So for those of you who don’t follow me (Jess) over at my personal blog, you may be unaware that I haven’t recently self published my very first book. (Due for release mid June, you can pre-order a copy here).
Since doing that, I’ve been answering lots of questions about what is the book about, what is it’s purpose and so forth, and the one question that has really struck me is this: What’s the difference between Christian Parenting, and normal parenting?
Asked, by a non-Christian.
It’s a good question really? Is there a difference? I guess there should be, but what is it? As I started to talk about an extra emphasis on morality and the reason why, I felt like I was missing something.
The quest for moral children is not just confined to the Christian faith. There are many people of all differing belief systems, (or not), who aim for a high level of morality in their child rearing. And just recently I spoke to someone who had had the most horrific of child hoods, and even she said her parents were fastidious with teaching manners and a basic respect.
Even if they never practiced it.
Besides that, we’ve all seen beautifully behaved children from absolutely terrible families, and then some absolute little horrors from those Christian homes as well.
So Christian parenting is not that different at least in that respect.
Do Christians enforce a higher standard than their unbelieving friends?
Do we emphasise different qualities as important and un-negotiable?
Do we honour virtues such as honesty and kindness and respect for elders as a standard that must be maintained?
Of course we do.
But that in itself does not make us different from the rest of the world. It probably just makes us a little bit different from the person across the street.
So what then, is Christian parenting?
Why should there be books on it, and why did I, of all people write one?
One simple difference.
What we do today, has repercussions for forever.
Years ago, when I was an idealistic teen, I wrote a production called Jesus in Jeans, which was a modern view of the crucifixion story. We made a mechanised foam, denim cross, that travelled down the aisle, and then was lifted to the stage.
Right in the centre of the T, there was a Velcro’d bit of denim that was removed to read a sign underneath.
Right where the body of our Lord and Saviour would have rested.
A black sign, with florescent pink writing, that would shine under the black lights with brilliance, reading that one word: Eternity.
Our God is an eternal God. He always has been, and always will be. When everything else will fail and become nothing, he will remain always the same.
Constant and perfect and impervious to natural decay.
He is forever.
And He has created us in His image. We were meant to live forever with Him, following Him, and having relationship with Him. Jesus’ death on the cross was not so we could hang out with him for a few years on earth before our bodies turned to dust in the ground. His view was big picture in the extreme; he was dying for an eternity with us.
His focus was always on the future and what would come, and as Christian’s it’s imperative that our focus be the same. Eternity is not something that happens after your dead and buried. Eternity is now. Today is the first day of the rest of our lives and beyond.
How we live today, has the potential to change our’s or someone else’s forever.
So bringing it back to parenting; eternity is the difference. Yes as Christian parents there will be days when we do not like our offspring very much, and would just like to write that time period off the calendar. There will be times when we just enjoy the moment, and focus on the good, or possibly pull ourselves through the hard and depressing.
But most of the time, our focus needs to be on the future. Not just the immediate future (as in how quickly can I get this kid to bed so that I can have some time to myself), but the eternal future.
Considering how our words and actions are influencing that child, and what kind of eternity will they have?
Will they see the truth of the gospel in our lives, and long for that more than anything?
Or will they wonder what the point is and chase their own ambitions?
But even more crucial to the point; will they be the kind of people who see the value in living their life with an eternity mindset? The type of children who grow and want nothing more than to fulfil the great commission set by their Saviour, because they realise that everyone should have what they do.
That everyone should have what we do.
Eternity is the difference.
Jess blogs at EssentiallyJess