Josh Harris posted a very interesting article written by and for home school parents. It is highly relevant for all of us. I am not a homeschooler, though we did toy with the idea when the children were younger. I will never forget a conversation with Mike Hewett who urged me to think about whether I was considering homeschooling out of fear. I immediately realized I was, and resolved that since whatever is not of faith is sin I would not homeschool. Of course it is very possible to home-school in faith, it was just that for me it was a plan that I was beginning to think of out of fear.
But the fear that wants to protect our children is very natural. Inside every parent is the desire to shield their children. Yet we know our role is to progressively release them into a world that contains so many dangers. I know I do not always get that balance right. I know I have much still to learn as a parent. But I offer the following tips taken straight from the article I read.
- Avoid imposing Self-Centered Dreams on our children: “It is only natural for parents to have high hopes and dreams for their children. However, when we begin to see our children as a reflection or validation of us, we become the center of our dreams, and the children become our source of significance. When that happens in our home it affects the way we relate with our children, and subtly breaks down relationship.”
- Don’t make your desire for success as a parent into idolatry: “When we allow the success of our family to determine our security or sense of wellbeing we are seeking from it something God intends us to receive from Him.”
- Don’t emphasize outward obedience at the expense of inward change: “Just suppose that one day, while you were waiting for the apples to begin growing on your tree, you caught a glimpse of a neighbor’s apple tree. You noticed in admiration that its branches were laden with big, luscious apples. What would you do? Would you run to the produce market to buy some apples, then go home, and in the dead of night, tie them onto your tree? . . .It is the same with our children – luscious fruit will be born from what we put into them – not from what we tie onto them. As a matter of fact, in no time, the fruit that we put onto our children will rot and fall off.”
- Don’t be judgmental and proud: “There are several serious consequences of raising children in a home marked by pride and judgment. Children may grow up also judging others. Or, they may hide their real values, acting as though they embrace our values, when, in fact, they are simply seeking to avoid discipline and lectures at home. Or, they may see the shallowness of our legalistic faith that consists primarily of “avoid this, wear that, attend this,” and not be attracted to it in the least.”
- Don’t rely on formulas: “God doesn’t want us to trust in principles, methods, or formulas, no matter how “biblical” they seem. God wants us to trust in HIM”
- Win their hearts rather than only ruling their behavior, avoiding over-dependence on authority and control: “Relationships between parents and teens are weakest in control-oriented homes. Bev and I treated our children as if they were “projects.” The more they became projects, the less we had significant relationship. The less we had relationship, the more we lost their hearts. Without their hearts, the less we were able to influence them or their values.
- Strike a balance between protecting and enabling: “All parents shelter – they just draw their lines in different places . . . However, it is how they ultimately engage the world that proves their spiritual resilience. This is because sheltering does not transform the human heart – it merely preserves it, temporarily.”
- Pass on a a pure faith which is caught as well as taught: “I am convinced that the most contagious parenting is living a heartfelt faith before your children. Fruitful interaction is not about what you do to your young people, but who you are with them. It’s about having a real faith in God, and expressing it in a real relationship with a real person–not about methods and self-working principles. God intends that the side-effect of loving Jesus and enjoying the grace of the gospel will be that all people–including our children–will be touched by the Savior in us. I pray in Jesus’ name that as you read these words you will experience the grace of God in a fresh and new way.”
Read the whole article and ask Jesus to make you an influential parent.