3 keys to parenting with Jesus

Written by Robyn Dykstra
Published on December 24, 2021

I was not natural at parenting. While other teen girls were babysitting, I was busy with worldly things. No mama in her right mind would trust me with her babies. 

By the time I finally straightened out, settled down, and surrendered to Jesus, my biological time clock was clanging away—but I was terrified of growing my own human. It’s a daunting responsibility! 

There is no tiptoeing in, test-driving the plan, or trying children on for size. It’s an all-or-nothing proposition. Fortunately, my man was convinced we’d be rock-star parents (and I believed at least he would be), so we started growing our family. 

Wanting to live up to his expectations and fearful of messing up my kid, I started reading everything I could find on the topic. I watched mothers with small children in grocery stores and on playdates at parks. I even volunteered to work in the church nursery to get some experience.  

Jesus, not perfection

What I learned from observation, casual conversation, and personal experience is, you do not have to be perfect to be a good mom. 

What you need is Jesus. 

When you follow the words and ways of Jesus, he covers your weaknesses, fills in the gaps, and equips you to be the best mom for your children. Here are three keys to parent with Jesus

1. Love like Jesus 

Just like we need Jesus’s love, our kids need ours. Parents are the most important people in a child’s life, and our kids are desperate for our attention, affirmation, and affection. 

Children feel safe and secure when they know there is nothing they can do to make us stop loving them. “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34 NIV). 

Shower them with hugs, kisses, and words of affirmation. Be dependable. Listen when they talk. Pay attention to them. Keep your promises. These acts build the parental bonds of love children need. 

2. Provide instruction  

Children are not miniature adults. They aren’t delivered to us full of wisdom and common sense. They arrive fearless and foolish.

 “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child” (Proverbs 22:15 NASB). You need to teach them godly disciplines and life skills to overcome their foolishness. “Discipline your children, and they will give you peace; they will bring you the delights you desire” (Proverbs 29:17 NIV). 

It takes time and patience to train a child. They hardly ever get it the first time—but then, neither do we. Consider the last time you learned something new. 

Did you master it the first time? Did any of the instructions have to be repeated? And this is important: Affirm what they do right and well. 

What we focus on grows. Catch your kids doing things right more often than exposing mistakes and wrongdoing so they aren’t afraid of trying new things. “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV.) 

3. Let go of control 

Give your children as much free will as you can tolerate, so they figure out how to make good decisions and solve their own problems. The Bible is full of instructions on how to make life work and feel fulfilled, yet God lets us choose obedience or rebellion. 

Invaluable lessons for life are better caught than taught. A wise man in our church challenged me to heap responsibility on my grade-school-aged boys—to treat them as if they were three years older than they were. 

Crazy scary? Oh yes! Did it work? Wow, did it ever! My boys rose to the challenge, their self-confidence soared, and they discovered failure is not fatal—just educational. 

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6 KJV). 

Just do your best 

Parenting is an imperfect process. Lord knows there were times I lost my temper, threw fits, overreacted, and modeled behavior I would never tolerate. You will, too. Do your best, and when you blow it, reset with an apology and explanation where necessary.  You don’t have to be perfect. Just love those kids like Jesus loves you, train them up the best you can, and when you let them go, they will flourish. 

My boys are all grown up now, but they walked into manhood with all the skills they needed to win at life. They know they are loved to the moon and back by their mom, their dad, and their Savior. 

They know how to solve problems. They work hard. And they go out of their way to help strangers. 

It’s my prayer that you enjoy the blessing of deep relationships with your children as a result of your love, instruction, and courageous humility. 

Consider a few extra resources:

Five biblical truths to anchor your children’s identity in Christ

The only hope for parenting

Live perfectly imperfect

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Robyn Dykstra

Robyn Dykstra is a captivating retreat and conference speaker and the best-selling author of The Widow Wore Pink: A True Story of Life After Loss and the Transforming Power of a Loving God. The memoir traces her journey from Playboy Bunny to Bible teacher and proclaims the faithfulness of God when her husband died of a heart attack at thirty-nine, leaving Robyn with two young boys to raise on her own.  Robyn is happily remarried to Mr. 4-Ever, (or you can call him Dave). They are in full-time ministry, speaking across the country and inviting others to trust God and follow Jesus. Inquire about having Robyn share her story at your next event.  www.robyndykstra.com 


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