The Pastor Next Door

On Parenting: A Warning and An Encouragement

Part 1 of 11 on Parenting Principles

Ethan and Libby

Any time that I ask people what they want me to write about, almost always the topic of parenting comes up. A few years ago I wrote a little article with ten principles that have shaped our parenting. So, I thought it might be helpful to flesh out some of these ideas in their own posts. 

Before I begin the series I want to make sure that I share a word of warning with you. Parenting is intensely personal. What works for one set of parents may not necessarily work for another. Children are unique and different. No two settings, families, or situations are exactly the same. Everything I write here needs to be taken with a grain salt. 

To that end, I am going to avoid specifics. You're not going to see specific examples of how we worked out each of these principles. I am going to intentionally stay at the 10,000 foot level. That's because I don't want you to think that there is some sort of recipe for perfect parenting. 

All of us are going to do the best that we can do. It's hard. Parenting is, without a doubt, the most difficult thing that I have ever done in my life. Being entrusted with the lives of two people (in my case a son and daughter) is beyond daunting. At every turn I am just hoping that the decisions we make are not going to mess them up too bad. 

There are no perfect parents. If you are a parent or want to be a parent you are engaging in art, not science. There is no way that you can predict how the children who have been entrusted to your care are going to turn out. 

Yet, you can be intentional. You can try and think through a way to parent with some principles that will help you make decisions and provide a framework for your “why” when it comes to those decisions. 

My encouragement to you is this: parenting can be deeply rewarding, infuriating, joyful, and painful. There will be times when you have no answers. When you come to those moments choose grace and love. I am convinced that grace and love are probably the two most important components to parenting well. If the children who are entrusted to us leave our homes and know that the people who parented them love them and are the place and people of grace for them in the midst of life's storms, we have succeeded beyond compare. 

It takes real work to embrace love and grace in your relationships with the children entrusted to your care. It will not be easy. There will be times when you will go over board one way or another. When you do, it is not the end. There will be another chance. 

Parenting is like learning to ride a bike. You try and fall and try and fall and try again. Eventually, once you get your sense of balance and think you have it figured out they take your bike away. 

As my son and daughter are about to leave home, I'm thankful for the years that my wife and I have had to be their parents. They have taught us about love and grace in a depth that I could not have imagine. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the time we have had with them. Their futures are their own but I believe we have built a scaffold for them to live lives of faith, love, and grace. I am excited to see what they do with their lives. 


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