Yesterday, if you were to tell me that the parenting handbook is the Bible I would roll my eyes and have to try hard not to kick you in the shin.

I am the mother of two beautiful tween boys.  That means that I’ve got one boy in braces and headgear and one who plays hormonal roulette with me every moment of every day.   I find myself longing for a handbook that tells me how to comfort a sweet boy in pain, physically and emotionally. I would give you my life savings and sell my hair for a guide that tells me how to talk to a boy who rejects every word out of my mouth. Gentle words don’t change the actions I want to change.  Harsh words don’t either.  No amount of incentives or punishment can make my kid make better decisions.

It’s the same as when they were toddlers.  There was no way to tell my kid he needed a nap in a way that would make him believe that mom knew best and everything would be better after a rest.  When will I learn that I can’t control my children? No mom can.

I have been at my wits’ end with the hormones, and back talk, and bad choices in the last month. I fear that reminding my kid that God’s Spirit lives inside of him and will guide him to better decisions, will make him doubt that he ever truly committed his life to Jesus.  Or worse yet, think that each bad decision is a reason why he should doubt or reject God altogether. I fear that every command I give him will make him think I am micromanaging his life and make him rebel even further.  I fear that not telling him the way he should behave will be failing to do my job and result in a spoiled delinquent.

So last night after a long email from a teacher explaining her concern for my son’s grades and behavior, I had no idea what to do. But when I am lost, I pray and go to scripture. I started thinking about all of the Bible verses I know about parenting:

“Honor your father and mother…” from Exodus 20:12 and Ephesians 6:2

“Spare the rod, spoil the child.” Which is a modern day proverb based off of many scriptures: Proverbs 13:24, Proverbs 23:13, Proverbs 22:15, Proverbs 10:13, and Proverbs 29:15. 

That’s all I had, then I started to think about the verses I have made my kids memorize like:

“Do everything without complaining or arguing…” Philippians 2:14

and

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord…” Colossians 3:23

These verses I have made into demands that I’ve pushed onto my kids more than loving truths that are good for life.

As I continued to pray and seek God’s word on how to parent well, God brought up other verses that were for me, more than for my kids:

“Do not worry about tomorrow…” Matthew 6:25-34 Don’t you think that God cares more about our kids than we do?

Emily, “Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry…” James 1:19

and

“Do not aggravate your children, or they will become discouraged.” Colossians 3:21

Discouraged.  That one broke my heart a bit.

God, I have been forcing my will, not yours on my children, hoping along the way that it would point them to you. I have tried to be in control of their lives. I know I will never be able to control them.  Like you have loved me, I must love my children and let them make their own decisions.  God, remind me that my job is not failed if my kids disobey, because my job is not to make them rigid rule followers.  You have given me a job description in Deuteronomy 6:4-9, to teach my kids to love the lord our God with all of our heart, soul, and strength.  This I have done and will continue to do with gentleness, because that is the way you have loved me.  Giving me grace after grace with new mercies each morning

Oh as cheesy as it sounds, the answers to my parenting woes are in the Bible. There are examples of good parents and bad throughout the Bible, but none compare to the way God parents us. So I’ll end with this prayer that on the best days and the worst days, my heart is moved and changed when I pray this for my boys:

May the Lord bless and keep you;

The Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you;

The Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace. 

Numbers 6:24-26