.] Well, I think taking the toy from him will make your brother sad. Do you like to make him sad?
Child: I don’t know.
Me: [Audible sigh.]
Child: He makes me sad all the time!
Me: Well, I’m getting sad right now with your attitude! [Pause, think, what would Paul Tripp do?  Thinking . . .  thinking . . . Man, I can't stop thinking of that mustache. This isn't working. Let's just go right to the Jesus part.] You know, Jesus wants us to love each other.
Child: I don’t know.
Me: I didn’t ask you a question!
Child: [Pause.] Can I have some fruit snacks?
Me
: No, you can’t have fruit snacks. We are talking about the gospel. Jesus loves us and died for us. He wants you to love your brother too.
Child: So?
Me: So give him the toy back!

Then I lunge for the toy and the child runs away. I tell him to come back here this instant and threaten to throw the toy in the trash. I recommit myself to turning down speaking engagements on parenting.

Read the whole post, which is encouraging. A couple of lines that stood out: the quip cited by Alistair Begg: “When I was young I had six theories and no kids. Now I have six kids and no theories.” And from Kevin’s church secretary: “Most moms and dads think they are either the best or the worst parents around, and both are wrong.”

Here is Kevin’s upshot:

I just know that the longer I parent the more I want to focus on doing a few things really well, and not get too passionate about all the rest. I want to spend time with my kids, teach them the Bible, take them to church, laugh with them, cry with them, discipline them when they disobey, say sorry when I mess up, and pray like crazy. I want them to look back and think, “I’m not sure what my parents were doing or if they even knew what they’re were doing. But I always knew my parents loved me and I knew they loved Jesus.” Maybe it’s not that complicated after all.

And while we’re on the subject of parenting kids with the flavor of the gospel, let me again recommend the new book from Crossway, Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus, by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson.

10. May 2011 by Justin Buzzard
1 comment

One Comment

  1. That’s funny. My daughter (4 yrs) is probably more likely to give answers like that, while my son (6 yrs) is much more open to exploring his sinful conscience. In fact, we went through an opposite problem where he was apologizing for sinful thoughts! That was challenging discipline situation considering he didn’t actually DO anything. But there were lots of chances to explain total depravity and the solution in Christ. We had lots of prayer for him too from the entire church. He’s doing much better. :)

    We maintain a balance between law and grace with a combination of discipline and late night ice cream.

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