How in the world did people parent before the days of social media?
I mean, seriously…
Where did they get birthday party ideas?
And how did they manage to distract themselves with completely inane facts about the lives of their acquaintances while looking for birthday party ideas?
And where did they post pictures of the aforementioned birthday party ideas brought to fruition?
In all seriousness, it’s pretty shocking to step back and consider how quickly social media has become ingrained in our lives. And while there are some benefits (hello, birthday party ideas!), there’s one glaring drawback: we have countless standards by which to judge ourselves.
If it’s not Pinterest-perfect, I might just cry about it. If it’s not Instagram-worthy, it’s not even worth remembering. If my life, my figure, my walk with God, my marriage, my children, my job, my home, my church, my ministry, my anything-under-the-sun doesn’t compare with hers, it won’t be long before I find myself despairing.
Social media has made it particularly hard for parents. We have a daunting task on our hands and we already battle the inner voice of our own self-condemning hearts.
We know the stakes are high. The assignment is weighty. How am I really measuring up?
Change Your Standard
As a Christian, you have the freedom to say “NO!” to the standards imposed by social media.
They’re false standards anyway, bartering false confidence at the expense of a few measly “likes” by people whose opinions might matter for now, but they hold no weight whatsoever for eternity.
The one opinion that really matters belongs to the One who entrusted children to us in the first place: our Heavenly Father. And thankfully, He has a lot to say in His Word about His standards for good parents.
Curious about them? Here are 12 self-assessment questions to consider from the Bible.
12 Self-Assessment Questions for Christian Parents
1. Is the Christian faith a regular part of our daily conversation?
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” (Deuteronomy 6:5-7)
2. Do I offer regular opportunities for my children to worship God?
“Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering and come before him! Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.” (1 Chronicles 16:29)
3. Does my speech serve the purpose of building up my children?
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” (Ephesians 4:29)
4. Am I teaching obedience by modeling it and requiring it?
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” (Ephesians 6:1)
5. Do I demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit in my life, and in my parenting?
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23)
6. Do I avoid exasperating my children with standards that are too high?
“Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.” (Colossians 3:21)
7. Does my conduct towards my kids reflect love?
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)
8. Do I pray for my children and trust God with them, enabling me to live free of worry about them?
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
9. Have I put away anger?
“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.” (Ephesians 4:31)
10. Is my discipline corrective, instead of punitive?
“For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:11)
11. Do I point my children toward the gospel when they sin?
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
12. Do I view my children as blessings from God?
“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.” (Psalm 127:3)
Do you fall short in some of these areas? Great! That means you’re 100% human and 100% eligible to be a recipient of God’s grace in your parenting. Here are some action steps to get you started:
A Plan for Growth in Grace
1. Focus on YOUR relationship with God.
These Scriptures aren’t meant to be a battering ram that drives us to despair. They’re meant to guide us toward godly parenting while at the same time reminding us that we’re utterly incapable of it on our own. If we want to model our parenting after our Heavenly Father, our first priority must be intimacy with Him.
2. Confess sin to God, AND to your children, when appropriate.
It’s easy to find justification for our sins. We whitewash them by calling them struggles or weaknesses or difficulties, and we find plenty of support for that in our culture and even among well-meaning loved ones who can relate.
But freedom from sin begins with agreeing with God that it is, in fact, sin, and then asking forgiveness from Him and from those impacted by our sin (which is often our kids).
3. Receive God’s forgiveness.
Did you know that you don’t have to forgive yourself for your sinful patterns in parenting? Believe it or not, you won’t find that concept in the Bible.
Instead, you need only to believe that God meant what He said in 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” If you’ve confessed your sins, then claim His promised forgiveness and cleansing, and move forward.
4. Go to God daily (and sometimes hourly!) for grace and wisdom.
Trying to do this parenting thing on our own is nothing short of pride. Not only does it destine us to failure, it actually puts us in a position of opposition against God.
There’s nothing more powerful than taking our burdens to God and asking for His provision and help.
5. Focus on one area of growth at a time.
We shared twelve assessment questions because we wanted this to be thorough and helpful, but it’s typically not very productive to change multiple habits at one time.
Consider which area would make the most difference in your life and in the life of your family. Which sin is most burdensome? Which one is the most problematic for your spouse and children? Tackle that one area for a few months, then move on to the one that will have the next-highest impact.
6. Memorize Scripture.
When you’ve chosen one area to target, select several portions of Scripture that address the sin in question. Choose some that discuss the vice, and some that discuss the corresponding virtue. For example, if you’re focusing on anger, you’ll want to find some verses that talk about anger or wrath, and some others that talk about patience or gentleness.
Don’t skimp on this: the Word of God is living and powerful, and it will change your heart when you persevere in applying it. (Psalm 119:11)
7. Enlist the help of others.
Share your goals with your spouse and your children.
It takes a hefty dose of humility, but it will set a powerful example for your children about the importance of community when it comes to Christian living. Ask them to remind you if they observe you getting off track and to encourage you when they notice improvement. It may also be helpful to seek advice and/or accountability from a Christian friend or church leader depending on the nature and extent of your sinful pattern.
Few things in life reveal our need for God’s grace the way parenting does. Thankfully, He promises that His grace will always be enough, and that His strength is actually made perfect in our weakness (especially if it’s not Instagram worthy).