What is the goal of parenting? And what informs our goal for parenting?

Is it to raise obedient children who make us look good, like we’ve got everything figured out and under control, including our children? Or maybe the goal is to provide our children with every opportunity and experience we possibly can to ensure their success and happiness?

Over the decades, experts, opinions and parenting strategies have come and gone. Nothing has ever really stuck and withstood the test of time. So why don’t we model our parenting after the Perfect Father? The One who never waivers or changes. The One who has offered freedom of choice, freedom to make mistakes, opportunity to learn from our choices and endless love and grace?

What if we modeled the purpose of parenting and principles of parenting after God’s approach with us? God wants love-based obedience from us, and we should want the same from our children.

Love-based obedience is the product of a loving relationship. This kind of relationship needs parents to be leaders but also requires them to be filled with love and empathy. It’s a relationship that offers grace, like the one we receive through Jesus Christ.

Love-based obedience also requires the gift of freedom. We must allow children to practice making decisions, allow them to make mistakes and experience the consequences of their decisions when the “cost” is small. Children build maturity through their struggles, not through watching their parents control their environment and protect them from the pain of their consequences.

When children experience the consequences of their own decisions, they need acceptance and empathy, not the consequence or punishment we assign following their bad decision.

Ultimately, we desire our children to experience a life filled with righteousness and peace through the decisions that they make. We don’t want our children to live a life of turmoil because they didn’t learn life’s lessons when it was affordable. Decision making is paramount to the development of our child’s life and faith.

So, who is your child’s savior? If we protect our children from the real life consequences of their choices, we might be acting as our child’s savior. If we tell our children what, how and when to do everything, we might be our child’s savior.

The danger is paving a comfortable, struggle-free path for our children. They may never come to the conclusion that they need the true Savior. They may have been taught that all they really need is us telling them what to do and solving their problems for them.

Bottom line, allowing our children to practice making decisions when they are young and the consequences are small is a life and death matter. Allowing our children to make the connection between cause and effect prepares them for the big decisions later when the price is big.

This includes the decision about where they will spend eternity.