So far, our experiences in parenting are pretty different than our experiences from fostering. I’m sure we could fill volumes with all the differences, but today I want to look at one of the ways it’s actually kind of the same.
A Little While
The day after Lincoln was born, I wrote this post, almost more of a poem, about how Lincoln is a child of God first and foremost. It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, as Lincoln grows up and having his own thoughts and opinions about things. Which—side note—is super duper weird. Like, he was a grub worm a year ago. Now he has likes and dislikes and emotions and I’m not ready for it.
You see, the Bible teaches that God knew us before we were even a thought. That means we had an identity long before we were born. Jesus knew us before anyone else. Then we’re born. And we wander. We choose sin. Over and over and over and over. Because we’re dumb. We are prodigals, all of us. But then Jesus. Jesus came and brought us salvation, and for all those who call on His name, we are saved. Adopted. Brought back into God’s family as children, “we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’” (Romans 8:15).
We are all God’s children. Even as parents, we are raising God’s kids.
So if our kids are not our own, not fully, what does that mean for us?
It means there’s a lot of weight to what we do. Seriously. How nerve-racking is it to raise someone else’s kids? Let alone a child of God?
That’s where fostering and parenting can be kind of similar. As a foster parent, parenting decisions are largely informed by the child’s upbringing and biological parent preferences. I can’t just make any parental decision I would normally make without first running it through the child’s parents and making sure it’s okay. And if it’s not? That has to be a good enough answer for me.
So it is with raising a child of God.
There are rules and guidelines and expectations. Did you know the Lord gave us rules for how we should be raising His kids? He spelled it out for us.
When Hailee has a girl’s night or event she goes to where she’ll leave Lincoln home with me, she will usually leave me a list of things to do, how to do it, and when to do it. It makes it easy for me (God bless her). “Two scoops of this, 5mL of that, two pumps of this and we’re all set.” Boom. Done. It takes the guesswork out and ensures that I’ve properly taken care of my boy the way Hailee has already prescribed.
Biological parents often send a similar list with their child. It helps a lot. It lets us know their schedule, habits, preferences, and in some cases, the safest way to care for a child we’ve never met.
The Lord has given us that same exact checklist. The Bible is full of it. Unsure of where to start? Start with Proverbs.
What Does It Mean for Us?
“I’m a pretty good parent,” you say. “So what does that mean for me?”
Here’s a tough truth to wrap the mind around: the fact that we’re raising God’s kids means there are certain decisions we don’t get to make regarding our child’s upbringing. We think we do, because they’re “our” kids. Sometimes it even seems like we’re making good decisions. I won’t get into the weeds about kids and extracurricular activities right now, but suffice it to say, if our decisions on our kids’ behalf do not line up with Scripture and advance the Kingdom of God, it’s the wrong decision.
God told us how to raise His kids. We don’t have to guess. In fact, it is to everyone’s detriment when we do guess.
Some of you may feel like that idea is restrictive. Being “stuck” doing what we’re told to do, instead of parenting on instinct or what Dr. Phil says to do.
As for me, I find it freeing. I don’t have to stress over whether I’m making the right decisions or not. I’m running down God’s checklist, and I know it’s better than anything I could come up with on my own.
So here’s my question to you: are you raising God’s kids, or your own?