Christian parenting. You should know this by now. I blog from a profoundly Christian point of view. And I know, it's the end of a crazily long, non-stop busy day at home with the kids. If you were to list all the things you did today, from cleaning out the washing machine dirt catcher thingy, to cleaning snot from the baby's nose for the up-teenth time, to cooking a slap- together meal in 30 mins... I'm sure the list will run very long.
You don't need a post like this right now. You just need to sit back and pretend you were invisible.
But I was recently hit by this thought and so I decided to put it in a long post. (short posts are reserved for Facebook and long ones for the blog. heheheh.) Let's humour me and over generalise things and imagine two parenting "strategies": the Shepherd or the Sheep Dog parenting. Having by now gone through 16 plus years of this parenting journey, and still currently handling a 4 year old, and the whole range of 6 kids right up to age 16, I can say, I have been both Shepherd and Sheep Dog, sometimes both in the same day! (I'm not very sane anymore, as you can see. Somewhat schizophrenic from mothering for 16 years.)
The Shepherd. The Bible uses this analogy of the Shepherd at several instances. Jesus calls Himself the Good Shepherd who lays down His life for the sheep. John 10:11 I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. We also recall that well loved Psalms 23: The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
A good shepherd is someone who is concerned for his sheep and will do what he can to ensure the safety, protection, comfort and utmost care for them. Not only that, he plans ahead, looking for good pasture, watering holes for the sheep to be well fed and watered. He is always looking out for any sheep that goes a stray or hurts itself.
To translate that into parenting terms, I would liken a Shepherding parent to be one who cares for the well-being of her child- but not just the physical, mental and material well-being. Too many parents stop at that. If their kids have their designer clothes/shoes/bags, have eaten their favourite macDonald's meal, have gone for their tuition and other extra classes, many parents will pat themselves on the back and say they have done a great job. What, that twice a year overseas trip surely must score some good parent points too.
The years of growing and discipling the young ones that God has given to me and my hubby has taught me about the importance of Shepherding our child's hearts. So this is caring for their spiritual well-being. It entails a careful and consistent teaching of God's word and His ways to them in opening the Bible to them daily, making His word our way of life. And more so, being a good model to them by walking the talk. It is so important: open a physical King James Bible and read it to them. They have to have their own physical "swords" and have a highlighter ready to note important verses, commit them to memory! Don't settle for kiddy substitutes. The children need to learn that this is God's word and it has precious truths and we can rest our lives upon it!
2 Tim 3: 15-17 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
If you as a parent don't know what the Bible says, then please by ALL means, be a good student of the Word yourself. There are no short-cuts. You can't give what you don't have.
This morning, as a family, we were reading Proverbs 20:1 Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise. We took the opportunity to dwell a little more on this topic of drinking. Our children already know that we abstain from all alcohol. But it was a great opportunity to open the bible again and show to them the specific verses that warn us about what devastation wine does to lives. We do have a young man in our household who might be entering National Service really soon (counting down the years!) and he (in all likelihood) will be having to face a drinking culture in there and he needs to have a good biblical foundation to stand on, not just "my mommy says I shouldn't drink."
Shepherding parents have a strong desire to bring their children to the Good Shepherd and He can be found through an abiding love for studying the Bible. Do you believe in the power of the WORD itself? If you do, then you would want to put it into the hands of your precious children.
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
Pray for your children. Pray because it truly is a fight for their souls that we have to wage on their behalf, on our knees.
Now, I get to contrast Shepherd parenting to Sheep Dog parenting- the one who nips and barks. The sheepdog's main task is to get the sheep from point A to point B as a group without too much distraction or detours. Time is of the essence. The sheepdog tends to use force and pain to get his job done, like nipping and biting the sheep.
Why are we always in a hurry? We need to get things done quickly but kids are slow, distracted, clumsy and at the worst time possible, they will break out in bouts of uncooperativeness. And that's usually when Sheep Dog parenting kicks in. Shouting, threatening, pinching, hitting: all the things that you never imagined you would do to a child before you had children. Suddenly, you realise that you weren't as patient or saintly as you thought you were. Children have such a way of bringing out the best and the worst in their parents!
I don't want to dwell here too long. I know you feel lousy enough as it is. You think you have failed as a parent. I'll just share a not-so-secret secret to overcoming Sheep Dog parenting- spend time with the Lord at the start of the day. Spend time in the Word to refresh your soul to allow Him to speak to you through his Word. And then spend time in prayer. Sheep Dog parenting, I suppose, is the equivalent of acting in the flesh.
Romans 8: 5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.