When You Don’t Know How To Parent Anymore

Bonnie KoopFeatured5 Comments

I know I don’t know nearly enough to be a good parent.

I don’t know how to make bad dreams go away and not come back tomorrow.

I don’t know how to calmly and patiently respond to every single “Why?” question.

I don’t know which consequence to dish out when they sort of disobey but mainly just tick me off.

I don’t know what is causing their meltdown when they can’t coherently talk to me and everything I think they could be dealing with seems too ridiculous to cause this much emotion.

I just don’t know.

A few years ago, I was really struggling, trying to do all the right things to train them up in the way they should go. Church, doing family devotions, we had them memorizing verses, and were praying with them and for them. We checked all the boxes.

But it didn’t feel like enough.

And when I looked around, I saw wonderful Christian parents whose children had walked away from God, I got scared. I knew we needed to do more, work harder, and try to figure out what not to do.

Then perhaps I could guarantee my kids’ way to heaven.

The longing and pressure became intense. So I went to talk to our pastor of prayer. She very gently pointed out that I don’t have control over my children’s eternity. What I can do is pray and ask the Holy Spirit to help me not miss those crucial moments in their lives; the ones where they are at a crossroads of faith or trying to choose between right and wrong. Those big moments are when we can help steer them toward Jesus.

Those are moments we can easily miss, too, because we are annoyed with them or tired or too busy. When those moments come I need to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s prompting.

Aha. Yes. -I’d forgotten about my secret ally.

When he was returning to heaven Jesus told his disciples that he would ask the Father to give us a Helper who would never leave us and would lead us into all truth (John 14:15-16). Jesus adds in John 14:26, “But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.” Not only that, but in Romans 8:26-27 it tells us the Holy Spirit helps us in our weaknesses when we don’t know how to pray.  How often is that not the case as parents? Acts 1 tells of the power that comes with the filling of the Holy Spirit.  Power to overcome sin and to do all that God is asking us to do as parents. And the Holy Spirit fills us with confident hope (Romans 15:13).

We need the Holy Spirit to do this parenting thing well.

The trick is remembering to go to Him; to ask Him for wisdom and strategy and hope.

In the past, when crisis hit, I used to first call a friend, then check out what the internet had to say and perhaps buy a book on the subject of my struggle. I would do all of this before going to God. I frequently forgot that I have a powerful ally who can help me parent better.

Times when we need to make the Holy Spirit our ally

When you can’t figure out what’s bothering them and neither can they. It’s hard enough for adults to understand their emotions, and kids are even less able to navigate their own emotions. Yet we can see they are struggling and we want to help. The best way is to ask the Holy Spirit to give you insight and wisdom into what’s going on in their hearts. Romans 8:26-27 says the Holy Spirit prays for us when we don’t know what to pray because he knows all hearts. We may not know what is happening or why, but we can talk to the one who does!       

When they sin or lie and you need it brought into the light. There are times when I just knew something wasn’t right; something was being hidden. These are the times when I almost feel sorry for my child because I go into full on prayer warrior mode. I’m praying for conviction of their hearts and that God would reveal truth to them and us. And wouldn’t you know it, a few hours or sometimes days later they will slink up to me and quietly say they need to privately talk to me about something. And I very quietly respond back, but in my head I am shouting and dancing because I know the Holy Spirit has been at work in their hearts.

When you want to know what your child needs at a certain stage of their life. Each age brings different challenges and joys. Each age is also an opportunity for our kids’ hearts to grow and thrive and we need help figuring out what that might be. Sometimes I feel like what they need is more laughter in our home. Sometimes I sense the Holy Spirit directing us to set better boundaries. Other times he reminds me to love them and show greater compassion and grace. This COVID season is another one where I’ve chosen to pray and ask God what my boys need. My mind and social media are loudly telling me to do more memory work, teach them to cook and you name it to make this time count. Yet every morning when I ask God what success looks like today he says things like, “make supper, do school well, laugh a bit” and simple things like that.

God is for us and our children. He is on our side and is our partner in raising them to bring him glory. His part is really so much greater that ours! My part is to pray about everything, tell him what I need and then thank him for all he has done.

“If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.”

James 1:5

So take your concerns, worries and frustrations to him. Ask and then listen for a moment. Jot down anything that comes to mind. We won’t always get an answer in the moment. But we need to give the Holy Spirit time to talk if he chooses. Read your Bible and look for wisdom there. And actively watch for the answer. James says when we ask for wisdom we must believe and not doubt.

Sometimes my answers have come through conversations with friends a few days later, or in my devotion times or through a book I picked up. The Holy Spirit has many ways to reveal wisdom to us. Our job is to ask, listen and actively wait for our answer.

You are not in this alone. You have the most powerful ally working with you. So, “I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).

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Bonnie Koop

Bonnie is “just” a stay-at–home mom for two energetic boys and the wife of a sports and music-loving husband. She loves Jesus and is trying to live a life that reflects that. Her desire is to see others come into a deep relationship with Jesus and experience the love and life change that our heavenly Father brings. And so in her “spare” time she helps write material and teach at Southland’s Selah mom’s program. Oh, and if having coffee with friends can be considered a hobby then she is all over that!

5 Comments on “When You Don’t Know How To Parent Anymore”

  1. The very best parenting advice, marriage advice, relationship advice! Thank you Bonnie for this encouragement and reminder!

  2. Thank you Bonnie for this timely parenting article – the very best parenting advice ever- Jesus truly is our ally. Our help. And our hope. Thank you for this encouragement to keep seeking His help in parenting our precious kids. So awesome!

  3. This came to my inbox with perfect timing! Thank you for your thoughtful and well written articles!

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