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women, wives and moms---
about your family, faith and future.
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I show you how it's done. And not done.
I hold your hand as you find what matters to the Savior.
And let go of those things that mattered to you, but not to Him.
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               Sonya Contreras

Stages of Parental Control

As parents, we think that we control our children, and in some ways we do, by directing, modeling, disciplining, but in so many other ways, we have no control. 

Even the start of life is a miracle we cannot control.
We speak of “birth control” and “family planning,” but Who actually gives life?
Wonder how some “misfit” women can conceive multiple children without thought to care for them, yet nice couples cannot? 
When couples cannot conceive, where do they go for help?
In the Old Testament, even during times when the entire nation was not listening to God, these women— Hannah, Samson’s mother, Elizabeth and countless other women—went to God. 
A new life is a blessing from God. From God means it is His gift

Can anyone control the formation of a child in the womb? (Other than cause deformities by drugs and alcohol.) 
Can you insure its “perfect” form?
We take ultra-sounds to see what is happening, but there’s little we can do to change what happens.
During this time there are so many unknowns. We are relieved when we know the gender!
But what about his heart, his fingers and toes, his eating. Is he okay?
That’s a God thing. He forms the baby in the womb.
"For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother's womb" Psalm 139:13.
We again feel helpless.
We pray for help.

We may think we are in control when we have a “due date.” But what is that but a suggestion?
Each baby comes when he is ready.
Does that cause unrest to the father? Does that make the mother nervous? Yup.
Why? They are not in control.

Unfortunately, the control doesn’t get any better.

When that father holds that fragile, tiny baby for the first time, the wonder, awe, and miracle fills him. This life is totally dependent upon him for everything—protecting from harm, and instructing in what is good and right. How does he do it?

Each one of these moments are times when God stops the parent so they can look to Him.
God should be recognized and praised.
But this is just the beginning.

The child reaches the age of two. 
The first two-year-old tantrum happens.
The “terrible two’s” is the child trying to usurp control from his parent. He wants to do things "his way."
The parent realizes he does not control this kid. (He also may realize his own self-control is on shaky grounds.)
Where does a parent go for help?
Help comes from God. And that is not just a cheap saying.
God gives the strength and tools to direct that child to know God.
Part of that instruction is shaping his will to submit to your will. That means your will must be in line with God’s will.

Couples, who didn’t care to talk to God before they had children, now want their child to be polite, well-mannered, obedient and “good.”
But the premise behind all those “acts” is there is a God Who is good and we are responsible to Him.
To instruct a child without God as the foundation is to remove the premise or “why” behind the need to be good.
The instruction may work, because God’s principles when obeyed lead to blessing, but the reason is temporary.
Without the parents seeking God for their instruction and their foundation, they soon find they have no rationale behind why they must make Johnny obey. Isn’t it just my will against theirs? And whose is right?
Why choose good?
When the cost of doing right is too much, and no one else is doing it, why bother?
Who watches anyway?
Is there a reward for goodness in a world where justice isn’t?

The parental control slips.
Without the parent's acknowledging God’s standard, who should direct this child? 
Couldn’t anyone teach a child to say, “Please,” and “Thank you,” and wash his hands before he eats?
But there is more to life than just being polite and doing good.

Because we as parents can’t raise a child without help. [And it DOES NOT take a village (that is socialism, that is not Biblical).]
Parents must depend upon God for their standard, direction, and anchor. ("A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart" Ecclesiastes 4:12.)
By uniting their efforts in discipline and correction of the self-willed child, the parents direct his will to align with God’s. That involves correction, discipline, training, and instruction. It’s a sharpening of his conscience to be in tune with what God wills. 
The parent cannot do this without knowing and seeking God’s Word himself. It’s not forming the child’s will to the parent’s, as much as it is conforming the child’s will to God’s. We are merely the go-between.

Without God’s standard, the terrible twos grow into the tragedy of the three-year-old independent of his father’s will. The father and mother watch in silent horror as this urchin controls their lives in ways they couldn’t imagine.

Many people try to reason with their two-year-old, to allow him to choose what he will believe.
Children’s conscience must be sharpened to truth, instructed in right, and corrected in good to know it.
The Bible says, "The heart is more deceitful than all else, and is desperately sick: Who can understand it?" Jeremiah 17:9.
When left on our own, no man seeks God.
To allow a child to “find God” on his own is asking the cycle of judges to be repeated, where “everyone did that which was right in their own eyes.” 

Know where that got the nation of Israel?
In Trouble.
Know where that will lead any child, forsaken by his parents to instruct him in God’s standard? 
Doing his own thing.
What happens when man does his own thing?
He ruins what he touches. He becomes sick in God’s sight.
He does not please God and therefore cannot be happy.

Where are the parents in this scenario?
Wringing their hands along the side-lines wondering what happened.

In the Old Testament, when a child became accountable for his own actions and he chose to rebel against his parents, his parents were to stone them to death.

"If any man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey his father or his mother, and when they chastise him, he will not even listen to them, then his father and mother shall seize him, and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gateway of his hometown. . . .Then all the men of his city shall stone him to death; so you shall remove the evil from your midst, and all Israel will hear of it and fear" Deuteronomy 21:18-21.

What would happen if we did that today?
Wouldn’t parents seek God daily to make sure they were teaching what they should?
The parents weren’t stoned, you will notice. It was the child’s decision.

That shows another thing about parenting that relieves the control of a parent. Proverbs speaks a lot about the foolish son being a pain to his mom (See Proverbs 15:20, 17:25, 19:13).  She was suppose to beat the foolishness out of him. But there comes a point when she is no longer accountable for her son’s actions. He must shoulder the weight. The son was stoned. 

Ezekiel 18 says that the sin of the father is no longer paid by the son, nor the son’s sin by the father. It is paid by the individual. "The soul who sins will die" Ezekiel 18:4.

That does not lesson the responsibility of a parent to instruct, correct, discipline a child while he is a child. But it does show we cannot MAKE our child do right. We can encourage, co-erce, but we cannot MAKE HIM OBEY.
We don’t control their heart.
We can control their actions until they reach a certain age, but their heart is their own.
We can make them very miserable until they obey. And they must submit to God in obedience. 

When our children are teenagers, we see our control even less. They are learning skills for their own life. Teaching them to drive is letting go of a parent's control. You can't hold the steering wheel as they drive.

You are left out of decisions. Your input is no longer required or asked. Your control, little as it was, is now smaller.
Your dependence upon God seems to grow, because that is the only way you can “control” what they do, by telling God.

I haven't even covered after they are out of the house.
Parents may counsel, instruct, and warn, but they cannot choose for their adult children.
They are, after all, no longer "children," except in your eyes.

Parenthood shows us that very little is in our control. And what we do control, must be brought before God, in order for our own lives to stay where they should be.
Wherever stage of parenthood you find yourself in, submit to God and He will direct your steps.
Do parents control? Not really. We just learn where our own control comes from and submit to God who directs all our steps.

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Great comments on parental control. And the lack of it. What a blessing to raise children who love the Lord and who continue to want you to be part of their lives. No control, just love and a good relationship.

Author of Biblical fiction, married to my best friend, and challenged by eight sons’ growing pains as I write about what matters.

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