Parents: Expect Foolishness from Your Children

In the course of being married nearly ten years and being a parent for almost that long (#honeymoon babies rock!!!), I’ve had numerous discussions with people about marriage and children. Additionally, my wife and I have had more than a few conversations about children and parenting. One thing I have come to see is that many people do not want children at all or they do not want more than x children (whatever that number is). In a future post, I plan to address all 11 reasons that Nicolas DiDomizio listed as to why millennials don’t want kids. However, in this post I want to address one reason that some people cannot fathom why anyone could want more kids.

Sometimes, when people hear that I have four kids, one on the way, and no desire to “stop,” they respond with things like:

  • “Wow, I don’t know how you do it.”
  • “I could never do it.”
  • “Two kids is more than enough for me.”

The general tone of these responses indicates a feeling of exhaustion and stress at the thought of dealing with more kids! It seems as if, while these people may enjoy the children they have, the dominating feature of kids in their minds is not overly positive.

Now I get what some people will say. “Hey, I love kids, but I can’t deal with a bunch of them. After all, I love dogs, but wouldn’t want five dogs in my house!” I wouldn’t want five dogs either. But the difference is that the marriage union of a man and woman doesn’t produce dogs, it produces little people.

The Christian worldview demands a certain view of family, marriage, and children. I am a Christian. Therefore, I acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord. God’s Word is the standard for all thinking. If my personal opinion differs from God’s Word, I do not have the option to bring my personal opinion about children into my marriage. I am required to change my opinion to make it conform to God’s Word.

The Importance of a Christian Worldview

A lot of people may claim to be Christians (and therefore claim to have a Christian worldview), but when asked about children they give a response that is not in accord with God’s Word at all. People may claim to be all about God’s Word and how important it is to read and study. They may even affirm that obedience to God’s Word is important. After all, the Bible clearly calls us to conform our lives and minds to God’s Word:

  • I haven’t turned away from your regulations, for you have taught me well. (Psalm 119:102)
  • The teaching of your word gives light, so even the simple can understand. (Psalm 119:130)
  • Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:2)

But the real question is if we are actually applying God’s Law-Word to our thinking. Does what the Bible teach actually impact how we view all of life? When it comes to children, there is view that we are required to adopt:

Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him. (Psalm 127:3)

Children are gifts from God. They are blessings. Therefore, the general, overriding view of children that a Christian is required to have is a positive view. It is the same with marriage. It is very sad to hear men (or women) speak negatively about the marriage covenant in general or their spouse in particular. The Christian worldview forbids this outlook. Marriage is a wonderful blessing. If you do not view it in that way, your marriage will unquestionably deteriorate. Fast.

Managing Your Expectations

There is more to the Christian view of children, however, than that they are gifts from God. In fact, I think one of the main reasons parents struggle with the thought of “dealing with” more kids is because they have not embraced a specific aspect of children that is required with the Christian worldview: children are foolish. The Bible makes it unmistakable: “A youngster’s heart is filled with foolishness, but physical discipline will drive it far away” (Proverbs 22:15).

If you do not embraceI mean really embracethis biblical truth, you are going to be setting yourself up for massive frustrations in your parenting! Children, just like you and me, are born sinners. The whole reason they need you to parent them is because they are prone to folly. You don’t need to teach a child to be greedy, selfish, and rude. They do those things just fine on their own! You do need to teach a child to share, be kind, and be polite. These things go against our sinful nature, they go against the folly in our hearts.

If everyday when you wake up, you expect your children to disobey you, you are not going be as frustrated, flustered, and stressed when things “go wrong.” You expect it. You are mentally prepared for it. In fact, you can even be encouraged by it: your child’s folly confirms what the Bible teaches! Next time you are tempted to “go crazy” because of your kids, take a moment and thank God for confirming the truth of his Word in a very practical way in your life!

I like to put it like this: we expect disobedience but we do not tolerate it. To explain further:

  1. We teach obedience and that God requires our children to honor and obey us
  2. However, we expect foolishness and disobedience (every day!)
  3. We correct foolishness and disobedience, not because we are frustrated by it, but simply because we are required to work at driving that folly far from our children

You see, we are to demand obedience and expect disobedience. This does not mean that we are hypocritical. It means that we are realistic. We do not give our children a free pass when they disobey: we correct them. But neither do we get upset and frustrated because their disobedience messed up our plans. After all, “my plan” was for them to be foolish and for me to correct them. God tells me they are going to be foolish and disobedient, so why should I expect anything else?

This worldview applies to more than clear disobedience from our children. All the little things that our children can do to mess up our “perfect plan” for life should be expected. I was prompted to write this post after reading a question in a marriage study guide by Kirk and Chelsea Cameron. The question was as follows:

Should​ ​you​ ​expect​ ​perfection​ ​while​ ​raising​ ​your​ ​family?​ ​Why​ ​or​ ​why​ ​not?

That may seem like an easy question to answer (who would say they expect perfection?). But it is more challenging to apply the truth to your thinking, day in and day out.

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