During this last week's sermon (on John 11:1-44), we heard Jamie Soles' beautiful reflection on his son Judah's life, a life that was abruptly ended—in this world, anyway—on June 20, one day before Judah reached the age of 21.
Part of that reflection included these words:
Your Mother and I set out to raise you kids in the fear of the Lord, with our Bibles open and our eyes on Jesus. We tried to be diligent to give you correction and discipline when the need arose. We were of the mind that little kids should live in a sort of police state, where every infraction gets dealt with as soon as possible, and with the counter-cultural understanding that as you grew older, we would be able to remove the traces and set you free. Rather than clamping down on rebellious teenagers, we would be able to let you test your wings, and to be helpful to you, rather than adversarial to you. That was our plan, broadly speaking.
You were my vindication from all those small-minded prophets who would tell me; “Just wait until he is two! He will be so bad.” Or “Just wait until he is school age, and he starts ignoring you.” Or “Just wait until he is a teenager and he goes wild.” I could point at you and say “See?”.
You shut their mouths, because you grew up bold, and faithful to your Lord Jesus, and, in a million ways, winningly attractive.
I would never claim to do it (or anything else, for that matter) perfectly, but in many ways, this sums up the parenting philosophy my wife and I have pursued as well. We learned the basics of it from Tedd Tripp's wonderful book, "Shepherding a Child's Heart."
In an age where parents tend towards the reverse strategy (letting small children live without "traces" & then attempting to enforce a police state on them later as teenagers)... I can't recommend this book highly enough.
It is indeed, as Jamie said, "counter-cultural." But it is deeply Biblical, in a thousand beautiful ways.
Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it.