A Prayer Worth Shaping Your Parenting Around

The other day, my youngest daughter, Alexa (age 2), reached out and pulled Kenna to the ground by her hair, then attempted to bite her on the arm. I promptly (but calmly) carried her upstairs to her crib for a prolonged time out and firmly told her that biting and pulling hair are not OK. After her time out, she apologized to Kenna and we went on with our day.

If we could rewind to when Kenna and Nathan were 2, just 21 months ago, I would be describing a vastly different response to a hair pulling and biting episode. If I’m honest, it would have sounded like this:

Kenna bit Nathan. I picked her up immediately, angrily told her that she will NEVER bite Nathan again, and that she would have to have a spanking for hurting her brother. I spanked her, then put her in time out. I was furious that one of my children would bite someone else.

It’s hard to imagine that my approach, attitude and reaction have changed so much with Alexa. If you have more than one child, I bet much has changed with your younger children as well. It’s not that we weren’t thoughtful parents with our first child(ren). It’s that we had limited perspective.

With Nathan and Kenna, I thought biting was a sure sign that 1) they would eventually turn into uncontrollable monster children and 2) I was a parenting failure. I reacted in kind. I now know that 1) most children bite at some point without later turning into beasts and 2) your child’s bad behavior is not necessarily an indictment on your parenting ability.

I will never have perspective with the twins because they are my “pioneer” children; they will always be the first to reach each age, and with each new age I will lack the perspective that comes with experience. What boggles my mind is that the only thing informing this major difference in perspective is a mere 21-month age gap.

If my view from a 21-month age difference changes my perspective so much, how vastly different must God’s perspective be from the view of eternity?

God’s eternal perspective is the reason that He had no problem allowing the Israelites to be slaves for 400 years (that’s a long time from a finite human perspective!). It’s the reason He was fine choosing the least likely people to be the heroes of biblical history. It’s the reason why, when we get mad at or doubt God today, He doesn’t just abandon us. He has thousands of years of experience with humans that make our tiny shaking fists look just that…tiny.

We will never have God’s eternal perspective, but James 1:5 tells us this:

“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”

Wisdom is the “quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment.” It’s effectively an outcome of perspective. James is telling us that God will grant the perspective we cannot obtain on our own. We just have to pray.

When I stop to consider the innate limitations of my human perspective, I am convicted of the enormous need to humbly plead for God’s wisdom on a regular basis. In fact, there may be no greater spiritual responsibility of a Christian parent than to recognize one’s limitations and pray for the wisdom that is otherwise unattainable by the flesh.

A prayer for wisdom is a prayer worth shaping your parenting around.

Dear Lord, I humbly acknowledge the limitation of my insight and perspective for this calling of parenthood. I pray for Your wisdom, which transcends anything I can possibly develop myself. I ask that You would give me eyes to see as you would see, ears to hear as you would hear and a heart to feel as you would feel. May the wisdom You grant me transcend my human perspective and be a light to my children. Amen!

1 Comment

  1. Laura @ Cornerstones for Parents on September 27, 2012 at 1:36 PM

    I think one of the most misused parenting verses in the Bible is the “train-up a child” passage (Proverbs 22:6). We treat it as an “if-then” statement. IF I train my kids right, THEN they will turn out all right. This misinterpretation has lead many parents to parent from a place of fear – not unlike your first biting experience. It is my understanding that it is better interpreted as an admonition: “If you don’t do anything to train your children in the ways of the Lord, how can you expect them to ever follow Him?” Humble submission is at the heart of godly parenting. Love, love, love the prayer. Thank you for sharing it.