Good parents may appear to always know what they’re doing. But honest parents will freely admit that they’re usually flying by the seat of their pants. Because, while the Bible is far and away the very best parenting manual, there are a lot of practical things that the Bible doesn’t specifically address.
I wish it told me how to help my 8-year-old stop sucking her thumb.
I wish it told me how to help my teen navigate her last couple of years in high school as she prepares to enter college.
I wish it told me how to help my 11-year-old open up about how he’s feeling.
I wish it told me how to un-spoil the 3-year-old “baby” in the wake of constant doting from older siblings.
Any of these parenting issues (plus countless more) could easily cause anxiety in this mama’s heart. How thankful I am for a God who invites me to cast my every anxiety on Him, because He cares for me! (1 Peter 5:7)
But too often, I struggle to cast burdens like this on the Lord. Aren’t my burdens somewhat…well…petty? Not very important? Certainly not significant enough to warrant bothering the Lord of Hosts. It feels like I should be able to figure them out on my own, using the good sense He gave me.
Surely there’s nothing wrong with that, is there?
The Pride of Self-Reliance
It turns out that casting our anxieties on the Lord isn’t as simple as it first seems, because it requires a hefty dose of what you and I might just be missing in our parenting: humility.
God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
1 Peter 5:6-7
How is humility pertinent to parenting? We often think of humility as the opposite of pride in the context of relationships with other people. But pride in its most basic form is self-reliance. Instead of looking to God for His provision and help, we try to take care of it ourselves.
Before pride puffs itself up above others. Before it insists on its own way, before it demands to be served rather than to serve, pride often appears before God as one who can do just fine on my own.
It may not seem like a big deal to take care of things ourselves, but this kind of pride actually bars us from receiving God’s transforming grace. It positions us, instead, as God’s opponents He actively resists, which ought to be a frightening prospect for Christian parents.
So how can we grow in humility as we parent the kids God has entrusted to us?
How to Parent With Humility
1. Pray every day (because we stink at parenting)
Humility starts with cultivating a day-by-day (sometimes moment-by-moment) awareness of our desperate need for God. It springs from an understanding of the depth of our own lack.
We practice humility when we admit to God how much we need His wisdom, grace, and strength. We practice it when we share with Him that we can’t do this parenting thing on our own, and that we need His help.
2. Stay in God’s Word (because need it just that bad)
Our greatest need in parenting and in all aspects of life is to know God better. To love Him more. And this happens primarily through our time in the Bible.
In just one psalm, we learn that God’s word strengthens the weary soul (119:25); warrants our hope (119:43); grants us freedom (119:45); brings delight (119:47); inspires thanks (119:62); teaches knowledge and good judgment (119:66); and preserves our lives (119:93). These are just a few of the provisions God offers to us through His Word, benefits we’re wise to humbly accept.
3. Acknowledge God’s sovereign protection (because nothing is an accident)
When God answers our prayers, we need to acknowledge that the answer came from Him. It wasn’t a coincidence; it was His provision. It wasn’t just another safe outing; it was His protection.
We show humility when we recognize His hand in our lives.
4. Realize you aren’t in control (because these kids aren’t yours, anyway)
This might just be one of the hardest things of all, but also the most freeing when we finally grasp it: we are not in control. These precious kids we call “ours” aren’t really ours; ultimately, they’re His.
So we must lift our kids to Him with open hands, understanding that He loves them even more than we do, and that He can be trusted with each aspect of their lives. Humility involves relinquishing control to Him (because it has really been His all along).
5. Admit your wrongs (because your kids see right through your facade)
As much as we may want to appear inerrant before our kids, that’s one of the most damaging facades we can put on, because guess what? They see right through it. They know we’re not perfect, and any appearance to the contrary is hypocrisy.
We demonstrate humility when we can admit that we’re wrong.
6. Reveal your own neediness (because someone has to show your kids just how helpless they are)
Do you want your kids to turn to God in their time of need? Then model it for them. It might sound something like this:
“I don’t really know how to help you with this, but I do know we can ask God together for His wisdom.”
“I’m sorry you’re struggling in that relationship. The Bible has a lot to say about friendships. Why don’t we look at it together?”
“I know you’re going through a really hard time right now. Can I pray with you for God’s strength?”
This modeling provides a couple of benefits for your child. Not only does it demonstrate how to freely go to God with our needs, but it also offers the opportunity for your child to see God at work. And there aren’t many more powerful lessons than that.
It might seem counterintuitive, but you don’t have to have all the answers, and you don’t always have to look like you know what you’re doing.
Isn’t that a relief?
Let’s lower the mask, and instead choose to invite God’s grace by humbly relying on Him instead of ourselves.