Episode 67 – The Best Thing You Can Do For Your Kids
We all want the best for our kids. We want them to have fun, be safe, thrive, and grow in their relationships with each other and with God.
As a parent how do I do this right!?!
Join Josh and Kit as they discuss the best thing we can do for our kids; the best gift we can give to our children.
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So I have to say in my 20 years at regeneration, there is a population of people that we hear from probably as much or more than anybody else. And that population is parents, parents calling because they’re concerned about their kids, their kids have gone off the rails, the kids are acting out sexually, their kids are addicted to pornography, their kids just came out as gay or transgender. And these parents, what can I do? Tell me what can I can do to help my kids? And probably if they’re more honest, a lot of them are asking, you know, give me the, the secret sauce, the recipe. So things will just going to go back to normal, a lot we can say about that. But we want to answer that question. We want to answer this question like what can you do if you’re a parent, what can you do? And we’re going to broaden it. So maybe your kids are doing great. Maybe your kids are really little. Maybe you’re just loving being a parent. We’re still going to answer the question. What’s the most important thing that you can do as a parent to help your kids? Josh Glaser and Kit Elmer here. Kit. You have the answer.
Well, I’ve learned the hard way. I’m learning the hard way.
So am I. So am I so this is what we’re gonna unpack for you today. The most important thing you can do as a parent to help your kids, whether they’re doing well or doing poorly, whether you like to track their on or you don’t. The most important thing you can do is to work on yourself. Open yourself, your own journey to the healing and transformative power of God. That’s the truth. So kit, why? Why is that? You know, like when our kids are struggling or when they’re doing well, like we want to focus on them. Why focus on ourselves?
You know, I’m just reminded of that first PG conference we had and we just spontaneously were asking parents afterwards like, what did you, what did you get out of this? And like 99% unsolicited. Really, we didn’t set them up to say this said, wow, I thought I was here for my kids, but I realize I have things I need to work on. I have things that I need to go to God with when we are in a place where we’re honest with God, when we’re growing in our intimacy with God, we are so much more able to navigate these difficulties with our kids. Like we just were in a completely different place where we’re less reactive or less judgemental. We’re less, you know,
um, demanding. And so clearly, you know, anytime, any, anything, whether it’s parenting, leadership, marriage, the best thing we bring is this ability to be vulnerable and to be growing in our intimacy with God. Yeah. Some of you parents listening are, well, some of you are not parents and you’re like, oh, should I just stop? No, no, don’t stop now because this does apply to our, our, the different places we have in life where we are in leadership where we’re helping others. But some of you parents are listening and you’re saying, well, I don’t really have time to work on myself or what do you mean by that? Yeah. We hope to convince you this is not just a, an extra or a bonus exercise for some parents who really, really need it. We really hope to convince you this is key. Yeah. I mean, God’s heart for all of us is that we would continue to be growing in his image, continuing to be conformed into the likeness of Christ and the ups and downs of our own lives, including our parenting would be transforming us even as it’s transforming and forming our kids.
I’m more and more convinced of that, that so much of God’s heart and parenting is not just, Oh, now it’s your turn to help form, you know, shape a life as somebody else is working on me. Oh my God. If I’ll let them. The most humbling thing in the world without question. I think, and before we started recording, we talked about how, you know, just this different scenario, like what it would be like if we’re feeling loved and accepted and you know, close to God how we would respond to our children, especially in times of, you know, difficulty versus not, you know, where we’re feeling, um, alone and we’re feeling unloved and we’re feeling far from God and how we would respond. I mean, it’s just completely different. Yeah, completely different. I don’t know what it is, but I feel like there’s this, there’s almost this unspoken agreement and it’s, it’s not good that it’s okay for parents to kind of look at how their kids are doing or how other people’s kids are doing and make a judgment on, on the parent, you know, like, Oh man, you know, the church and this, that kid, that kid screaming that blue, who’s that?
What kind of parent is that? You know, what’s wrong with that person? Oh look at those kids. They’re sitting really nicely in church or, uh, [inaudible] they must be great parents. I mean, we, we’ve heard that from our, like, you guys must be incredible. And I go, no, our kids are incredible. I think that’s what you’re talking about. Like thank you. Um, so I think that, and I think that’s even that reality in church settings or maybe in the world setting is probably something we need to, we need to address right from the get go. Like, you know, one of the, cause one of the big resistance to like acknowledging my own issues and working on them is, is the idea that, you know, how my parent, how my kids are doing means something about me. Um, but if I can release how my kids are doing to that being about their journey, then all of a sudden I’m left with so much more room to, to, you know, that’s your journey. I’ve got my journey numb, I’m involved new journey. But like now it’s not a representation. Now I’m not reacting because you’re being a poor representative of me. You know, like,
and what a trap to even, even if you were well-intentioned and you say that to somebody, oh, you must be such great parents because look at your children like, wow, that just feeds this not good part of us. I go, yeah, yeah, you know, you know, and, and wow, like, that’s not what we want to do for each other. Um, plus they don’t see the whole picture. You know, chances are there’s a whole lot they’re not seeing, you know, but I just think that’s, that’s something that we think is well-intentioned, but it can really be a trap. Um, and so I think we need to be careful about that.
Yeah. So think about it this way, listeners, your, your kids are carrying a burden of their own or burdens of their own just by growing up in today’s world and especially if they’re teenagers. I heard a speaker say at a recent conference, he said, look, just assume that when your kids come home from school, their day was harder than your day. And he kind of unpacked that more, but your kids are carrying this. Just that the difficulty of growing up, they don’t need on their shoulders to also then carry the burden of representing you. That’s really so good. So let them, let them off the hook, let them off the hook, let their ups and downs, uh, be attributed to the journey they’re on. Yeah. So that they don’t have to also then, you know, be supporting you somehow.
And as long as we parent out of that place of how is this gonna make me look good? We’re sunk. Yeah. We’re just not gonna make good choices about parenting out of that place.
And the, and the temptation to do so I think is, is, is evidence of our own brokenness and evidence that we do need to focus on ourselves. Like what? Why am I putting some of the kids why, why did, did her bad day or her bad attitude or her bad decisions or his bad attitude? Why? Why am I like so threatened by that? Like, what’s going on in that
to what we started with? What’s the deficiency in me? Wow. How am I not feeling okay? How am I looking to them to fill that place in me with which they can do? How, how could I possibly burden them with that? How do I get what I need from God? Yeah. Back to that really powerful promise and the antidote, you know,
I think another example of the fruit of it is, or for parents who have trouble letting their kids go, oh yeah. Oh Gosh. As our kids individualize individually, whether it’s, you know, as, a little kid of three who are, you know, learning to dress themselves or teenagers. We’ve got, you know, we’ve got three, almost four adolescents in our home right now and man, they are becoming their own people. And, uh, I think that, um, that where I’m broken or where I’m sinful, that’s hard. You know, I want to hold onto them. I don’t want them to grow up, but, but as, as I allow the Lord to work in my own life and give meaning through my parenting, but also beyond my parenting and give me an identity that’s bigger than, that includes parenting, but it’s bigger than parenting, I’m free to [inaudible] and just kind of embrace and enjoy letting them go.
Well, you know, I think, um, that’s so important, this idea of honoring them and letting them go. Like, like we had talked earlier that the fact that they want to assume more responsibility or even spend more time away from home or you know, figure they’re trying to figure out who they are apart from us. And we need to affirm that. And honor that as threatening is that is, that’s also a really good thing that they’re doing, cause they will be away from us. I remember God telling me early on, like my kids were little and he was like, wow, you’re gonna need to begin to let them go a little bit. Even now, because if you don’t, when they’re 18, they’re not going to want to leave home and you’re going to fall apart when they do. Like you got to. Yeah. We’ve got to encourage them to, to individually. Yeah. That’s a healthy thing.
Yeah. So, so a paradigm shift here is as they’re going through that season, I think, I think parenting is hard work. And so I think one of the, one of the temptations is this becomes our whole focus. Yeah. One of the gifts of making space in our lives to focus on God, what are you doing in me right now? That’s great. Um, then we actually get to enter into a deeper life, a richer life with God. And as our kids individually, we, we kind of can learn on a deeper level what it means to lay down our lives for God. You know, I think one of the things about parenting in general, like our job, our, what we’re trying to do here is work ourselves out of a job. Yeah. And not that we ever stopped being parents to our kids, but, but I think what other job do you have in the world that like the end goal is the person you’ve been pouring so much into, so much into for so long leaves. Yeah. But that’s exactly what, what God’s designed like. So what’s that about? Well, that’s, I think part of that is us learning to enter into that sacrificial love.
Well, and you know, I can look at my own self and parenting adult children now and I’m like, shoot, I wish I knew some of what I know now back then. Because in some ways I’m a better parent because I have let them go. I’m not so concerned about, you know, controlling them and having them represent me well, you know, because I’ve had to let them go. And so my, my love, oh, hopefully is more characterized by freedom and less about control. Um, because I, you know, they’re adults, but I think some of that can be kind of apply so much even when they’re, they’re growing up.
Okay. We have your daughters on the line right now to ask them. No, I’m kidding. But that’s my, my point is, I mean, I heard you, even as you were sharing, you said, you know, my love is, I hope and I think again, like your kids, my kids will have their own ideas about like, you know, w how well did my parents do this? Like they do. But the point is like, what we’re trying to talk about here is like, I’m, I’m parenting and I’m living before the Lord right now and he is parenting me and I’m giving him room to grow me up. Yeah. And so I love that. You know, my, my kids do sometimes have grace for my faults and other times don’t, you know, like that. Like I’m not going to them for grace. I, I’m going to God for grace. Lord, I’m still trying to grow up. I’m still trying to become more than man. I’m created to be more than that. I’m created to be. And that again comes back to this idea of like our, my most important job is allowing God to continue to work in, in my life, even before [inaudible]
children. A, it’s a real gift to our children to have that be our main focus because that will in remarkable ways trickle down to how we treat them every day.
The other areas, this comes up in our, and we, you mentioned earlier our PG conference. So shameless plug for regenerations parenting conferences, we call them RPG events, cultivating purity in a sex-saturated culture. And they’re really all about helping parents become better parents. I mean, these events are for parents. They’re not for, for, you know, parents to get information to pass along to their kids that are really designed for parents who want to grow as parents in regards to how to, how to shepherd their kids in a culture that’s very sexually confused. But sexually speaking, one of the areas I think that a lot of parents would do well to again allow the lord to open up some places in their life is their own sexual stories. Hmm. Where have you been sexually? What have you done sexually? What’s happened to you sexually? How’s your, how’s your, you know, the current state of your, your sexuality, your, your view about sex in general. Because if you’re trying to shepherd your kids and it’s actually confused world and you’ve got hang ups and struggles and or stuff from your past that you just, you know, are still running from, it’s not going to help you. It’s, it’s the, those things are going to trip you up and ultimately it won’t help your kids. Yeah.
I did confess to my kids, um, some things when they routines, because when I thought they were ready to hear some of my story, I wanted them to understand that, you know, we’re all in process and I’m not, I’m not who I am today. Like who I am today isn’t who I was when I was in my teens and 20s. You know, and it’s been a hard road and I’ve made mistakes and I wanted them to know that because I think, you know, sometimes we put this, this, you know, being a Christian person on a pedestal and it’s hard for our kids because they can’t relate to that. And, you know, I didn’t want them to, to feel, uh, less than, um, it w as they’re struggling because we all struggle. And so I did. And, and, uh, you know, that was, that wasn’t easy, but I, I, I think they received it well, and I think I did it appropriately and age appropriately. And, um, and we’ve talked, uh, as life continues to go on too. So I think that is important.
Well, I think had another corollary that comes to mind as you’re sharing that is as we kind of allow ourselves to still be people who are becoming and the God is working in, I think it frees us up to, to be, at least I’ll say this, it’s freed me up to more freely ask for forgiveness and confess my wrongs when I’ve, when I’ve wronged my kids, when I’ve made a bad parenting mood. So important. I think there is a tendency in me to want to justify myself as a parent. You know, like I’m the parent, you know, who are you to question me? You know, like, um, and you know, I’m not saying my kids have, you know, free free reign to like be disrespectful, but when they point out something and they have, you know, my own hypocrisy or you know, when I’m telling them to do something and I do something similar or when I’ve just treated them in a way that hurt their feelings.
Yeah. When I reflect on that and they were right and now, now instead of it being just an indictment on, I’m such a terrible parent, I am still a person who’s becoming who God wants me to be. Lord, you saw that. They saw that. I’m embarrassed and I can go back and confess. I’m s you know you are right about that. I’m sorry I did that. And if they didn’t see it, likewise to go back and say, you know what? Yeah, you didn’t bring this up but I need to tell you like I treated you like crap there. I’m sorry. One of the women who spoken on our, um, PG speaking panel before, at least rattler, she’s a therapist and in the Baltimore area, she said once and I this, this caught my attention. It’s so good. She said, you know, some parents would do well to remember that if they treated their friends relationally, the way they treat their kids, their friends would not hang out with them anymore. You know, like, that’s really good. You know? So what are the ways that the hangups in our parents here revealing areas we need to continue to grow
and how powerful for our children to see that humility, right? It’s one thing for us to talk to them about humility and how important it is, what a virtue it is. It’s a whole nother thing to actually see us being humble. Yeah. Right. Yeah, that’s, that’s a completely different thing. And I can only imagine, you know, the difference between talking to them about humility and actually apologizing to them and being humble. Yeah.
So to be clear, this is worth saying, um, a couple of couple of things as we kind of near landing here. One is that we are not saying that if you do this, if you continue to allow the Lord to work in your life, then your kids are going to turn out great. Oh, we’re not. We do think, you know, I, I, I do think that if we allow the Lord to continue to transform us into the likeness of Christ, it gives our kids a better shot at and not struggling with some of the things he knows. We can, as we work on our, like even thinking about the sexual arena, if we get healthier sexually, we’re going to be willing to give our kids something that we wouldn’t otherwise be able to give them a healthier perspective on sex. Um, but our kids are still free and they’re free agents and they’re living their own journey. And so they’re going to make their own choices. And so we’re not throwing all this out there as a recipe for how to, you know, how to turn out, turn out great kids were we’re saying this is going to help you with whatever the journey that your kids are on. Whatever roads they take.
Well, maybe it’s important to di to distinguish too that we, we hope and pray that they will, you know, not, um, make some choices and some decisions. And if they do that, they’ll come back. Yeah. You know, that they’ll straighten out the path. You know, that, that whether or not it, it’s an intervention that keeps them on a path or, or is a way that has formed them to rescue them, you know, cause God’s gonna be wanting to rescue them cause there are going to be bumps along the way that in any case like it’s a, I think it’s a powerful, uh, formation of them.
And, uh, and with that said kid, I also think we, you know, I think about so many parents I know and that the places in my life where that’s been true, where, uh, where I try to put kind of the, the dots connect the dots for my kids to come back, you know, or, or for my kids to do well. Um, I think there are ways that we have to acknowledge as those before the Lord who need his intervention in our lives. Yeah. Um, that a part of that is, is releasing the, what happens to our kids and where we don’t do that. That again, is a place that reveals, Lord, I need you to work in my life here because obviously I don’t trust you. Yes. I don’t trust you with my kids or I don’t trust you with, with fulfillment in my life.
If my kids choose a, B or c, yes. I’m even as simple as, you know, you know, my kids move away, you know, than my life’s miserable, you know? But, but Lord, you are life. So I’m gonna I’m going to continue to open my life to your life. Yeah. And, and help me to trust you with my, with my kids, whatever, whatever happens with them and easy for me to say, harder for me to do. Um, so practically speaking then, as we, as we wrap up, what are, what are a couple things kit that you’d say like, you know, we’ve, we’ve used illustration before, like, look, if, if, uh, when you’re on an airplane, the cabin pressure drops. You’re instructed if you’re traveling with like a miner puts your own oxygen mask on first before you help them. The reason for that is because if you, if you, if you pass out, you’re not gonna be help either one of you. So put your own mask on first and then you can help your kid. So that’s really the order of things that we’re suggesting, like focus on yourself, like deal, deal yourself. But some parents listening will say, well, how do I do that? Parenting is really, really busy. So what can parents do in the midst of these busy parenting seasons to open themselves to the transforming work of God, both in their parenting and in their, their lives in general as, as men and women?
Well, we’ve been talking about, you know, the last two podcasts we’ve been talking about, what does it look like to rest in God to, to engage in some practices, you know, and I would just, um, you know, talk to somebody about that, like talk to somebody who’s maybe a little bit further down the road in, um, in a different season. Like, Hey, what’s worked for you when you were doing this? What, you know, and that we should be community in this, you know, we can be community in this. We can really encourage each other in some meaningful ways.
Yeah, I like that. I think, I think there’s a lot, a lot of room, a lot of room, and I say this in a, you know, let’s, let’s inspire some creativity and some brainstorming from our Christian community. Like, yeah. A lot of room on like how can we get better at like helping each other as people who are parenting. Yeah. And how can we get better at helping each other as parents, you know, with, without, without it becoming a bit all about our kids. Yes. You know, and behavior in a competition, you know? Right. Yeah. Yeah. It’s a whole nother podcast. Yeah. Right. The other thing I’d say is, um, uh, it is not a selfish thing to take time to focus on your own soul and the care of your own soul, but it’s selfish. Yeah. Um, there certainly may be seasons where you have to be judicious about how you do that.
And it may not be all that you want in every, every time you want, but, um, but it’s really important in the same way, it’s important for you to get enough sleep. Same Way. It’s important for you to go to the doctor. It’s not a selfish thing for, for a parent, you know, to, to go to the doctor and go to the dentist. Likewise, it’s not a selfish thing for you to go get the sole care you need. Yup. Um, we offer spiritual one-to-one spiritual coaching here at regeneration and even if it’s just for a short season can be really helpful if you’ve got some stuff from your past or some places you notice, uh, you know, this keeps hanging me up to get some help in that way. Um, whether here or somewhere else. I think our programs here, another, another great investment of time.
It can be, you know, can feel like a lot of time. But man, I don’t know anybody. I don’t know any parent who has invested time in a regeneration program, whether it’s a, you know, like one that we’ll have coming up in just a couple months. I’m a little, a little less than a couple of months. His path to the wilderness, it’s a large investment of time. I don’t know anybody who’s taken a program like that at regeneration as a parent and felt like wasn’t worth it. Yeah. Um, I was, we were just talking to apparent earlier today who was saying that, you know, the parenting in there, what happened in their home after that was just tremendously good. Yeah. Because of that. So yeah, two shameless plugs for things here at regeneration, but if not here, then somewhere can get some support for yourself. All right. Kit, would you pray for the parents listening, especially around this, you know, the most important thing they can do? Yeah.
Lord, you know
what comes against us to slow down and take time with you and you also, Lord, I don’t have a formula for that. You don’t measure it. You’re not, there’s an answer. But Lord, you do desire, um, for us to draw near to you and you love to draw near to us. And so I just pray for every parent, whatever season they’re in, they would just ask you like, Lord, what does it look like for me to, to do that? And is there somebody I could talk? Is there a place I can go? Like, Lord, how do I give this gift to my children of, of um, continuing to heal and grow and draw near to you? And so, Lord, I just pray, um, for each person that they would, um, have some sense of how they might live this out differently in a more intentional way. And we pray your blessing on them as they do that in Jesus name. Amen.