Monday, July 31, 2006

Parenting in Philippians

With my children I seek to obtain first time obedience. That's what I want, but that's not always what I expect. This is what you might hear in our household on any given day:

"Amanda, when you're finished with your lunch, put your plate in the sink."

Ten minutes later, after she's left the table and plopped down in front of the TV, or flipped open her latest read, "Amanda, I asked you to put your plate in the sink."

Ten minutes after that, "Amanda, I'm not going to ask you again to put your plate away."

I am the weak link in this chain. If I really expect her to do it, it is my responsibility as a parent to put down my book, turn off the computer, or stop doing my own chores to watch her and address it as soon as she gets up, by either applauding her obedience, or making sure that she does obey right then.

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed--not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence--continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

Philippians 2: 12 - 13

Fortunately, God is not the weak link. He is working in her and in me to act, and even to will (which I interpret as my desire to act) on His good purpose. The working out comes when I choose to do what's right, even getting others to hold me accountable if necessary; when I pray without ceasing for the wisdom to parent rightly, when I put aside what is hindering my spiritual growth.

But these disciples of Paul's not only obeyed while he was watching, but even more when he wasn't. Isn't that what we truly desire our kids to do? If they have some serious working out of the non-obedient sort, I want them to do that with me. I went them to obey "even more" in my absence, and I think to some extent, they do. Amanda knows that if she is at a friend's house, she should be on her best behavior, really putting into practice what she knows is right.

My ultimate goal in parenting is to give them enough to go on so that they can make responsible and moral choices whether I'm watching or not.

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Sunday afternoon when I was working on this, I know that Amanda didn't know what I was writing about, so she couldn't have been staging her behavior just to make a good showing in the blog post, so may I brag on her a bit? I asked her to go get the mail. She hopped up and headed out and asked me if I would tell her who won. I forgot that she was watching the Food Network Challenge on Celebration Cakes, and it was in the last two minutes when they were about to announce the winner. Well, of course, I told her that she could watch the winners and then do it, but I did thank her for her quick obedience. Trust me when I tell you that both of us usually behave much more like what's described in the opening scenario. It looks like we are both learning.

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This is second in a series on Philippians. Come back all this week for more.

Day 1: Praying from Philippians
Day 2: Parenting in Philippians
Day 3: Standing Out in Philippians
Day 4: Self Confidence in Philippians
Day 5: Strength and Gentleness in Philippians
Day 6: Peace in Philippians

Day 7: Showing Concern in Philippians


eph2810 said...

What a wonderful post, Jennifer. Yes, sometimes we lack on God's obidence, but I can invision His smile when we 'hopp up' and follow His calling.
Thank you so much for sharing :)

Jen Rouse said...

My daughter is only 2, but already I so can identify with what you say about me being the weak link in the obedience chain. It is easier to just let things slide than to actively train our children in the way they should go. Thanks for the encouragement to be faithful in this hugely important task.

Laura said...

i've been thinking on this lately as i give my daughter a directive from across the room (she's 18 mo. old) and expect her to follow it. i am consistent in that if she doesn't (after the fifth time i tell/ask her) i get up to make sure it happens...but i've been thinking..."hey, i wouldn't like to be barked at from across the room all the time. maybe i should go over to her and ask her to do such and such." your post was a great reminder about this and not just to do it, but the why behind it as well!

Heather said...

thanks for this post. i am not yet a mother, but my husband and i hope to have kids at some point in the future, so even now, i keep my eye out for parenting wisdom. i have never thought of the philippians passage applied in this way.

Katrina said...

Love this post. I, too, slack off in the obedience/follow-through area more than I should. Great application - you gave me some things to think and pray about!

Lindsey @ Enjoythejourney said...

OUCH....I got my toes stepped on. I'm right there with you being the weak link in the chain. Thanks for this wonderful post Jennifer :)

And I loved reading your birthstory below, didn't comment, but what a sweet little boy you have.

Jennifer said...

Thanks for the positive feedback.

Lindsey, you've stepped on my toes a few times, too, so I'm glad I gotcha back.

Katherine@Raising Five said...

A weak link in this area, too. Sheesh! What is the deal? I thought we were fixing them, but God seems to always have a way of doing work on me at the same time. I wish it were once and for all, but that's not how it works. I do think that how our kids act elsewhere is a pretty good indicator of how they will act (generally) later in life, when we're not around. This gives me hope, because my kids seem to be better behaved when at someone else's house! Great post!

Susanne said...

Awesome post! "It is my put down my book, turn off the computer, or stop my chores to watch her..." Well ouch! I just realized I too am that weak link. Oh I hear the wind of change in me that you have sparked. And I love how you said that God is not the weak link.

At A Hen's Pace said...

I can so relate to this post!

Thanks for stopping by--

R.G. said...

Great post and really cool blog! Just visited for the first time... looks like I have a lot of reading to do!

Laurel Wreath said...

This is sometime my husband and I both were lazy about early on in our parenting. It was shown to us by a loving person. And since then we keep each other accountable. Sometimes it is sooooooooo hard! =))

Blair said...

Great post! I needed this reminder this morning. I was thinking something similar last night before bed but had forgotten till now. The Lord knew I needed this :o)

Sissy B. said...

with a tweenager I can't afford to be a weak link...but I must confess I am...I am moving on to check out the first day of Philippians...thanks for this post!

Wendy said...

Great post! I find that I have ups and downs with this, which isn't good. I know I need to be consistent. It is definitely easier to let things slide in the short term, but not the long term.