Parent Like Your Father

It’s no secret that how we were parented as children shapes us, both in positive and negative ways. When we become parents ourselves, we look back on our experiences as children and often sift through them to determine which traditions, rhythms, and ways of our family of origin we want to take with us into our new family and those we want to set aside. 

Some of us intend to replicate the same Christmas traditions our parents had for us. Others may have a list of things we vow we’ll never say that our parents always said—like those “momisms” our mother often repeated. Or we might desire to have different house rules than the ones we grew up with, either more lax or strict. 

And then the inevitable happens: you find yourself saying the same things your father always said—the ones you vowed you’d never say. Or you end up enacting the very same rules and consequences. And you shake your head in disbelief.

There are things we appreciate and value from our childhood as well as things our parents did that we don’t want to emulate.

But there is one parent we should always aspire to be like. There is one parent whose words and rules and ways are always perfect. It is this parent we want to image to our children. 

Our Father in heaven. 

The Perfect Parent

Have you ever considered the way your Father in heaven parents you? As adopted children of the Father, coheirs with Christ our elder brother, God is our Father. But unlike earthly fathers, our heavenly Father’s parenting is perfect. 

  • He is consistent in the way He responds to us. He never changes and we always know what to expect from him (Mal. 3:6).
  • He gives us boundaries for our good. His rules for our lives are perfect and necessary (Psalm 19:7).
  • He provides for and meets all our needs. Because He’s met our greatest need in Christ, we trust Him to meet all our lesser needs (Matt.6:31–32; Rom. 8:32).
  • He teaches and trains us in the way we should go. He does so according to where we are and exactly as we need (Prov. 12:28).
  • He disciplines us when we wander off the path of life and restores us back to Himself by His grace (Heb. 12:7–10).
  • He is patient with us as we grow in our faith, often teaching and reteaching the same lessons over and over (Ex. 34:6). 
  • He loves us with a perfect love, a love that isn’t conditioned upon what we have done or will do (Eph. 2:4–5). 

What a marvelous and gracious Father! While our parents raised us as best they could given their fallen nature, our Father in heaven parents us with righteousness. All that He says and does is right and true. All that He gives us is for our good. His training and discipline ensure our transformation into the image of his Son. In all these ways and more, we can look to the parenting of our Father in heaven as a model for our own parenting. And as we do so, we introduce our children to the God who loved them first.

Introducing Our Children to the Father

While our children will learn about their Father in heaven from others, too—in church, from Sunday School teachers, and other believing adults who speak into their lives—it is we as parents who first introduce our children to God. And what a privilege that is! We get to teach our children about the God who made them, who loves them, and who made a way for them to be in relationship with Him. 

One of the greatest ways we can introduce our children to the Father is when we reflect who He is to them.We point our children to the Father when we parent our children as God parents us.

  • When we are consistent in the ways we respond to them, we image our always consistent Father.
  • When we provide for what they need, we reflect Jehovah Jireh, the one who always meets our needs.
  • When we teach them who God is and what He has done, we image the one who shows us the path of life.
  • When we set limits and teach them what God has commanded, we point them to the one whose ways are perfect and just.
  • When we discipline them and show them the way of repentance, we point them to the gospel and Christ’s work for them.
  • When we are patient with their growth, we show them the Master Gardener who patiently tends their hearts.
  • When we love them unconditionally, we image the Father who loved them first.

Take time to consider how your Father in heaven parents you. Rejoice in his perfect love and care. Then consider the ways you can show your children the Father as you parent them. “As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him” (Psalm 103:13).

About the Author

Christina Fox

Christina Fox

Christina Fox is a counselor, retreat speaker, and author of multiple books including her latest, Like Our Father: How God Parents Us and What That Matters for Our Parenting. Her passion is to help people see how the gospel … read more …

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