Unpopular Parenting

johnstudy1Oh, the advice, admonitions, and warnings I received when our daughter was young, and often from people who had very little day-to-day contact with us. Their biggest complaint? That I sheltered her too ashpics-page-001much. And in every accusation came the unspoken statement: You’re messing her up. Not doing it right. As a mom, you’re failing.

Perhaps you’ve felt that. Maybe you feel that now. Maybe you’re doing everything you believe God is calling you to do, and no one else gets that. No one else gets you and what God has called you to.

But stay strong. Stay focused. And stay pliable–to Christ. Because Mama, He’s got this.

When our daughter was youngisaiah40-11verse, I held tight to Isaiah 40:11: “He will feed His flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in His arms, holding them close to His heart. He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young” (NLT).

God proved the truth of those words day by day, year by year, as my husband and I raised our daughter. Fast forward a decade-plus later, and most of those same people that once felt such a need to “advise me” now give me accolades. Because they see the results. They see my daughter as God has always seen her, for when He looked at her, He saw what she could become. (Eph. 2:10, Psalm 139:16)

What they didn’t see, what they didn’t know, was that I spent hours upon hours praying for that precious child, for God to show me her heart, and to help me parent uniquely to her. 

Because no one knows the heart of my child like her Creator. 

Can you imagine the flack Elizabeth and Zechariah probably experienced? To give some background, after a painful bout of infertility, an angel appears to Zechariah to tell him he and his wife will have a child. More than that, this precious child would grow to be the forerunner, the divinely appointed herald, for the long awaited Christ. (Luke 1:5-17)

Wow. Talk about overwhelming!

Not only was he to proclaim the coming of Christ, but verse 15 suggests he was to be raised as a Nazarite*. A Nazarite was someone set apart to serve God, and there were numerous rules they had to follow. This might have seemed cool, until their son started wearing camel hair clothing and eating locusts.

Can you imagine what the neighbors said? The looks Zechariah and Elizabeth received? The community well, where all the women gathered, had to a buzz with gossip.

“I think this whole angel thing was made up.”

“His parents are taking this whole ‘called by God’ thing way too seriously.”

I don’t know what life was like for this precious family, as they sought to raise their child in the way God had commanded them. But I do know parenting is tough, in any time period. In today’s relativistic, corrupt, do-what-you-please-and-take-what-you-can culture, Christ-centered parenting seems strange. Confining. Sheltering.

Until you fast forward ten or so years, and you see the results of every word spoken, every decision, every intentional interaction. Each day, we’re either equipping our children to live out their calling or we’re adding noise. Potentially even getting in their way–in God’s way.

The choice is ours.

It’s not an easy call. In fact, it’s by far the hardest and most significant child-818439_1920job we will ever have. But we don’t have to do it alone. Our Savior is always walking beside us, whispering in our ear, “Whether you turn to the right or the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it'” (Isaiah 30:21 NIV).

The question is: are we listening? Is His voice the loudest, the clearest, that we hear?

Can you share a time when you knew God was calling you to something but others didn’t understand? Are you a parent or grandparent? What are some of your greatest parenting struggles? What ways to try to parent to your child/grandchild’s heart?

Share your thoughts, examples, and insights with us in the comments below, because we can all learn from each other.

*Note: Some scholars believe John’s parents might have died some time during his early years and that he may have been raised, largely, by a Jewish group called the Essenes.

About Jennifer Slattery

Jennifer Slattery is a writer, speaker, and ministry leader who’s addressed women’s groups, church groups, Bible studies, and writers across the nation. She’s the author of twelve contemporary novels and one of the hosts of the Faith Over Fear podcast. She has a passion for helping women discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she and her team partner with churches to facilitate events designed to help women rest in their true worth and live with maximum impact. When not writing, reading, or editing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband. Visit her online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com or follow her on Twitter at @JenSlattery.
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1 Response to Unpopular Parenting

  1. Pingback: Loving the Weird in Our Kids | Jennifer Slattery Lives Out Loud

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