Parenting Is Your Highest Calling – My Take Away

This past week or ten days I read Leslie Leyland Fields’ Parenting Is Your Highest Calling And 8 Other Myths that Trap Us in Worry and Guilt.  If you have ever struggled with mother-guilt it is highly recommended.

Here are the nine myths she covers just to give you an idea of what’s in the book:

Myth 1:  Having Children Makes You Happy and Fulfilled

Myth 2:  Nurturing Your Children is Natural and Instinctive

Myth 3:  Parenting Is Your Highest Calling

Myth 4:  Good Parenting Leads to Happy Children

Myth 5:  If You Find Parenting Difficult, You Must Not Be Following the Right Plan

Myth 6:  You Represent Jesus To Your Children

Myth 7:  You Will Always Feel Unconditional Love for Your Children

Myth 8:  Sucessful Parents Raise Godly Children

Myth 9:  God Approves of Only One Family Design

Here are some of the things I underlined throughout the book:

  • Page 2 had this quote:  “Why wasn’t I a more joyful and loving mother?  Why were my children so lacking?  Why did I always feel like a failure”  And I was wondering, when did I write this book because those exact thoughts are in my head nearly daily.  Especially during the school year.  *sigh*
  • In a survey conducted by Focus on the Family, the most frequent comment from mothers was that they felt like failures.
  • The Old Testament records God’s parental relationship as one of great desire, incomprehensible love, unending compassion – yet Israel’s response to this perfect parental love was disobedience.
  • All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people. (Isaiah 65:2)
  • Throughout the Scriptures, we seldom see God as a happy, blithe parent.  We see instead God hungering for more.
  • There is a section in Myth 1 about the All-American pursuit of happiness and how it has caused part of this uneasiness in our mothering.  We have somehow bought the myth that devoting ourselves to our families will make us happy when in reality they often serve more to make us holy – to smooth out our rough edges, to exposes our selfishness, to make us more aware of our need for a savior – which is the real point of following Christ anyway, right?
  • Children simply cost too much – and not just in dollar figures.  They undo us.  They show us how much and how little we’re made of.  It often seems that they come only to break our hearts. And we let them.  We invite it all.  We admit perfect strangers through our doors and decide to love them wildly, without condition, for as long as we live.
  • Our children reveal to us what we know we are:  beggars before God.
  • Not even Samson’s failure could prevent the accomplishment of God’s great purposes.
  • Am I parenting faithfully?  Am I parenting consistently?  Am I honoring God as I raise my children?  This is what I am responsible for.  God is responsible for all the rest.  (Stop and let that soak in….isn’t that an amazing feeling of freedom?)
  • How do we learn to love our children and spouses?  We learn from others who love well.
  • We need to stop pretending that loving our children as God requires is natural and instinctive.  No.  It’s messy.  It’s arduous.  It’s costly.
  • We may reason that as long as we do not replace God with ourselves, as long as the God substitutes are God-given – our children and spouse – and we are serving and loving them, as God commands, then this must be good and acceptable!
  • What God asks of us, He Himself will provide.
  • Knowing this, when my children disappoint me, I need not be shaken.  I am freed to love them as God loves them.  Simply because they are His.
  • We are asked to lose our lives in Christ’s life, not in our children’s lives.
  • God parents for holiness, not happiness.
  • Holiness permeates His very being.  As Wells warns,  without some understanding of the holiness of God, “our faith loses its meaning entirely.”
  • Our faith will fail, too, if we forget that God requires us to be holy.
  • How can I parent in such a way that they are rocked free from their peer’s obsessions with here-and-now gratification?
  • It is possible to spend ourselves in the labor of preserving our children’s happiness only to have them grow up weak, unable to withstand life, seeking their immediate happiness over lasting holiness and blessing.
  • Here, then, is how God prepared this couple (Samson’s parents) for parenting:  by calling them into a deep, daily, costly, dependent relationship with Himself.
  • But these laws (the Ten Commandments) were never meant to be ends in themselves.  They were always intended as means of knowing God, learning about His holiness, and entering into relationship with Him.  When the rules are followed as external behaviors in themselves, separated from a genuine relationship with God, perversion always results.
  • God has already shown us the way.  He parents, not according to an external list of rules, but according to His nature.  Because He is a God of abounding love, He showers love and tenderness upon His children.  Because He is a God of clarity and fairness, He provides definitive expectations for His children.  Because He is a God of justice, He punishes His children’s sin.  Because He is a God of truth, who always fulfills His word, He disciplines their violations just as He promised.  Because He is a God of mercy, He makes a way for theirs sins to be covered.  Because He is a God of hope, He offers restoration even in the midst of judgment.
  • Do we accomplish the character of Jesus Christ in our children’s lives, or does Christ do this?
  • It is possible to give ourselves so fully to our families that they only learn to take what we give.
  • God’s love does not lift Him beyond the sins and rebellion of His children.  Just the opposite.  God’s love draws Him near to His rebellious children.
  • When our children disobey, when they cause harm to another, when they choose attitudes and actions that cut against the holiness that God desires, we will have an emotional response – if we truly love them.  Loving them means that we desire their highest good:  to know God and live righteously before Him.
  • Will my discipline bring my child closer to being the person God wants him/her to be?
  • By our contemporary standards, most of these families (Old Testament families) were dismal failures.  Yet God transformed their weaknesses into a faith that accomplished His eternal purposes.  I am not sovereign over my children – God is.  And God will use every aspect of my human parenting, even my sins and failures, to shape my children into who He desires them to be, for the sake of His kingdom.
  • We have made far too much of ourselves and far too little of God.
  • Their (our children’s) questions are fair.  Their experiments with hair, clothes, music, and other markers of identity are not threats but an essential part of their movement toward autonomy.  As they grow toward adulthood and independence, it is not only natural but necessary for them to examine the beliefs we claim.  We need to extend grace to them as they begin a spiritual journey that might look different from our own.
  • We need to quit asking, Am I parenting successfully?  Instead we need to ask, Am I parenting faithfully?
  • Our children will make their choices, God will be sovereign,and God will advance His kingdom.
  • Now I can focus more on my obedience than on my children’s weaknesses.
  • This is the greatest parenting truth I can know:  my children belong to God.
  • the highest call upon my life:  to love God with all that I have and all that I am.  I hope to teach my children to do the same.

Obviously, these are only excerpts from the book; the sections I underlined because they spoke to me or reaffirmed something I already thought, so the quotes may seem disconnected or random.  I strongly encourage you to grab a copy and read through it.  It’s another quick read and very encouraging.


3 thoughts on “Parenting Is Your Highest Calling – My Take Away

  1. Just wanted to let you know, I read the book. Thanks so much for pointint it out. I’ll be doing a review and linking to you — probably next Friiday or so. 🙂

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