On the coffee table in my office sits a stack of books – some Christian books and some secular books. All of these books relate, in one way or another, to how one should live out being a parent of adult children. These books suggest what I should or should not be doing, how to be a good mother-in-law, how to relate to my adult son, what to do when you realize you’ve failed your children in some way, and how to fix the things that you may have done unknowingly.
All of these books have been helpful, in one way or another.
If you are a parent, you know how desperately you want to do things correctly. You want to be the best mom you can be. You want to do it right. You don’t want to hurt your kids. You want to teach them all they need to know about life and God and everything that is important!
So you buy books.
The book I am reading presently talks about the different generations and what was emphasized when they were parenting. It then describes how those who were parented by each generation might think or view themselves and others as a result of these parenting methods and the teaching of the experts of their time.
What I like about parenting books that talk about what it’s like to have adult children is that they often approach parenting from a big picture perspective. They help you evaluate and find peace with what you have already done. They expose the holes that were in the parenting philosophies of your day. They help you see what was important and what was not important. With this in mind, I’ve come to this conclusion:
Although they do have some helpful content, most parenting books won’t stand the test of time.
Most parenting books become outdated and new books take their place with new philosophies and things that a new generation thinks are important–often feeling the need to correct what they have decided was done wrong in the parenting of past generations. As a mom of adult children I am now seeing the “results” of how my husband and I parented. I am seeing that we learn as we go, we make mistakes, we need to ask forgiveness or apologize for what we didn’t know, and then we need to move forward and continue to learn. I’m also seeing that I don’t need to think about it all the time, and I never really needed to think about it all the time.
I need space. My kids need space.
From the perspective I have now, I am seeing that all I really did was partner with God and he did what he wanted to do in our family and children, even though I like to think that all the blood, sweat, and tears – and reading– I put into parenting is what is to blame or what gets credit for the outcome.
When it comes to “biblical parenting” there are only a few things that the Bible says about parenting and these are the things to know and ask God to make a reality in our lives as we live and interact with our children.
- Children are a gift and a heritage from God. (Psalm 127:3)
- God desires children be disciplined and trained in the way He trains and disciplines us. (Proverbs 23:13-14; Numbers 14:18; Psalm 145:8; Psalm 86:15; Proverbs 10:1)
- God desires that we teach the next generation (our children) God’s commands, truths, and share about all he has done..(Deuteronomy 6:6-7; 11:19)
- We are not to provoke our children to anger. (Ephesians 6)
- Throughout the scriptures we read what kind of father our God is, giving us an example of what we should strive to be for our children.
- Proverbs offers Father to son conversations that we can glean from.
Many books are written by people who still have children in the home. The jury is still out…
Reading parenting books written by people with children still in the home can be helpful and will offer advice or valuable experiences that we can glean from, but they are written by authors with a limited perspective. They are written by well-meaning people who don’t know you or your children. Before implementing what we read from any book (other than scripture) we need to spend time praying over what God might have us do with our own children. As an empty nest mom, I am not an exception to this “rule”! Yes, I am reading a few books to help set me in the right direction, but I am praying that God will show me what He wants me to see and implement.
Read. Pray. Sift. Use what you can. Leave the rest behind.
Then, I seek counsel from my husband (and a few trusted friends) who know me, to test what I have read and what might be the next step as I move forward.
The best parenting advice I can give you is…
Pray. Ask for wisdom. Know the Word and what it says specifically about parenting and then pray some more! Ask God how he desires you to live that out and how he wants you to implement that into your life with your children.
That is the only parenting message that will stand the test of time.