Ryan was dedicated in church this past Sunday. For those not in the know, it is basically where Kristen and I commit to raising Ryan in a godly way so that he too may come to know God and be in relationship with Him. This has led me to thinking about how one is to do that.
Parenting in general is something that everyone, at least everyone who has had kids, has an opinion on. Using pacifiers or not, how often to feed them, how to lay them in bed, what to read to them, the list is near endless. If one was to let it get to you, it could be quite daunting and overwhelming. Sometimes it can seem like if we are not taking a certain piece of advice than it could directly affect how Ryan turns out. Of course this gets complicated when you run into advice that is opposite of each other. I know that what we do or don’t do can have an effect on how Ryan grows up and matures, but is God involved in this process too? I think most, if not all Christians would answer yes to this question, but does that line up with how we act about raising our kids? I’m not sure.
I’ve met parents who were very Godly, and have had kids who have struggled seriously with or completely rejected the faith. I also know people who had a very limited religious upbringing but still came to faith, myself being one of them. To me this demonstrates there is more than just upbringing at work here. God has to be involved and at some point our children have to respond to Him and not simply to us. It is no doubt easier for a kid/teen to go along with what Mom and Dad say while they live with them than it is when they are out of the house. It becomes a question of who is being responded to. If it is just my parenting that is being responded to, then it is always possible that Ryan or any other children we have will stop responding when my parenting becomes much more limited after they leave my direct supervision. If it is God they are responding to then, well let’s just say that it’s a bit harder to get away from Him.
To me this is incredibly refreshing and relieving. God is in this too and I need to remember to include him in the process. It is not that I have all the answers and thus can lead my son or even others to the all the knowledge that they need to be accepted. All I can do is point Ryan towards God so that we may go on this journey of faith together. I may be a more experienced traveler on the road, and be able to guide him in certain ways, but it is not all up to me or Kristen. I can try to keep my child safe from all the stuff out in the world, or even teach him to engage it in against a Christian worldview, but I can’t force him to be in relationship with God. He will have to choose that himself, all Kristen and I can do is help guide him as best we can and try not to take our responsibility too seriously or too flippantly.