Home christian living The Mystery of Parenting: Our Role, God’s Role

The Mystery of Parenting: Our Role, God’s Role

by Kelly Crawford

I’ve raised kids long enough to know that there is no formula for turning out great ones.

But I’ve also raised them long enough to know that “a child left to himself brings his mother shame”.

Is there a greater mystery than the fact that a heart belongs to God and yet parents have a grave responsibility to train them and bring them up in the Lord?

Where’s the balance then in what belongs to Him and what belongs to us? If it’s all Him, we have a free ride. I don’t think any of us believes that. And if it’s all us, then the formula should “work” right?

Sadly, too many of us have fallen into one of the ditches, either forsaking our careful responsibility to train “arrows” because after all, “it’s only God’s grace”, or depending on a formula and being wildly disillusioned to find that it doesn’t always “work”; and if it does, being swallowed in pride, attributing their “success” to our precision.

The answer? Just like God’s sovereignty over salvation and our responsibility to submit to His authority intersect at a mysterious, humanly-out-of-grasp understanding, so does that of the dual partnership parents and God play in the lives of our children.

We cannot escape our obligation to teach them to love the Lord, even if they don’t appear to. We are commanded to give them wisdom–the fullness of all that is written in Scripture, to help them gird themselves with the armor of God, to resist Satan, to take every thought captive, to repent of sins, to pursue holiness, to deny lusts, to love their neighbor, to walk in humility, to do good works, to flee sin, and to stand firm in the faith.

Underneath those commands we must help our children flesh them out in their lives. To speak respectfully, to not burp at the table, to dress lovingly, to pay careful attention to their recreational choices and to express kindness in a thousand ways.

And even more than all that, we must live it, demonstrating the reality of Christ and the power of forgiveness.

We must be faithful. We cannot escape our never-ending obligations.

But still they are the Lord’s. He discipled carefully and faithfully, and still one turned away. God turns the heart and He indwells His children. We must hold both, simultaneously, understood or not, in our hands.

Walking this road with you and finding it often difficult….we keeping walking.

(Thank you, Cathy, for good dialogue that inspired this post ;-))

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Kristen May 15, 2012 - 6:26 pm

You are so right, Kelly. We have been having a lot of problems with our 9 year old boy regarding a sin issue that has really taken hold. Yet, God seems to have called me to really battle for this child in prayer and He has shown me Scripture and given me words to give my boy to help him defeat this problem. He’s got a long way to go, but today we had such a wonderful talk about reaping what we sow and how when we sow God’s Word in our hearts we will harvest good fruit. So I think he’s not so resentful about me having him copy and memorize Scripture (he viewed it as punishment) because I referred him to Ps. 119:11-your word have I hidden in my heart, thatI might not sin against You.

Sarah May 16, 2012 - 10:12 am

Thank You so much for sharing your story. I have an 8 year old boy that I am on my knees daily praying for. It seems to be a rough age for boys because a lot of my friends have said they are going through similar things. My son also think memorizing and writing scripture is punishment so I will share the verse in psalm with him 🙂

Carolina May 16, 2012 - 9:13 pm

My 8 yr. old son is making me sad bc he is not compassionate at all and very self centered. I know that I have to be on my knees for him, and also that God can change his heart. But sometimes I get discouraged.

Word Warrior May 16, 2012 - 9:17 pm

Way to stay the course, Kristen. I am on my knees with you.

Cathy May 15, 2012 - 10:14 pm

Good thoughts…I think you left out a word, because no matter how many times I’ve read, “We must it (near the end of the post),” it doesn’t make sense. We must WHAT?? : )

Parenting isn’t for the faint of heart…and I’m faint of heart! But, praise God, He is faithful to give strength, and the perseverance to hang in. Often, I’ve wanted to bag the whole mom thing, but the problem was that there were still so many people calling me “‘Mom”–even when I told them to call me “Aunt Cathy”!) But, I also knew/know that Jesus is the answer for life, and that would propel me to keep at it. Discouragement can set in like rigormortis at times, but sometimes all it takes is some sleep, and then you’re ready to do it again. There were times that I would pray that the couple hours of sleep that I slept would feel like eight. Getting the kids up each morning for devos was a tiring gig, but I would remind myself that my mom did it w/us, and I STILL remember many of the passages we had to memorize. I am nearly finished raising my kids, so I am coming at it from a different perspective, but this would be my advice to all young moms who are interested in raising their kids in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord.” (Eph 6:4)? You’ll be in the trenches for a long time, but do your best, work hard, don’t give up, or in…and trust the results to God. And, as I’ve said, ad nauseum, IF/when your kids still follow the Lord after your parenting, praise God, because it is in spite of you. As Kelly wrote, however, we have a responsibility and a mandate from Scripture to train our kids in the ways of God, so no copping out allowed!

Word Warrior May 15, 2012 - 10:26 pm


LOL! I knew it. I am crazy. I am so ADD, that I went in and edited that sentence and literally walked away without finishing, then came back and forgot what I was doing and hit publish.

Your charge here is some of the best advice I’ve read.

Keri May 16, 2012 - 7:06 am

Great Post Kelly!!

I also loved what Cathy said..”No copping out allowed”.That is really good for me to remember because I am still teaching and training a 16yr.old son and 14 yr.old son.I have four grown kids who thankfully love the Lord and serve him..in spite of the mistakes we have made.
My biggest advice to mom’s in the midst of it all..and I will try to make it simple and to the point..lol

Prayer!!..it’s huge!! Pray scripture over your kids when you’ve prayed everything else for them..spiritual needs..emotional needs..physical needs..I’m reminding myself here also.It seems like when things are going well that I don’t pray as much..anybody else do that?

Scripture Memory!! Parents and kids!! My husband has done a much better job of this then me and it has paid off as my kids have grown up.I’m working on it big time!!

DO NOT BE AN ANGRY MOM!! Oh boy..I could go on forever about this.I thought..haha..I didn’t have a problem with this but then something happened about five years ago and wow!!..did it come out!
I really think the Lord let it happen to teach me about anger and how it destroy’s families.Do not let your kids be angry at each other.Help them to resolve problems.I almost lost my oldest daughter due to my anger.This is a really huge one and one we have to take serious..Our anger is never justified!

Love God with All Our Soul!!..this really should be first but it is so hard to do.One of our missionaries from our church spoke on this Sunday night and boy did it hit me hard!It sounds so easy and should be but I let so many things keep me busy or get in the way.I’m going to be honest here and tell you that I went to the altar to repent of not loving him like this(there were lots of us who had gone to the altar)and I turned around to leave and saw my 16 yr.old son at the altar and just about lost it.I have never seen him go to the altar..and what a Great reminder for me to not cop out as a parent.Sometimes I get tired and I know I slack off having been at it for so long..and I was so reminded to Keep At It!!

So thanks Kelly..for putting up another post to remind us Mom’s and make us think about once again what is so important!!

Word Warrior May 16, 2012 - 9:17 pm

Great encouragement, as always, Keri!

Brittany May 16, 2012 - 7:19 am

This is a wonderful post Kelly. Yes, training our children by teaching them God’s word is so very important and setting an example by living it goes hand-in-hand. You simply cannot tell a child to ~do what I say, not what I do~ and expect them to respect what you are teaching them. God gives the parents such an important role in teaching them about Him when they are young.

6 arrows May 16, 2012 - 7:25 am

I’ve been a mom for 22 years, having raised two of my children to adulthood, and have four to go (a long ways to go with my 4-year-old 😉 ). I’m seeing now how important it is to give one’s children a thorough grounding in the faith during their growing-up years, so that they may own their faith and have a rich relationship with Jesus already established when challenges in life come along.

My oldest daughter, who turned 19 this week, found out yesterday that she most likely has a benign tumor on her pituitary gland. She’s scheduled for an MRI tomorrow for verification/further exploration.

She and I have had good opportunity to talk yesterday and today not only about medical issues, but more importantly about matters of faith, the “fleshing out”, as you say, Kelly, of what it means to walk as a child of God, trusting in Him alone at all times.

We talked about our first line of defense being prayer and relationship with God through the Word. It is entirely to God’s glory that our daughter is firm in her faith, and is quite calm and secure in where she stands right now. That peace didn’t come from this mom, whose hands are shaking as I type this!

Moms, be diligent to tirelessly train your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. It is a beautiful thing to watch what the Lord does in the lives of His children as they grow up into Him.

Lisa May 16, 2012 - 8:11 am

Thank you Kelly! This was much needed this morning. 🙂

Kim M May 16, 2012 - 9:20 am

Very encouraging!

Ruth Adams May 16, 2012 - 2:11 pm

So true!

Carolina May 16, 2012 - 6:00 pm

Something fun here: “Before I got married I had 6 theories about bringing up children; now I have 6 children and no theories” (John Walmot).

Heather Anderson May 16, 2012 - 7:54 pm

This is a profound truth that I hope many young parents can hear. I think that early on I believed that if I did steps A, B, and C then the kids should turn out right. But that doesn’t factor in a whole bunch of things, including but not limited to God’s sovereignty, our own fallen nature, a child’s unique personality and even circumstances of life. That doesn’t mean, as you stated, that we shouldn’t do A, B, and C, but the actions should be done with prayer. We need to be seeking the Lord for direction and wisdom, not a system. Thanks for sharing posts with meaning that are thought provoking.

Brittany May 17, 2012 - 8:10 am


I thought you might really enjoy reading this post I saw today.
It was so inspiring and true.


Word Warrior May 17, 2012 - 9:10 am


I did enjoy that! As I was reading that comment by the lady who grew up so poor, I couldn’t help think of how many children have even been aborted because “I couldn’t afford another child”. “Poverty” hasn’t caused nearly the problems that discontentment has.


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