Parenting Day 31 – You Cannot Change Your Children

Parenting, Day 31 - You Cannot Change Your Children

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One of the hardest things a Christian parent will ever experience is a child choosing not to walk with the Lord. Attached to this personal struggle is the temptation to force or manipulate righteousness on the child. You’ll know if you’re susceptible to these struggles if you are over-worrying, over-caring, or over-trying to get your child to change.

I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth (1 Corinthians 3:6).

Typically, these temptations only happen with those who are closest to us—spouses and children. Thus, we are freer from the “lostness” of and less tempted to worry about those that are not within our immediate relational spheres. Jesus had the remarkable ability to care well for everyone regardless of His biological relationship with them. He wept for the stubborn people in Jerusalem (Matthew 23:37) and unemotionally explained how being related to Him did not give His family special privileges (Matthew 12:48).

The biblio-centric sweet spot is not to overcare or under care for those who need the Lord. You will find that rest after you learn that you cannot change anyone, including your children. Anxiety or anger will not bring people into the Kingdom of God: The anxious parent is not trusting the Lord; the angry parent is not trusting the Lord. Both of these parental demographics have forgotten how cooperating with the Lord in the spiritual maturity of their children has a stopping point.

Paul identified that stopping point right after planting and watering, just before God gives the growth. So perhaps it would be helpful if you put a period after the word “watered” in 1 Corinthians 3:6 as a reminder that personal responsibility for the redemption of others stops there as you wait for the Lord to provide the necessary change in a person’s life. Then, you will quickly know if you’ve blown through the sweet spot if you try to manipulate your child to trust Christ.

Fear and anger are two manipulative strategies for parents of rebellious children, and regret and self-condemnation typically accompany fear and anger: These parents are not trusting the Lord. Grace is the means God uses to save individuals, not your works (Ephesians 2:8-9). If your child turns to the Lord, it will be because of God’s empowering favor, which is something you can’t manipulate. If your child is not walking with Jesus and you are struggling with anxiety, anger, regret, or self-condemnation, you must reexamine how you relate to God.

In this 31-day devotional, I have consistently called you to assess your life, marriage, and children as you cooperate with the Lord to make the necessary changes in you so you can help your kids love God and others. I have asked you to water and plant only. I have not requested or expected you to provide the “growth” they need to live for God. There is active and passive obedience. Active obedience is what you’re supposed to do. Passive obedience is what God does to you. You must functionally know the difference, which you’ll perceive through the grid of anxiousness, anger, regret, or self-condemnation.

If you are struggling in any of these areas, the Lord may be using your wayward child as a means to parent you into biblical faith. The irony is that if you struggle unnecessarily over your kid’s waywardness, you’re doing something similar to what your child is doing: not trusting God. So the first place to start parenting your child is to parent yourself.

Time to Parent

  1. What hinders you from fully trusting God to change your child?
  2. Write out the sin pattern(s) that hinder you and make a plan to change while you trust God to change your kid.

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