Five Parenting Myths I Used to Believe

There are five parenting myths I believed that were harmful and wrongheaded

“Prior to the birth of the first of my three daughters, I assumed that I would struggle early as a Dad, but eventually figure out what I was doing. Instead, what I’ve found is that the moment I think I know what I’m doing will be followed by a reminder that I have a long way to go.”

 

Most of my weekdays follow a similar pattern. I take the scenic route home from work and turn the radio off when I cross the highway five minutes from my house. In the silence, I ask God to help me stay fully invested in my family when I get home. Some days, the front door flies open as I pull into the driveway and some combination of my four children greet me before I can get out of the car. Other days, I walk to the front door, pause for a moment, and open it, having no idea what may greet me on the other side.

The few hours between arriving home from work and putting the kids to bed will be the most challenging, and often the most rewarding, of my day. Raising children frequently brings me face to face with my own ignorance, foolishness, and inadequacies. My children presented me with problems I never anticipated, disobey in ways I never imagined, and bless me in ways I only dared to dream.

Prior to the birth of the first of my three daughters, I assumed that I would struggle early as a Dad, but eventually figure out what I was doing. Instead, what I’ve found is that the moment I think I know what I’m doing will be followed by a reminder that I have a long way to go. Like every difficult thing in the world, the rewards of parenting help me weather the challenges. The hugs, the laughs, the smiles, and the blessing of seeing my kids grow dwarf the sometimes-heartbreaking realities that accompany raising children. To experience the good times, I first had to abandon some ridiculous preconceived notions and myths I believed about parenting.

There are five parenting myths I believed that were harmful and wrongheaded.

Good Parenting Always Leads to Well-Behaved Children

At some point along the way I imbibed a popular understanding of the proverb that says “Train a child up in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” The Bible generally ties the direction of our children’s lives to parenting, but it never promises that good parenting will certainly produce obedient children.

When we read a proverb that holds out an incentive for wise behavior, we should remember that Job is just a couple of books before Proverbs. Aside from Jesus, who in Scripture embodied wisdom like Job did? Yet, he suffered all the calamities that Proverbs says will fall on a fool. We live in a world that is broken by sin, have an enemy who longs to test us as he did Job, live in a fallen world where the pull of sin is dressed up to look like the rewards of wisdom, and dwell in sinful flesh that drags us towards the sin that so easily entangles us. Things in this world don’t often turn out the way they should, so we must remember that even a perfect job of parenting would need God’s grace to make it effective.

While I have needed to remember this so my expectations are not too high, it has also been an encouragement to me. When my children disobey, I often want to blame myself because I think they would be more obedient if I was a better parent. While I never need to stop growing as a Christian and a father, I must also understand that sometimes my children are just set on disobedience. They stand in need of correction and discipline, but their disobedience is often not tied to some deficiency in my parenting.

Family Devotion is My Main Teaching Time

We love our family devotions. They can descend into chaos since I have a chatty four-year-old daughter and a two-year-old son who acts like a two-year-old boy at all the wrong times. Despite the craziness, when we read the Bible, pray, and sing together, some great things can happen.

When I look at the amount of time we spend in family devotions compared to the time we spend on other activities, it becomes obvious that devotions cannot be the primary time I teach my children. Some of the things we talk about in family devotion seem to stick with them, but they remember much more of what we talk about in everyday conversations.

The Bible talks like this, doesn’t it? In Deuteronomy 6, Moses told parents in Israel to talk about the things of God with their children as they sat in the house or walked by the way. He anticipated the amount of time we would spend doing mundane activities together and prescribed a course of using these opportunities to talk with them about the most important things in the world. Continue reading…