I had the privilege of finishing up Sacred Parenting by Gary Thomas this week. I don’t know why it took ten years of parenting for me to pick this one up, because it is exceptional. I started it a few months back shortly after we arrived home from China but just didn’t have the time to finish it. Over the last week, I opened it up every chance I could get! The inside pages are covered with my reading notes. They are filled with nuggets of information that I want to burn into my memory so I can preach them to myself during the hard days. Or just the everyday days. Not adoption-related, all Christian parents will glean wisdom from this book. Thomas shares humbly about the sanctification process of parenting. He explains that the Father uses our children to teach us about grace, forgiveness, patience, perseverance, and love. He discusses how our children shape and mold us, and he offers a deeper understanding of the spiritual journey of parenting.
For my review, I thought I’d share some of the notes I wrote on the inside pages of the book to help you understand its major points. These are the nuggets of wisdom I want to remember from the book and are written to myself. There is one bullet point for each chapter in chronological order:
- Parenting is sanctifying and purifying. Through our children, the Father shapes and molds me to be more Christ-like.
- We need to allow our children to experience pain and consequences to help them learn and grow. If we protect them from everything, they won’t know how to live.
- We will always make mistakes in parenting. Use the natural feeling of guilt for prayer and to be better parents. Let the guilt point us to God. The Father cares about us just as much as he cares about our children.
- We need to listen to God more and we need to listen to our children more. Pray and then listen to Him. Expect a response. He will help us and give us guidance to parent our children.
- We should delight in our children and be their biggest encouragers. Be joyful and be thankful for their personality traits. Don’t be too serious that we lose sight of rejoicing in the beauty.
- Parenting makes us incredibly vulnerable. But regardless of how scared we may be to let go of control, do what is right. We need to be courageous and remember that the world is ultimately governed by a good and generous God.
- We must face our anger. Seek maturity, not sinlessness. Mature Christians learn to control their anger. We should be reluctant and slow to anger, but remember that righteous anger is not a sin. Even God gets angry sometimes.
- Parenting allows us to become more spiritually mature as we care less about image and more about substance. We learn to care about nurturing and relationship, not about the way we look.
- Parenting is wearisome and requires perseverance. It’s hard. But it’s nothing compared to what we’ve asked of the Father. He’s already done everything 10o times over. We truly learn what He has done for us through the act of parenting difficult children.
- Our lives are brief and insignificant in the grand scheme of life. We need to focus on the most important role we have: leaving a legacy of faith in our children.
- We pass down a spiritual heritage to our children. They mimic us in all ways, so it’s important for us to grow spiritually and resist temptations to give them a good example to follow. We influence them positively and negatively, so we need to be intentional about what is passed on to future generations.
- Parents constantly sacrifice by placing their children’s needs above their own. God sees our sacrifices and they allow us to truly appreciate Jesus’ sacrifices for us.
- Over time, “our care must shift from control to influence.” (Ch 13 pg. 201) As parents, our most important job is to prepare our children for the day they stand alone in front of God and answer only to Him. This should always keep us focused on what’s important. We need to do what we can to ensure our children embrace the Gospel. The Father will finish the work He has started.
I want to keep these reminders at the forefront of my mind as I parent my children every day. I may even post some of them around my house. The wisdom isn’t new. But it’s easy to overlook in the day-to-day of life. It’s easy to forget that the Father sees our hard work and smiles every time we sacrifice for our children or lead them to Him. I want to always be reminded that the parenting journey I’m on is, indeed, sacred.