I love my kids.

I’ve always loved them.

Before I held my first son for the first time, I never truly believed in love at first sight. I never knew unconditional love could exist among humans.

Having them, loving them, and raising them up to this point has taught me the truth about how to love others.

Being a mom has taught me how to love the way God must love.

For far too many years mothers have rated their parenting abilities on a social media scale. Instagram highlights, crunchy mom groups, and Mommy & Me comparisons have driven our success or failure as moms.

Let’s not even mention the state of our house! When my son asks if his cousin can come over, I have to bring out an imaginary scale and figure out how much one visit will make this kid think I can’t keep my house clean…

Learning from the Father

Too many parents today aren’t confident in their own parenting skills because they didn’t have a competent example of what a parent should look like. If we’re being honest with ourselves, and with our children, we would probably view ourselves in the honest light of the gospel, too.

We can look at the gospel to understand just what our kids need today and in the future.

In Genesis, at the creation of the world, God created a beautiful space for humanity to live and thrive in, and then He created a day for them to spend time together there! God created mankind to be with Him. 

When mankind sinned and death was brought into the world, God put in place a plan of redemption so that we could return to Him through the saving love of Jesus Christ. God allowed His son to suffer and die on a cross so that we could be with Him. 

God called Abraham out of his homeland to bring him to Himself in the promised land, essentially establishing a church with Abraham and his descendants. God created His church to be with Him.

When the Israelites were enslaved in Egypt, God called them out of slavery to and into the wilderness to be with Him. God freed the Israelite slaves so they could be with Him. 

Lessons from Jesus

Jesus was a son.

I think sometimes we forget this. He depended on God when we walked earth as a human man. He gave God the glory when He performed miracle after miracle.

Jesus also prayed. He spent time in solitude so He could spend time with His Father.

In Mark 14:36, when Jesus cries out to God in prayer, He addresses Him as “Abba.”

Though many people view the term ‘Abba’ as just another word for “daddy,” theologians agree it is more a term of reverence–like our “sir.”

‘Abba’ means obedience, but it also means intimacy.

As parents, we have books and podcasts, webinars, and parenting classes to help us with our discipline. We know the tricks to get our kids to listen. We can make them fear punishment with threats and theatrics.

We can lose our temper. We can get them to obey.

But the example of God and Jesus tells a different story: it’s one of obedience and intimacy.

God in the Old Testament and Jesus in the New Testament tell this story well.

Our Father wants to spend time with us.

I Call Him Abba

In her book, I Call Him Abba, Celeste Perrino Walker says, “God won’t force His way into your heart today any more than He would have forced His way into the inn, but meekly accepted birth in a dirty stable. It has to be your choice, your decision. Because He wants to be your guest.”

How interesting that we want this from our own children! We want them to obey and love us because they want to!

We want them to choose us. We want them to grow up and leave home and still call us and visit us.

To have this type of intimate and obedience relationship with our kids, we must look first at what God did.

He was with us!

It’s even in in the name of Jesus told to Joseph in Matthew chapter 1:

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).

God wants to be with us! He was with us in the Garden of Eden. He was with Abraham in covenant. He was with the Israelites in the wilderness. He walked among us as Jesus, and He lives within us now as the Holy Spirit.

Let’s be like God, our Father, when parenting our own children.

Let’s be with them.

Here are some tips to spend time with your kids:

  1. Turn the tv and games off.
  2. Put down the tablets and the phones.
  3. Keep your bedroom door open so the kids are welcome.
  4. Eat meals together at the table (no distractions).
  5. Turn down the music in the car and talk.
  6. Take walks together.
  7. Sit together at social functions and at church.
  8. Plan special occasions with your kids.
  9. Read with your kids.
  10. Include them in anniversary celebrations and family traditions.