Navigating the world of parenting can often feel like running a gauntlet. How to birth your child, feed your child, and help her sleep; what he should play with and read; the daily schedule; clothing choices, schooling choices ... the list of opinions and “best practices” in these areas are daunting and often discouraging.
One of my favorite aspects of God’s Word is the way that it shapes my parenting. There are many, many challenges of parenthood that you cannot be prepared for ahead of time, and yet every time I turn to Scripture, I find hope, encouragement, and insight that guides our family’s day-to-day life. God’s Word gives me a lens and a foundation as I navigate parenthood.
Difficult Developmental Seasons
My own children are currently toddler age, which means our household is in a season when little people are figuring out how to interact with the world on their own terms. We are past the newborn and baby days of constant nap- and feeding-schedule adjustments and are almost past teething, but that has dumped us right into potty training, time-outs, and big feelings about everything.
As my husband and I continue to navigate how to best help our children interact with other people, we return again and again to the framework found in the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22–23).
Fruit of the Spirit
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. I have yet to face a situation with my toddlers when we could not discuss a behavior using this set of vocabulary.
When a toy is grabbed away without asking, we talk about self-control, patience, and kindness. When the silverware is put away from the dishwasher, we talk about faithfulness and love. Using the fruit of the Spirit as ongoing vocabulary that we measure our actions against also helps me segue into opportunities to remind my children (and myself) of their Baptisms.
Reminded of Our Need
In times when we are struggling with patience and gentleness, we are reminded of why we need the Spirit to be at work. Left to our own sinful tendencies, things would get and stay pretty ugly. In times when we are celebrating kind or self-controlled actions, we are humbly reminded that our ability to act in that way comes through the work of the Holy Spirit.
The fruit of the Spirit gives our family a common language and framework to use as we navigate toddlerhood and parenthood together. Reminding one another of our Baptisms allows confession and forgiveness to be spoken more easily.
As you continue to navigate your own season of parenting, be encouraged by God’s faithfulness. In His Word, you will find truth and a firm foundation to hold you up as you discern the many choices and circumstances you face each day.
This month’s Everyday Faith Calendar features the end of our A–Z walk through the Bible this summer. Each day has a Scripture reading and a prompt to consider.