Parents are Pictures
The parent/child relationship is a mirror, reflecting to us the relationship between us and our heavenly Father. The writer of Hebrews in chapter 12 encourages the church to endure the race that God has set before us, because "God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?" (Hebrew 12:7). Parenting is a unique opportunity for the parent and child alike to understand symbolically the nature and character of God. Parents provide, love, nurture, discipline, correct, bless, and teach. All of these things are done out of love in hopes that the child will grow into godly maturity.
Children exhibit a need for wisdom and instruction. They display the nearsightedness that we so often face ourselves when confronted with life. There are many times when my children will break into tears over something, because they cannot see that what they are so distraught over really is inconsequential or because they do not understand that their father is able to help them with ease. They also have a tendency to reject discipline and instruction when I know that their obedience will serve them best in the end. It is in these moments of my children's nearsightedness that I realize how big God is, how short my own vision is, and how he loves me and works for my good as a son.
Parents Need the Gospel
Whether trying to stay sane through a toddler tantrum or keep your cool with a sarcastic teenager, parenting is a challenge. We fail in frustration. We fail, because our own selfishness gets in the way. We may even fail because our own parents failed to show us love and lead us to Jesus. The task of loving, disciplining, and leading a sinner who is not always grateful or receptive is many times overwhelming. This is where the gospel steps in. We need the gospel first to forgive us for our failures as parents. Christ died to forgive us for our limitations, our self-centeredness, and those nights where what was on the television seemed more important than the little girl standing in front of it desperately wanting our attention. Go to the gospel first for forgiveness. Repent of the areas where you have refused to shepherd your children toward Jesus. Second, go to the gospel for empowerment. God has placed your children in your life for you to lead them. He will equip you by the power of the Spirit to do this work! Look to the loving example of your heavenly Father and the wisdom of his word to lead you in loving your children. Let your children see you living out the gospel before them, turning from sin and trusting in Christ. The foundation of parenting is the gospel. It's what your children need more than anything else you can impart to them, and it is the necessary component of being a faithful parent.
You can find the previous two post on children and parenting here: