For some reason, this book has escaped my radar until now. I only discovered ‘Parenting Is Your Highest Calling’ And 8 Other Myths That Trap Us Into Worry and Guilt because it was required reading for our Empowered to Connect train-the-trainer course. Wow, I’m so glad it was part of the syllabus! It has easily become one of my favorite non-adoption parenting books, and I’ll be suggesting it to everyone! Though many of the topics weren’t revolutionary, they were incredibly insightful and reminded me of many truths that are easy to forget while doing life. One of the topics actually made me completely re-think what it means to be a “good mom.” I’ll briefly describe my takeaways from the 9 myths the author, Leslie Fields, addresses in the book:
1. Having Children Makes You Happy and Fulfilled. I don’t know about you, but there are times when parenting is just downright hard and sometimes … well, sometimes not fun. It’s wonderful and amazing and rewarding plenty of the time, too. But, my children aren’t supposed to simply bring me joy or complete my life. That is sometimes a very happy result of parenting, but it’s not the reason God gave me children. As Christians, we parent our children to fulfill God’s will in our lives and in theirs. Our children teach us how to love and how to depend on the Father, to be humble servants. These truths free us to parent faithfully, not simply to parent happily and to be fulfilled.
2. Nurturing Your Children Is Natural And Instinctive. I am inadequate to love unconditionally like Jesus, because I’m sinful and can’t possibly measure up. All Christians fall short of the glory of God, in all aspects of our lives. That includes nurturing our children in a natural and instinctive way. Loving children is hard because parenting calls us to do more than we are capable of. Expecting this kind of sacrificial love to be natural and instinctive is simply unrealistic. Of course it’s hard, and it forces us to rely on Jesus even more.
3. Parenting Is Your Highest Calling. At this stage in my life, when most of my day involves parenting, it’s easy for me to get caught up in this myth. But as a Christian, my highest calling isn’t to parent my children. As a Christian, my highest calling is to be a follower of Jesus and to glorify Him through my life. If parents pursue God first, we are free to love our children in a way that glorifies Him.
4. Good Parenting Leads To Happy Children. God’s foremost concern for His children isn’t happiness. It’s holiness. We were made in the image of God to be set apart. To be holy. And as we work toward our holiness, we find happiness by letting go of the sins that weigh us down. That happiness comes from knowing that we stand perfect and complete in front of God because of Jesus’ sacrifice for us. This is the kind of happiness that I desire for my children – happiness attained through holiness.
5. If You Find Parenting Difficult, You Must Not Be Following The Right Plan. Our easy access to all of the new parenting plans, tips, tricks, and fool-proof methods makes parenting completely overwhelming. Which technique is the best, most correct way? The Bible makes it clear there’s no one, perfect way to parent our children. “Godly parenting begins not in the rules we or other people make for our children but in pursuing a genuine relationship with God … Knowing God and depending on Him is the beginning of Godly parenting.” (p.115)
6. You Represent Jesus To Your Children. This is one that I know, in my heart. But sometimes it’s harder to remember it logically. I cannot possibly be Jesus to my children. There’s only one Jesus and I can’t come close. So why do I get caught up in trying to be like Him for my children? It is completely beyond me. It’s just a recipe for failure and guilt, because I can never measure up. No earthly parent can.
7. You Will Always Feel Unconditional Love For Your Children. We have many emotional responses to our children because we love them so much and want the best for them. It’s normal to feel love and adoration, as well as anger and impatience. And sometimes, our negative feelings toward our children are caused by our own sinful nature. We feel many different emotions for our children, and can even feel guilty about the not-so-nice ones. But we can see in scripture that loving others doesn’t always feel good – even God himself was angry with His children at times.
8. Successful Parents Produce Godly Children. This one rocked my world because, of course, my desire for my children is that they will lead a life that follows and glorifies God. So it would make sense to me that successful and “good” parenting produces Godly children. Leslie Fields completely reshaped my thinking on this one though. Successful parenting isn’t about the Godly outcomes of my children’s lives, though I am certainly hopeful for that. It’s about me and my faithfulness in living out my calling as a child of my One True Father. It’s about parenting faithfully as I influence them, and releasing the outcomes of their lives to Him.
9. God Approves Of Only One Family Design. The one and only perfect earthly family didn’t stay perfect for long. Adam and Eve quickly disobeyed God, and the rest of Biblical history is filled with imperfect families as well. Fortunately, God loves and works through all of His people, no matter their mistakes. He does not approve of only some people who fit a specific “perfect Christian family” description. We can be free in knowing that He loves all of us, no matter our family design.
Aren’t these 9 myths thought-provoking? I challenge you to read the whole book to fully soak up the Biblical truths that Leslie Fields writes about. Her book will encourage you, and help you rest in the promise that God holds our children in His hands, no matter what our parenting mistakes may be.