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  • Writer's pictureLauren

Mother Love: You are the Representative of God

Updated: Jun 5

This is the eighth installment of a ten-part series on "The Ten Commandments of a Christian Education" found in Mother Love: A Manual for Christian Mothers.

Eight Commandment: Thou shalt not raise thy children in greater dread of thy own severity than of the just and omnipotent God, the Divine Savior, and their guardian angel. By thy earnest and gentle behavior, thou shalt lead them to revere thee as the representative of God.

This Commandment really gets to the heart of what we are (or should be) trying to do as parents. If we are stewarding our children as we ought, our children will see beyond us and into Eternity. They will understand the rules we make and the activities we pursue as a family aren't arbitrary, but for the good of their souls. Their biggest fear in breaking these rules or choosing a different, more worldly lifestyle once they are out on their own won't be because they fear the punishment or disappointing mom and dad, but because by they understand that by their disobedience and worldly pursuits they offend God, who is all good and deserving of all our love.

How do we get there, though? It's all too easy, and I see it in well-meaning Christian families all the time (including my own), to parent out of fear. It's a misguided form of love: because we parents have a horror of sin and we know and rightly fear what sin will do to our children's souls, we become terrified of our own or our children's mistakes and what they may be exposed to in the world. Rather than being living icons of God the Father in our families, this fear turns the loving exercise of our God-given authority as parents into harsh authoritarianism. We become commandeering, we micromanage and nitpick, we isolate, we communicate poorly, and we fail to listen. Our children then respond with defiance, stonewalling, power struggles, and a myriad other forms of rebellion.

Instead of parental authority being an exercise of raw power, however, God invites us to steward these children He has entrusted to us with an authority expressed by earnest and gentle behavior. Relationships founded on power are never successful, because real love is not about power. It's about generous self-giving. And if we can change our mindsets so that we parent out of a generous, self-giving love and not out of fear, our children will revere us. Scripture confirms this, telling us that the children of mothers who parent in this way "will rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: 'Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all'” (Proverbs 31:28-29).

Once we understand this, we have to take it one step further, however. There are plenty of secular parents out there who, acting by means of natural virtue, have great relationships with their children and are deeply admired by them. The goal is not to have our children revere us for our own sake, but to revere us as representatives of God. Our children cannot do this if they don't have an intimate, personal relationship with Jesus Christ, otherwise they will simply see our virtue without understanding or desiring its true Source.

The best way to begin this is to model it ourselves: our children should see that we ourselves have a personal relationship with Christ. He must not be an abstract or theoretical doctrine - He's a Person, after all. We must not speak of Him in vague or general ways, but in personal ways: "This is what Jesus, my savior, has done for me, dear child. This is how He is working in me right now, today! This is what I hope from Him for myself in the future. And this is what he wants especially for you!"

If we can do manage to do this, to parent out of love, with gentleness and earnestness, demonstrating the real, personal nature of our own relationships with Christ in whom we live and move and have our very being, then we don't need to fear for ourselves or our children. We can parent with more freedom in joy, trusting in the promises of Scripture that by training up our children in the way they should go, in the end, they will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6).

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