I've only been a parent for just a little bit over four years. But even in such a short time, my wife Ces and I have been exposed to many myths and misconceptions that Christian parents often believe.
Many of these myths can be subtle in that they appear to be effective Christian parenting principles. But at the heart of it all is a big lie that wants to mislead parents and ruin children and their freedom to approach God.
Here are six common misconceptions about Christian parenting that we should stop believing in starting today.
1. Raising Kids Is Simply Providing for My Child's Physical Needs
The primary providers of a child's physical needs are the parents. We buy the diapers, the food, the clothes and the toys. We give our children shelter for protection and medication when they get sick. But our job does not end there. We are also providers of spiritual guidance, actively pointing our children to Christ so that they learn to trust in Him more and more.
2. Bringing My Child to Church Fulfils My Role as a Spiritual Mentor
In my years in ministry, I've seen how parents have completely delegated and outsourced the teaching of God's Word to Sunday school teachers and youth pastors. "That's what they get paid to do, right?" they would say.
Well, the answer is both yes and no. While there is a special calling for ministerial and spiritual leadership, the primary spiritual mentors of children will always be the parents.
3. I Can Never Not Know What to Do as a Parent
The most liberating truth for me as a Christian parent was realising that it was okay for me to say "I don't know." We won't always have the answers to whatever trials life throws at our kids or at our families. But in our weakness God shows Himself to be strong.
4. I Have to Control My Child's Character Development
Our child's character does not depend on us. Yes, we can and should guide, discipline and mould our children. But the power of the work of the Holy Spirit and prayer fulfils what we can never achieve with our own power and control.
5. The Best Way to Protect My Children Is to Shield Them From the World
Sometimes in our attempts to shield our children from the immorality and filth of this world, we completely detach them from reality. No sleepovers, no parties, no movies, no television and so on. I'm not saying you're a bad parent if you ban your kids from certain things. But there is a danger to overdoing it, leaving our children clueless about the realities of this world.
6. I'm a Good Parent
News flash: We're all sinful parents and we will never be "good" parents. Yes we'll get one or two things right every now and then, but ultimately we will fail and we will need God's grace. Not that that's an excuse to slack off as parents. But it is a big wake up call for us that we need God's intervention now more than ever.