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Parenting in Fear and Trembling
By Kay Brown

Last week, thinking about writing a monthly column about parenting absolutely terrified me.

Fortunately, that very same week, our oldest child got his own place and I began to see a flickering light at the end of a long, child-rearing tunnel. Godly parenting itself is actually the terrifying proposition; just writing about it should be a lark. When I realized how much that kid moving out bolstered me to rear my other babies, I just knew I could encourage someone else.

They eventually do move out.

Someday, beetles and worms will not be waiting in a plastic, decorated, Christmas snack box on my counter to ‘surprise’ unsuspecting cookie hunters. Someday, I will be able to find the duct tape without a two-hour search. Someday, I will go an entire day without hearing myself roar like a prison warden.

For the most part, ‘someday’ seems pretty far away.

We do laugh a lot. My clever children know I take parenting (read: ‘controlling’) seriously; if we did everything my way we would never have any fun, whatsoever. Grandly scheming, they throw me off-balance by executing diversionary tactics that would delight the greatest of political and military strategists. Often, I am completely absorbed in their latest maneuvers before I become aware that professionals have successfully distracted me.

It is a challenge to remain obsessive and compulsive when rearing seven children.

Last night, a fellow writer asked how I ever had time to clean under the beds, and I had a good, hard laugh. I do not have the faintest idea what is under the beds in this house. I just hope it does not eat anything we need. My wise sister told me once to remember that we all support several ecosystems in our homes, and that to clean too much might destroy one of them. All our ecosystems are thriving, I am certain.

I do not want to look under the beds, however, just in case.

The discomforting thought that my children will imitate my parenting skills as they reproduce is almost as horrifying as the actual task of being a parent. Moments ago, my darling nine year-old informed me that she was soon to complete her composition about being beaten. As my eyes widened, with visions of human services representatives banging at my door, I gulped and asked her to elaborate.

"You know, Mom, about Jesus and the crucifixion. I want to write about that."

Whew!

In the end, parenting does all boil down to someone being beaten. It is not, however, about beating the children, or about beating yourself up for doing things wrong. Good parenting is about realizing why the Lord Jesus Christ was beaten in the first place; He received our punishment for messing up. Sinful natures keep both parents and children from being perfect and good parenting is about understanding, accepting and working around that one, central fact.

Good parenting is about love.

I have read over fifty parenting books, and very little of any of their contents is reflected in anything I write. For one thing, none of those authors is raising my children. Those people have great ideas, but I can never think of even one of them when I need it. Being a mom is about crisis management and no one could ever adequately prepare for the challenges of managing seven hungry, whiny, immature tiny persons. One only succeeds by the grace of the Living God.

He knows all about love.

So, in gathering information for a parenting column, I need not look further than the hearts of those involved. All conflict is resolvable when hearts are willing to listen, learn and live Godly love. As the Lord Jesus continues to comfort me through my struggles, I can share that comfort with you. Be encouraged! It could be worse, you know.

Perhaps someday, you will be trying to write a parenting column!
Kay Brown homeschools her rambunctious brood in the mountains of Northern New Mexico while dreaming of getting her laundry caught up two days in a row. Despite a burning desire to share deep spiritual truths, she finds herself struggling with the same weaknesses as everyone else and clinging to the Lord Jesus.

LIFE LESSONS FROM 2004:
I learned that you have to be specific when you want a teenage male to do something. You can lead a son to take the garbage out, but unless you literally put it in his hand and point him out the door, he probably won’t "remember" to do it! (Deb Porter)

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