By: Scott O'Malley
June 11th, 2021
In the previous four weeks we have discussed some very important foundations for biblical parenting:
Discipline and instruction without exasperation
Sharing the gospel in everyday conversations
Parenting to the heart not just controlling behavior
Entering In – connecting with your child
If you have been trying to implement these four foundations into your parenting, one thing quickly becomes clear: diligent parenting takes a lot of time. The false dichotomy of quality time versus quantity time should be better understood as quality time is not possible if there is not a quantity of time. I have counseled many adults who shared wonderful times with a particular parent during childhood, but there was great sadness that colored and overshadowed that particular experience because of how little time that parent made for them overall. In other words, a lack of quantity time negatively impacts what could have been quality time.
Quality time is not possible if there is not a quantity of time.
That leads us to an important question for every Christian parent: will we make the necessary time for our kids so there is no question in their minds about our love and commitment to them?
Consider the following challenge: “We are all alike in the fact that we all get up every morning and dig down into the soil of our lives to find some kind of treasure. And the way we speak and behave is our attempt to get out of our lives and relationships the things that are most important to us. Now, this is hard to accept, but it needs to be said: parenting is either a thing of the highest treasure to you, and that is demonstrated in your choices, words, and actions every day, or it is not” (Paul Tripp, Parenting pg. 25).
Foundation #8 – Faithful Biblical Parenting Takes Time
While it should be obvious that biblical parenting takes time, and I even mentioned it briefly in article #4 that for kids love is spelled T-I-M-E; in this article I want to elaborate further on its importance. I want to emphasize how loving and well-intentioned parents can at times not make the necessary time, especially when kids misbehave.
Will we make the necessary time for our kids so there is no question in their minds about our love and commitment to them?
Many of us as parents want what Paul Tripp calls “quick situational solutions” so we can get back to what we were doing. A simple but common example of this type of parenting is when two children are fighting over a toy. From the next room the parent hears the fighting and comes in and removes the toy so the children will stop fighting. While the removal of the toy may bring temporary peace, it does nothing to resolve the underlying issues that led to the conflict. It is vitally important to ask questions and draw out the hearts of your children to understand what is at the root of the conflict.
Proverbs 20:5 says, “The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.” In a coming post we will discuss in more detail how to handle a situation like this, but taking the time to ask questions and understand the conflict is a good place to start. Simply removing the toy is failing to make the necessary time to parent our children faithfully.
A second way parents don’t make the necessary time for their kids is they get too busy with work, activities, or hobbies so that there isn’t time for the slow, methodical, explaining of the Scriptures. Psalm 119:130 says, “The unfolding of your words give light; it imparts understanding to the simple.” If we are going to be faithful to God as we parent, there is no substitute for sitting down with an open Bible and unfolding the marvelous truths of God (see article #4 for guidance on unfolding God’s truth).
While there is a time to stop and sit, it is also vital to make time to share the truths of God’s Word as we are living life side by side with our kids. There are times when I have missed opportunities to minister the Word of God to my kids because I was distracted by something on my phone. Taking the time to remain available to listen and respond to my kids is at the heart of faithful parenting. Deuteronomy 6:6-7 says, “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” I love the comprehensive nature of these verses (morning, evening, and throughout the day) and how sharing the Scriptures should be a way of life for every Christian parent.
If we are going to be faithful to God as we parent, there is no substitute for sitting down with an open Bible and unfolding the marvelous truths of God.
An example of what it might look like to minister the Word of God to our children as we walk along the way is reassuring a child who is discouraged by an ongoing sin struggle that God’s grace is abounding (Romans 5:20) or that the blood of Christ cleanses from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). It is a privilege to share the astounding grace of God with our children. Psalm 145:4 says, “One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.”
While it is a privilege to exalt God’s grace, other situations warrant a rebuke because a child is becoming unteachable. Another example is found in Proverbs 12:1 which says, “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.” Whether it is a word of encouragement, a warning, or just spending time with our kids, we must again ask ourselves a simple question: will we count the cost and invest the necessary time to be the kind of parents God is calling us to be?
“You must regard parenting as one of your most important tasks while you have children at home. This is your calling. You must raise your children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. You cannot do so without investing yourself in a life of sensitive communication in which you help them understand life and God’s world. There is nothing more important. You have only a brief season of life to invest yourself in this task. You have only one opportunity to do it. You cannot go back and do it over” (Tedd Tripp, Shepherding a Child’s Heart pg. 101).
How do I know if I am spending sufficient time with my children?
As we are receiving this challenge to make time for our kids we have to ask ourselves, how much time is appropriate? We obviously can’t all quit our jobs and stay home to raise our kids with no money. How can we know if we are spending enough time with our kids? If you can answer yes to these three questions you are likely spending enough time with your kids to impact them for Christ.
Do you know your children’s interests, friends, and how they are spending their time?
Do you know their struggles, burdens, and/or pressures in their lives?
Do they come to you for advice on a somewhat regular basis?
If that is happening, keep it up and remain available. If that is not happening in your home right now, here are a few suggestions:
Pursue conversations with each of your children so you generally know how things are going in their lives (using the five questions discussed in article #5 of this series is a good place to start).
After doing plenty of listening, inquire about any struggles and/or prayer requests in your child’s life. For example, you could ask, “If you could change one thing in your life right now, what would you change? And why?”
Consistently share wisdom from the Word of God, showing your children how the Bible applies to their lives (see article #6 of this series for more details of what this looks like in action).
While there are many things that compete for our attention, we should carefully evaluate the use of our time (Psalm 90:12). If we hope to provide biblical instruction and discipline, have gospel conversations, parent to the heart, or truly connect with our children, we must be on guard against things that will distract us from investing in our kids. We must commit the time necessary for these things to be made possible.
While there are many things that compete for our attention, we should carefully evaluate the use of our time.
My prayer for all of us is that we will be firm in our conviction to not let the things of this world distract us from the vital role God is calling us to play in the lives of our children.
“A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove. But the world may be different, because I was important in the life of a child” (Forest Witcraft, Scouting Magazine October 1950, pg. 2).
Please join me next week as we discuss the power of example. For now, let me close with a few questions for you to reflect on this week.
Questions for Reflection
1. How frequently in the last two weeks have I settled for quick situational solutions? Spend some time praying and commit to investing in conversations that reach the hearts of your kids. 2. How well do I know what is going on in the hearts and lives of my children? Commit to pursuing conversations and relational connection with your kids this week. 3. How often am I unfolding the words of God to my children? Is there anything in my life that I need to cut out to make more time for this important parenting responsibility?