You must be committed as a parent to long-view parenting because change is a process and not an event.
Most parents want it, even though it is not necessarily communicated. In fact, many try to create something in their parenting that cannot be produced or recreated. Paul Tripp writes, “We all tend to think we have the power to produce it, but we don’t. We all say and do things that we think will create it, but our words and actions simply don’t have the power that we think they do.” What Paul Tripp is talking about is parenting strategies. He states, “We want parenting to be a series of events rather than a lifelong process.”
“The Father’s work of justification is an event, but His work of transformation is literally a life-long process.”
Even though most parents desire parenting to be a series of events, the realization is that it is a process. Similar to our own faith and sanctification in Jesus, parenting provides opportunities to model our faith and exhibit growth in Christ. Paul Tripp writes, “Here the gospel of Jesus Christ provides the ultimate model of what God has called us to as parents…We have been fully justified and completely accepted, but we are not complete because there is a massive change that needs to take place in us.” Meaning parents are also in the process of changing. Namely, those who are believers are becoming more like Christ. That process of ‘change’ is a life-long process. It is something that simply takes time and patience.
“Parenting is not a series of dramatic confrontation-confession events, but rather a life-long process of incremental awareness and progressive change.”
The apostle Paul explains in 1 Timothy 1:16 that Jesus displays His perfect patience in the lives of those who trust and believe in him. Parents are sinners, just like their children, and are in need of God’s forgiveness and grace. Moreover, because of that patience, he gives grace and mercy as he works His divine will and plans in the lives of parents. In turn, parents get the opportunity to model God’s patience, grace, and mercy as they parent their children.
In this regard, Paul Tripp puts together three things to help parents:
- Parent with a Process Mentality
- See parenting as One Unending Conversation
- Parent with a Project Mentality
It is important to view parenting as a process instead of an event. “Since change is most often a process and seldom an event, you have to remember that you can’t look for a dramatic transformational conclusion to your encounters with your children.” Second, change and transformation does not take place within one conversation. Parents will be given numerous opportunities to instill values, virtues, and faith as they continue their family instruction throughout their child’s life. Therefore, “each day you look for another opportunity to advance that critical conversation one more step, and because you do, you don’t consider those moments where correction is needed to be interruptions or hassles, but gifts of grace afforded you by a God who is at work in the hearts and lives of your children.” Paul Tripp says that parents should view it as “many mini-moments of change.” Lastly, parents should view their parenting responsibilities with a “sense of project.” Meaning, parents are to be aware of their child’s struggles and weaknesses, therefore, “every day you look to engage your child with consideration of what you already know is important.” Parents utilize this approach over time with their children, knowing that growth and change do not happen overnight.
In conclusion, parenting requires the “fruit of the Spirit- Galatians 5:22-23.” It involves patience, gentleness, love, and self-control. God knows the struggles that parents face each and every day. He also knows that parents, like children, need his forgiveness, grace, mercy, and love; therefore, he freely gives those things. Those who follow Christ are in a process of sanctification and change to become more like Jesus. Therefore, it is imperative to understand that growing in Christ is a process, as is parenting our children. Also, it is not having just one “one conversation,”. Rather, it is a continued conversation within the parent-child relationship over time. All believers are a “project” that is being changed, restored, forgiven, and redeemed. God is working on us through the Holy Spirit to become more like Christ. There is hope for parents, especially those who seem defeated and discouraged. Our hope is in God’s redemptive purposes for us and our children.
Do you view your parenting as a process?
How can you model God’s forgiveness to your children?
What are some action steps you can take to help your children understand that parenting, and our faith in Christ, is a process?
*All material, quotes, and references are taken from the book Parenting by Paul Tripp