The Perfect Parenting Formula to Become a Better Parent

Jelena Fu teaches all ages, but her work with children led her to looking for a formula that might help parents raise better kids. She paid attention to children and their parents. But it was when she asked her own daughter what she and her friends thought they needed most from their parents that she found her formula. She shares it in her TEDx Talk. You’d probably like to know the formula she discovered, wouldn’t you?

You would because it would be nice to have a formula for parenting. When you took that first child home with you he or she did not come with a User’s Manual. So you turned to innumerable books. But you read one set of suggestions that were countered by the next.

You turned to your parents, but then you looked at your spouse or looked in the mirror and thought, “Surely we can do better than that.”

Even psychologists haven’t cracked the code. I was visiting with one years ago looking for some advice. We were friends and in the course of the conversation I asked her about her daughter and found that she was stumped as to what to do with her. I listened, dispensed some advice, and sent her a bill for the hour.

For those who are followers of Jesus you might wish he had something to say about parenting. But he wasn’t a parent. He was never married. And he didn’t, as far as we know, say much of anything about parenting.

Or did he? Consider the scene we find in John 5. Jesus upsets the religious establishment by healing a lame man by the pool. He tells them: “…For whatever the Father does, the Son likewise does these things.” Jesus explains that the reason he did what he did is that it is what the Father would do. He’s talking about the healing. But he also explains every other action we see him doing. See the connection? If Jesus does what the Father would do, then Jesus is doing what a father would do. We need only watch him to learn how to parent well.

When we watch Jesus we learn to parent more effectively. We find that a parent gives their children time. When disciples followed Jesus, he spent time with them. Walking. Sharing meals. Talking. Serving people together. Handling crisis together. It takes quantity time to find quality time.

We also discover a parent provides teaching to their children. Jesus was directly addressed ninety times in the Gospels. Sixty of those times he is called “Teacher.” Parents are the primary teachers for their children. And if we parent as Jesus demonstrates, those of us who are followers of Jesus will be the primary teachers who teach our children primarily the kingdom of God. How to think like Jesus would think. How to act like Jesus would act. How to pray, find solitude, take in the Word of God, etc. as Jesus would.

As we teach our kids we will also correct. Jesus did. He said to Peter, “Get behind me Satan! You are not thinking about God’s concerns but human concerns.” I’m not suggesting you call your child Satan! You’ll send them into years of therapy if you do. But you will at times have to steer them back to “God’s concerns” when their talk and actions are more aligned with “human concerns.”

But parenting is not all correction. Parents celebrate with their children too. When the disciples came back from a successful outing to the towns and villages, Jesus celebrated their accomplishments with them. So can we. Birthdays and Christmas for sure. But also celebrate when you see God in their lives. Jesus told his disciples that there was even more cause for joy that “their names were written in heaven.”

After consulting with her friends, Jelena Fu’s daughter offered this five-word-parenting-formula: “We want you to listen.” That’s not bad advice. Fathers and mothers, the good ones, listen to their children. Jesus’ father did. Remember that prayer that he modeled for his disciples? It began with “Abba, Father…” the expectation was that this Father is one who wants more than anything to hear the voice of his children.

And so when you, parent, need help in knowing how to be one, remember you have a Father who will listen to you. There is a parenting formula. It’s not five words but five letters: Jesus.

Master Jesus and you will master parenting.

Question: Which area of parenting can you improve on this year? How will you do that?

 

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