This article is the third in a series of five on Spiritual Solutions for the Family. The preceding two articles are “Remember Who Our Children Really are” and “Parenting as God Does”.
Yet Another List of Common Parenting Problems
In the last two articles we focused on a group of parenting challenges that are solved partly by remembering that our children are our spiritual brothers and sisters and on another list of problems that are alleviated by emulating God’s own parenting methods.
This time we turn our attention to a third list of commonly faced parenting challenges. You will resonate with the first three because they are problems that almost all kids face to one degree or another. And the last four are challenges that all parents face at some point.
- Kids who are swayed and influenced by friends
- Inactivity and apathy in our children
- Rebellious kids
- Parental loneliness
- Fear of our kids
- The pressure and self reliance of “going it alone” in parenting
- Cookie cutter, one-size-fits-all parenting ideas:
The Approach of a Steward
Since we understand that we are not the “owners” of our kids, but merely the stewards over them, and that God is their true father, we can take a very spiritual approach to our parenting and can use what is perhaps the most direct and effective form of prayer that exists: That of the steward asking the Master…..that of the “second parent” asking the “First Parent.”
The “babysitter” asking the true Parent
“More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of” said Alfred Lord Tennyson.”
Prayer happens on so many levels and for so many reasons, but if we viewed it as a spectrum, with the least appropriate, least-chance-of-being-answered prayers on one end and the most appropriate, sure to be answered prayers on the other end, a parent’s prayer about a child (a prayer for insight, for help, for a child’s need) would be on the extreme “most” end of the spectrum.
We are surrogate parents, mortal babysitters really, and petitioning the true Father constitutes a singular and unique genre of prayer, a special kind of stewardship communication that is as direct and effectual as the Prophet praying for the Church.
Not all prayers are answered in the way we wish they could be, but prayer is the ultimate spiritual solution, and in this chapter we will explore various ways that prayer can be approached in a family setting and in the attitude of a child seeking help from a Father who has sent another of his children into the care of the first.
Abraham Lincoln could have been thinking about parenting when he said “There are times when I am driven to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I have no place else to go!”
Asking NOW rather than Later
We were talking to a mom who told us of a very difficult problem she was having with her daughter. She was a faithful Church member, so at one point we asked her if she had prayed about the problem.
“Not yet,” she said, “I feel I have to do all I can about it myself before I burden the Lord with it.”
An interesting response. On the one hand we admired her for her initiative and for wanting to be proactive about it. On the other hand, this was a very difficult problem, and she clearly needed divine help.
Do we sometimes get too caught up with admonitions like “First work as though everything depended on you and then pray as though everything depended God”, or with scriptures like “first study it out in your mind” or in her case, a reluctance to “burden” the Lord?
Of course we should not ask frivolously, and of course our own thought and effort can help, and will likely make our prayer more specific and more earnest.
But the Lord asks us to cast our burdens on Him, and He wants to help and lead us and even to intervene when the worry is beyond our ability to solve or resolve.
The “Self-correcting” Nature of Prayer
The wonderful thing about prayer, and it seems particularly true with the prayer of a parent for a child, is that it is “self-correcting.” As we pray, we sometimes are given to know more about what it is we are praying for and to better understand what we should be asking Heavenly Father for.
One mother was praying about her son’s poor grades in school and as she listened for answers felt impressed to have his hearing checked. She soon discovered that his difficulty had everything to do with his ears and nothing to do with his brain.
A dad was praying that his son would do better on his little league team and, during the prayer began to realize that the boy wanted to do art after school rather than baseball.
A mom praying for her teenager’s testimony felt inspired that his faith was fine and that it was a new friend that was the problem.
Heavenly Father essentially says to us “Come to me in prayer (particularly for your children) and I will teach you for what ye shall ask.”
Let’s face it, we sometimes don’t know enough to know what to ask for. Pray anyway, and the spirit will inspire us first on the questions and then on the answers.
It is never “too soon to pray.” If we are asking for the wrong thing or if there is preparation or action we should take along with our prayer, we will feel and learn of those things even as we pray.
Better to be too early to pray than too late!
Parenting Challenges Revisited
With these thoughts in mind, lets revisit our list of parenting challenges that we started this article with and think about how prayer and a stewardship attitude can help:
- Kids who are swayed and influenced by friends: Our prayers and our children’s prayers can inoculate against peer pressure.
- Inactivity and apathy in our children: The Spirit is what keeps them at bay.
- Rebellious kids: Instead of a battle of wills, stewardship prayer can make it a battle of Spirit where the right wins.
- Parental loneliness: Raising kids alone can feel terribly isolated, but raising them with God can give strength and often prompts us to discuss and work in tandem with other parents.
- Fear of our kids: Instead of trying to win them over and please them, we can work at pleasing God and win our children’s respect.
- The pressure and self reliance of “going it alone” in parenting: Just admitting that the challenge of raising a child is too great for us begins the humble process of seeking and receiving God’s help
- Cookie cutter, one-size-fits-all parenting ideas: Going to God for insights on our own children helps us avoid oversimplified or pat answers.
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