Parenting Pt 2 – Identity-fying the cancer

by Jeff Saferite on February 28, 2012

“This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.” – Matthew 3:17

I cannot express how much I love parenting. My hope is that it is not too difficult to notice this. In truth, I was and still am a pretty messed up character who only has bit of worth, which comes from the grace and mercy of my Heavenly Father. One of the reasons I enjoy parenting so much is that in many ways it highlights who I am as a person. Like I stated in the intro to this series, I believe the parenting is second only to marriage in God’s tools of discipleship.

Identity
Parenting starts with me, the parent. One of the greatest fruits that comes from God’s parenting form of discipleship is humility. Humility is not necessary holistic. Just because your a humble in your profession does not mean you will automatically be a humble parent, and vice versa. At the center of humility is a persons well-placed identity. When we discover our identity, we discover where we receive our self-worth or what makes us feel valuable or worthy. When self-worth is coming from a healthy place, more than likely we will find humility.

My Son, whom I love; with who I am well-pleased
From Matthew 3:17 we find two paramount truths for the sake of parenting. Jesus’ Father, our Heavenly Father, solidifies who Jesus is and the worth He has. Think about it. Jesus had a mission to proclaim and reveal the Way of the Kingdom and save the world from the death sin held over all creation. Talk about a big task. From the very beginning, before Jesus had done anything, God His Father proclaimed Jesus was His Son and that He was pleased with Him. Jesus had done nothing to earn this worth, He was simply given it. This freed Jesus from attempting to earn His Father’s favor. So when Jesus faced what could have been viewed as failure in the eyes of the disciples, Jesus remained calm and steadfast.

This can be seen in John 6:60-70. Jesus had just explained the importance He would play going forward and many of his followers did not like it. In fact most of them were grumbling and eventually left. Why didn’t this cause Jesus to doubt himself? How was He able to keep confidence and face those that remained? If the abandonment of so many people had, even in the slightest, caused Jesus lose faith, His disciples would have surely sensed it. Instead of questioning His leadership, they responded by saying where else can we go? They KNEW Jesus held the words to life.

Unwavered
Why did Jesus’ faith not wavier? He did not wavier because His identity or self-worth did not come from the people who did or did not follow Him, but from His Father. Same can be said for when He wowed the crowds with amazing miracles or with his authoritative and wise words. Earlier in the chapter of John (6:15), Jesus had sensed they were going to force Him into being King but He retreated and gave the message that made so many upset. Neither pride nor self-doubt had no foothold on Jesus because the only thing that gave worth to Jesus was His Father’s view of Him.

Oncoming Disaster?
This alone is a great lesson for parents to understand but not the point I want to focus on today. Today I want you to put yourself in the place of Jesus. Those who choose to live in Christ covenant themselves in the same manner with the Father. This means your Heavenly Father is still pleased with you regardless of how successful or unsuccessful of a parent you are (yes, this is assuming you are not beating, cussing out, or flat out ignoring your child). This is HUGE for a parent because TOO MANY parents place their self-worth or value in the performance of themselves and their child. Most parents want to be good parents, but this is particularly difficult for parents who feel their self-worth or reputation is impacted by their parenting skills. If I feel my child’s behavior is an indicator of how good I am, the oncoming wreck can be disastrous.

A crying baby is no longer just a crying baby when we are receiving worth or value from the performance of our child. It is now personal because it is taking something from me (or adding something to me: pride). This is NOT GOOD. In fact, this is a HUGE cancer to raising a child. This puts a lot of stress on your child. Children, especially infants, are sponges to stress, tension and frustrations.

The is the reason I get so frustrated with the person saying a child is good birth control. It is hard enough for a parent to let go of self-image issues in regards to parenting without the added pressure of outsiders. As a parent you HAVE TO come to the understanding that your child’s behavior is not (necessarily) an indication of your parenting skills, and regardless it does not give or take away from who you are as a person. You ARE the [son or daughter] of the Father, whom He loves; who is well-pleased with you. How do I know this? Because He created you and HE DOES NOT make mistakes.

Think of it this way…
It is not an indication of who God is or how good He is when WE mess up or misbehave, and neither is it an indication of who we are or how good we are when our child cries or misbehaves. God does not hide us away form the universe because we misbehave and He is not embarrassed by our flaws, and neither should we hide away or be embarrassed by our children. He is a proud Father who is lovingly seeking to make us Holy, but our Holiness does not predicate His. As parents we are lovingly seeking to make our children good, but their goodness does not determine ours.

Functioning from Identity
A What typically gets us in trouble is we are parenting for our identity (self-worth/self-image/self-value) rather than from our identity. I have attempted to show that when we are worried about what our child’s performance (cries, does not cry/behaves well, does not behave well) says about us, we are no longer just parenting. We are protecting and/or defending our “self” (identity). Here is an image to help us see the flow of how we should operate:

Here the Father gives us our identity as his sons and daughters with whom He loves and is well-pleased before we ever consider parenting. Now out of the identity, as his sons and daughters, we become obedient to parenting as He parents. Our worth has already been solidified and now our success in this view is base only on being obedience to parenting how he parents. When we are parenting from our identity as children of the Heavenly Father, we are then obedient to parenting our children as the Father parents His. When we are parenting from our identity as a child in whom God loves and is well-pleased, we are freed to be confident that regardless of whether our child cries or does not cry we are still good parents. Just as our response to Him is not an indication of who He is, neither is our child’s response to us an indication of who we are.

Conclusion
I remember telling Robin that I was not going to be concerned with how other people viewed our parenting skills. We had and continue to have a mission/purpose in our parenting (I will speak later in the series) and that is what matters to us. For whatever reason I have never been concerned with a crying baby, whether in public or in private. What I am concerned with is fulfilling our mission. I believe this has unintentionally (or accidentally) created a calm and relaxed environment for our children. Babies, especially infants, are sponges to stress, tension and frustration. The more on edge you are, the more on edge they will be. They TRULY will imitate your posture.

Remember your responsibility is not to raise good kids but to parent in the manner in which your Father parents his. Your worth as a parent does not come from your child’s behavior but by your obedience to parenting your child the way the Father parents his. God gave both you and your child free will. You can only control how you respond to a situation. In a difficult time, remember you are the Father’s child, whom He loves; with whom is well-pleased. For those who struggle with what others think or with comparing yourself to others, focusing on better parenting skills may only make the situation more difficult. Instead, ask your Father in Heaven for grace to parent like He does. Also, continuously let yourself be remind that your self-worth,value and image comes from Him, and not from yourself or others. If this is a personal issue (consciously or subconsciously) you can be sure God is at work using the parental tool of discipleship :).

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

smores March 1, 2012 at 8:15 am

food for thought.
I’ve come to realize that kids are awesome because they give you someone else to be proud of besides yourself. Your horizon of possibility expands. even look at Matt 3:17- God is proud of Jesus. why? because Jesus gives Him glory.

so follow that logic for a minute- If God’s Son gives Him glory, then our kids give us some type of external face to the world and can give us “praise” or shame. Granted, our kids should be giving God glory, but if we are made in God’s image, then it is somewhat intrinsic that we take pride in their actions, behavior and character.

I don’t think we should base our self worth on what our kids do and become, but we should be getting feedback from their actions, esp when they are young and assessing if they need more direction/teaching/punishment/encouragement in certain areas so they can bring God’s glory to our family and to others.

I don’t base all my actions on what others think but if our kids are misbehaving or making other people upset and that is not giving God glory, then maybe I do need to change what I am doing at the moment.

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jeffsaferite March 1, 2012 at 10:45 am

Hey friend!

This is good stuff. Unfortunately much of our culture has lost the family honor that has supported so much of previous societies. Bringing shame to the family use to be a huge no-no. Children should act in a way that brings honor to the family. I like how you pointed out the difference between basing our self-worth and getting feedback for assessing what needs to take place in our child’s development. These are all things I hope to address in the coming blogs.

There is some danger in basing actions on what others think. First, are you giving direction/punishment/encouragement because of their opinion of you and your child, or because this is the development they need? The answer can actually be yes to both, but the former yes would be unhealthy. What is the motivation for the action? Are you developing their character in the eyes of our Heavenly Father or competing with the child down the street? Are you encouraging (pressuring) your child to talk and say their words more, because my child can talk in fluent sentences before the age of two or because you want to help them talk better. This can be a blind form of comparing and competition that is unhealthy. Are you punishing your child for throwing a fit in public because it is unacceptable or because it humiliated you? What is the motive?

As for Mark 3:17, Jesus had done nothing to bring God glory at this point. This was the beginning of His mission/ministry. The Father was pleased with Jesus because He was His Son. God was blessing and securing Jesus’ identity. We see in the next scene (in the desert) that Satan attacks this identity. The world is always trying to get us to question who we are, to either put too much or not enough faith in who God has created us to be.

Again in Matthew 17:5, the Father uses the same words in reference to Jesus. Why? Jesus had lost many followers, the church authority was seeking to capture/kill Jesus, and He had just told His disciples that He would die (in their eyes, fail). So the Father comes to solidify Jesus’ identity and His pleasure in Him, but this time ends with “Listen to Him!” Why? Because the whole world, including Peter, James and John, was doubting Jesus. The world thought ill of Jesus but the Father was still pleased.

The point here for parents is that it does not matter how the world is viewing your child or you as the parent, IF you are parenting your child as the Father is parenting His. Jesus glorified the Father by doing His will, even in the face of great trial and difficulty. This principle goes both ways. If your child is the most amazing child in the world, it is equally difficult to not take the glory for that. Matt Chandler calls us glory mongers. Ask people who have friends that cannot quit talking about how amazing their child is. Blessing and honoring our children should not come in the form of boasting. This can cause others to compare themselves to us, and we are not the measure. The Father and Son are.

However, if I am interpreting you correctly, you are speaking more of honor. We most certainly need a culture that brings honor to its family (parent to child and vice versa).

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