An article in U.S. News and World Report, called “The Real Cost of Raising Kids”. reported with all the different figures and amounts, the total comes to $1,455,581.00! That’s a lot! If you have a daughter, she will cost 18% more which is about $1, 717, 586.
The financial costs of kids are high but the emotional costs are higher. Parenting is an emotional roller coaster. Up and down! One minute you’re so proud of them you can hardly wait to hug them. The next minute you want to ring their neck!
A number of years ago James Dobson wrote a book called Parenting Isn’t for Cowards. I totally agree. Nothing compares — no job, no career, can possibly compare to the awesome responsibility of raising a human being. It is not by accident that the beginning of the parenting process is a thing called labor! It’s tough being a parent. Its on the job training. The trouble with parenting is just about the time you get experienced at it, you’re unemployed.
I don’t want you to think I have this figured out. I am a fellow struggler. Before Niki and I got married, I had three great theories on parenting and no kids. I now have three kids and no great theories on parenting.
Where do you go for help? Who do you look to when you need help and advice on parenting?
There is only one parent who has ever been perfect in history. That’s your Heavenly Father. Matthew 5:48 “Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect.” God is the model parent. I know I can complicate parenting too much. I believe you can be a great parent! The simple secret– Treat your kids the way God treats you.
Let’s look at what God is like and then draw from that some applications for parenting:
Accept Their Uniqueness
I have to recognize and value my kid’s individuality. Every single child in your family is different and unique. They are not alike. Even twins are not alike.
The Bible tells us that God intentionally makes everyone different. The reason that God makes us all different is that the world would be incredibly boring if He made us all the same.
One of the tasks of parenting is helping your child or children realize that they are unique, that don’t have to compare themselves to anybody else, they don’t have to measure up to anybody else, they don’t have to be like anybody else, they are an original and God doesn’t intend for them to be a carbon copy. They are unique. Just like no two snowflakes are alike, no two people are alike. They are not in competition with anybody else.
This is a very lt task for us as parents to teach our kids that they are unique because there are a competing pressure in the world:
The pressure of comparing. In America, we have made comparing a science. In this competitive environment, we compare everything — how we look, our clothes, our cars, our homes, our intelligence, our background, social and economic status, as if it really matters. You are unique and nobody can be like you so why compare?
Like IQ test’s. We now know that there are many different kinds of intelligence, not just the kind that the IQ tests evaluate. Some kids have artistic intelligence and they’re really good at some kind of art or music. Others of us couldn’t carry a tune in a bag and can’t paint stick figures. There are others that have numeric intelligence, they’re good with numbers. Others of us can’t add six plus five! Others have mechanical intelligence and they’re good at mechanical things. Others have theoretical intelligence and they’re good at dealing with theory and abstract things. Some people have innate relational intelligence. They intuitively know how to relate to people. They’re a jump ahead of the rest of us, socially. They intuitively feel where people are coming from.
So when IQ tests simply judge one form of intelligence and leaves out the six or seven other kinds of intelligence that they have now identified, it’s just an arbitrary judgment. The Bible says that since we are all unique, we should not compare ourselves. Galatians 6:4 “Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else.” Don’t compare yourself to others; just be proud of what you yourself have done as an individual.
How can you tell, as a parent, when you’ve accepted your kid’s uniqueness? Simple: You stop insisting that they be like you. As parents, God made us in His image, and now we want to make our kids in our image. So we say either overtly or covertly, “You need to be like me. You need to think like I think. You need to like the things that I like. What I like, you should like. The interests I have, you should have. The hobbies I like, why aren’t you interested in these hobbies? The things I was good at in school, you should be good at in school. The areas I was good at in athletic ability, you should be good at athletically. Or even worse, You should be better.” Parents pressure their kids to be Little Moms and Dads. The message comes through loud and clear to the kids, I can’t be myself. The only way I get love, acceptance, approval is to be like Mom/Dad. That’s what they’re expecting.
Our goal in parenting is not to mold kids into our image. Our goal is to help them discover what God made them to be, into His image.
One of the most misunderstood verses in the Bible is Proverbs 22:6 “Train a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not turn from it.” They think it’s a promise and they think what it means is this: If you raise your kid in a godly, spiritual way then they’ll always be a Christian. Or, if you raise your kid in a Christian way, they may fall away for a while but they’ll eventually come back because God promises “Train us a child in the way he is old he will not turn from it.” That’s not always true.
In the first place, this is not a promise. This is a proverb. It comes from the book of Proverbs. Proverbs are generalized statements about life that are generally true about life. Secondly, you need to understand what the phrase “way he should go.” It does not mean Christian doctrine or the Ten Commandments or the Christian way of life. It means his inborn temperament. That’s what the Hebrew word means. Your child’s inborn temperament, they natural bent, their style, the way they naturally go. Some kids are naturally introverts and some kids are naturally extroverts. You’re never going to turn an introvert into an extrovert no matter how hard you try. You’re never going to take an extrovert and calm them down. They’re wired by God that way.
The Bible says “train a child in his natural bent, in his shape, in his normal temperament, the way he was meant to be.” If he was made to be an artist, you don’t force him to be a football player. If he was made to be a musician, you don’t force him to be a doctor. Understanding your children is very important. God says your goal is not to force them into a mold. The Amplified version of this verse says, “Train a child in keeping with his individual gift or bent.”
The world only needs one of you! One of you is enough. One of me is enough. God doesn’t intend for one of my kids to be duplicates of me. He has a whole different plan, goal, dream, desire for their life than He has for my life. I need to understand that.
In God’s sovereignty, He chose to make your kids the way they are. God wired them up in a way that you had nothing to do with. You didn’t have any choice in picking out your kid’s natural bent or natural temperament. God used your DNA and the DNA of your spouse but He chose which genes would be dominate, He chose which genes would be receptive, He made those kids just the way He made them — not like you but the way He wanted to make them when He uniquely decided to put them in your family.
When you look at your child and they’re acting in a way that is so foreign to you that you want to say, “What planet did you get off of?” you need to trust God’s wisdom and realize that God knew exactly what they needed and God knew exactly what you needed and put you together in what’s called a family. You’ve got to trust God
The first step is to Accept them as God’s gift to you. You cannot bring out the best iny your kids until you first accept their uniqueness.
In the next post we’ll look at Affirming our kids and showing them their value.