“I am afraid that parenting confusion and dysfunction often begin with parents having an ownership view of parenting… It operates on this perspective of parenting: “These children belong to me, so I can parent them in the way I see fit.” Now, no parent actually says that, but it tends to be the perspective that most of us fall into. In the press of overwhelming responsibilities and a frenetic schedule, we lose sight of what parenting is really about.We look at our children as belonging to us, and we end up doing things that are short-sighted, not helpful in the long-run, more reactive than goal-oriented, and outside of God’s great, big, wise plan.
Ownership parenting is not overtly selfish, abusive, or destructive; it involves a subtle shift in thinking and motivation that puts us on a trajectory that leads our parenting far away from God’s design. This shift is subtle because it takes place in little, mundane moments of family life— moments that seem so small and insignificant that the people in the middle of them are unaware of the movement that has taken place. But the shifts are significant precisely because they do take place in insignificant little moments, because those little moments are the addresses where our parenting lives. It’s the repeated cycle of little unplanned moments that is the soul-shaping workroom of parenting. Ownership parenting is motivated and shaped by what parents want for their children and from their children. It is driven by a vision of what we want our children to be and what we want our children to give us in return. It seems right, it feels right, and it does many good things, but it is foundationally misguided and misdirected and will not produce what God intends in the lives that he has entrusted to our care. There, I’ve said it! Good parenting, which does what God intends it to do, begins with this radical and humbling recognition that our children don’t actually belong to us. Rather, every child in every home, everywhere on the globe, belongs to the One who created him or her. Children are God’s possession (see Ps. 127: 3) for his purpose.
That means that his plan for parents is that we would be his agents in the lives of these ones that have been formed into his image and entrusted to our care. The word that the Bible uses for this intermediary position is ambassador. It really is the perfect word for what God has called parents to be and to do. The only thing an ambassador does, if he’s interested in keeping his job, is to faithfully represent the message, methods, and character of the leader who has sent him... Every parent everywhere is called to recognize that they have been put on earth at a particular time and in a particular location to do one thing in the lives of their children. parenting is not first about what we want for our children or from our children, but about what God in grace has planned to do through us in our children. To lose sight of this is to end up with a relationship with our children that at the foundational level is neither Christian nor true parenting because it has become more about our will and our way than about the will and way of our Sovereign Savior King.
Tripp, Paul David. Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family (Kindle Locations 155-191). Crossway. Kindle Edition
Also published on Medium.